Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Galactic Gladiators #2
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Length: Short novel
Fighting for love, honor, and freedom on the galaxy’s lawless outer rim…
It was supposed to be an exciting job on a space station, but instead, scientist Dr. Regan Forrest finds herself fighting for her life when she’s kidnapped by alien slavers. Far from Earth and forced into a violent gladiatorial arena on the outer rim, she finds herself swept into the brawny arms of a big, wild alien gladiator.
Weapon, brute, gladiator, warrior… Sirrush warrior Thorin has been called many things. As a warrior of his people, he was a dark, dangerous weapon until even his own family were too afraid of him. Sold into slavery in the Kor Magna Arena, he has long ago earned his freedom. Now he enjoys the violent but rewarding life he’s carved out for himself. Until he rescues one small, smart, and perplexing female from alien slavers.
Regan is determined to make a place for herself in her new home. She may not have the skills to fight in the arena, but she’s smart and knows she can help…even as she fights her attraction to the big, bold, and fascinating Thorin. She knows he’ll never be interested in her. But when Regan catches a glimpse of her cousin across a crowded market, she needs help to mount a rescue, and it comes in the form of the gladiator she desperately wants. A gladiator hiding a dark, uncontrollable secret with the power to destroy them both.
Source: ARC from the author
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, because I usually love Anna Hackett’s stories, but I very nearly put this book down unfinished. Several times. I found the first book in the series fun, if a little formulaic with its alpha male fighters, but this one wasn’t even fun. At least not at first. I have a few reasons for this.
Let’s start with Regan. Having read the first book, Gladiator, I knew she was in the attack on the space station and turned into a slave, which was a horrible time and got progressively worse as the others tried to rescue her. However, this book starts after all of that and doesn’t bother to recap or go much into detail. Which means that despite the fact that Regan should have been a highly sympathetic character, I didn’t care for her at all. A few scenes or a prologue dealing with the attack from her pov would have been great, but nope, all we get is whiny Regan doing stupid things for stupid reasons because, oh noes, she doesn’t like being confined.
Not a great start. It isn’t helped by her seemingly magical plant powers that enable her to apparently reverse engineer a highly sophisticated med-gel (with no previous knowledge of it) and improve upon it. I’m not even sure how long she’s been free at this point, but I don’t think it’s long, days rather than months. She also brings plants back from the dead. Maybe if I’d seen her actually working on these things I might have cared, but as it is they’re just presented as stuff she’s done and I guess it’s supposed to make her interesting or something. Sadly not.
Throw in childish tantrums and ridiculous behaviour and I was about done with her.
I stuck with it, though, because I like this author. I never came to care all that much for Regan, but her foolish behaviour does settle down. Mostly. It gets replaced with emotional issues that only ever felt skin deep, but I could just about cope with them. I just wish there had been more to Regan than whining, longing and silly stunts.
Then there’s Thorin. Who has an axe. But is not a dwarf. No, he’s this huge humanoid alien who sometimes has scales and has a Tragic Past that means he is an Abomination and a Monster who has done Bad Things and is not worthy of the love of a Good Woman. He is big and muscled and alpha and should really only communicate in grunts. Like Regan, he is stunningly lacking in any back story, and it takes ages for us to learn what his big secret was (and then only in the vaguest of terms), which left me feeling lukewarm at best towards him. He’s just too much of a cliché.
There is of course a romance between big brute and fragile female. It wasn’t the well balanced partnership I usually love from this author. It wasn’t really anything except sex and some melodrama about no one ever truly loving me for who I was before I met you.
However, away from those two, there is a rescue to accomplish, which was enjoyable in a everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-attacks kind of way. I liked seeing a bit more of Kace and that casino owner was intriguing to say the least. I wasn’t happy at the way Harper seems to have been sidelined, though. I liked how she earned Raiden’s respect in the last book, but now she seems to get a lot of pats on the head as she’s left behind in various places in some token role while the big manly men go off and do the dangerous stuff, with Regan dangling under Thorin’s arm in a scantily-clad-damsel way.
All in all, I found this one disappointing. I was really excited for this series, but it lacks the intelligent fun of the Phoenix Adventures and the passion and drama of Hell Squad. The sex is still hot, but the characters aren’t coming alive for me and the relationships are lacking in both depth and balance. I’ll certainly try the next one, but so far I’ve been left sadly underwhelmed by these gladiators.
Warrior is Out Now.
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