Review: Highland Gladiator by Kathryn LeVeque

Posted August 28, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 12 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Highland Gladiator by Kathryn LeVeque
Highland Gladiator

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
three-flames


Series: Scots and Swords #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released on August 28, 2020
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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The Delight

A gentle blacksmith turned vengeful gladiator and a fiery clan chieftain’s daughter from rival clans must navigate a few storms to love in the medieval Scottish Highlands.  Highland Gladiator caught my eye both for its title and author.  I’ve been meaning to read something of hers since spotting fabulous reviews from fellow book lovers.


Review

Lor comes from a small Highland village and is content to learn his grandfather’s blacksmith trade and stay out of the always boiling clan conflicts until the day a vicious attack on his village sets him on a new path- the path to future revenge and the Ludus Caledonia.  He once heard of this old Roman-style fight training school and he is determined to learn to fight and take an exacting price for the loss of his grandfather.  It is only when he has a second encounter with the fiercely independent Isabail Keith that an equally strong conflicting emotion enters him and the straight path starts to twist and give him choices.

Isabail is taken with Lor from the beginning.  He sees her warrior’s heart and doesn’t judge, but accepts.  She sees his gentle soul, but also the steel running through him so doesn’t underestimate him like her brother and others.  Her clan needs fighting men and a visit to the gladiator school brings her face to face with a now grown up and trained Lor who is hardened and determined.  Can she make him see that they belong and that he can get to the heart of the betrayal by joining with her people instead of against them?

Highland Gladiator seemed like a great blend of two historic worlds that I enjoy.  I loved that the setting is medieval Scotland, but the Ludus Caledonia also brings a smidge of the Roman Empire to things.  This was my first experience with the author’s writing and I loved her attention to historical setting and that the gladiators side wasn’t just a flash in the pan.  There was good action and fighting in the story and a good villain that had Lor fooled.  That said, it was a well-built love story and character journey.  The author paced it well and didn’t stint on developing an all-around strong first in series.

I liked both lead characters from the beginning.  Lor was a sweet heart and I just knew this guy was going to go through some heartache.  He wanted to be left alone at his simple life and it was obvious that some villain was going to come along and smash all that.  It happens swiftly and Lor loses his grandfather in it all.  He thinks he knows who is responsible, but to the reader, there is enough to see that it’s not cut and dry and that adds to the action side of the plot.  Lor is willing to take a long-term approach by getting taught how to fight so he can do the job right.  And, yes, he’s convinced that it’s Isabail’s clan and, that’s fair, because I wasn’t sure at first, either.  They are a rowdy fighting group.  I thought his training time and time with the other men was as fascinating and engaging as I hoped it would be while it set up for the rest of the series.

As to Isabail, she’s pretty special, too.  She is a warrior at heart and it was funny how she has all the men cowed because she’s skilled and good at the craft, too.  She has a good head on her shoulders though and is a worthy leader.  I loved that she fell for Lor when she first thought he was a poor village blacksmith and then didn’t let this background change her feelings about him years later.  They really saw each other and there was respect even when they were from rival clans and Lor was dead-set on his revenge.  There is no sappy Romeo and Juliet going on here and I was grateful for that, but we do get some good spicy sexy times.

Highland Gladiator was even better than I anticipated and I was pretty excited about it.  I can’t wait to see the other men of the Ludus Caledonia getting their stories.  I loved the way the author blended action, suspense, historical backdrop, complex characters, and romance all together.  I’ve had her books on my shelf for years and now I know what I’ve been missing.  I can definitely recommend this one to other Highland romance fans.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Challenges Met

New Release #131
Historical Fiction #83
Books N Tunes #34 Royal Scots Dragoon Guards’ The Gael
Romance BINGO #23 Highlander

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Felicity Grace Terry
20 days ago

Not a genre I’m greatly into but this particular book does appeal to me. Not enough that I’m convinced I’d buy a copy but its certainly one to add to my Library List.

Sophia Rose
20 days ago

I make lists like that with buy column, borrow column, or the maybes. 🙂 Glad it caught your eye, Felicity!

Ethan
20 days ago

I love that combination too. I especially like that Isabail is a strong woman to match up against Lor. I’m sure that made things more fun!

Sophia Rose
19 days ago
Reply to  Ethan

It was mostly Highland setting, but that smidge of Roman Empire gladiator was a blast. 🙂

It was extra good with two such lead characters.

Debbie Haupt
Debbie Haupt
20 days ago

Don’t you just love it when a book exceeds expectations! Great review I love the cover and the couple’s names too.

Sophia Rose
19 days ago
Reply to  Debbie Haupt

I sure do. I thought I knew what to expect, but it was great getting more. I appreciated how the author paid attention to names that sounded medieval, at least. 🙂

Jen
Jen
19 days ago

OH! This sounds really good. I’m kind of bummed I didn’t see it to review it – but honestly, I’m so behind on the books I already have… Keeping it in mind for down the road. Thanks.

Sophia Rose
19 days ago
Reply to  Jen

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the same thing after reading someone else’s review. 🙂 It is impossible to grab them all, mores the pity. 🙂

Lover of Romance
18 days ago

YAY! This review fills me with such joy, I just knew that you would enjoy her work. Now you KNOW why I love her stuff. And much if not all of it has been on KU if you have that subscription. 🙂

Great review.

Sophia Rose
18 days ago

You are the biggest motivator for me to read her stuff and you were soooo right. 🙂 I’ve got several as freebies and on sale since I spotted your first reviews, but good to know she’s on KU, too.

Carole Rae
18 days ago

Ooooo what a good find here. I’ll have to add it to my pile!

Sophia Rose
18 days ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

Yes, a gem of a find, Carole. 🙂