Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines 5 of 5 stars.
During the week, Lyn lives in a big house in Cambridge and hangs out with friends in Harvard Square. But over the weekend, she cheers her father on as he gears up for neo-gladiator competition--a high-profile televised blood sport that rivals the NFL. Lyn's father is the top player in the league, and the paparazzi that have always swarmed him have started to dog Lyn's every move. All this fame comes with another price--Lyn's family lives with the constant presence of violence, uncertainty, and a strict cultural code set by the Gladiator Sports Association. When a skilled young fighter slays Lyn's father, the GSA imposes an unthinkable sentence--Lyn must marry her father's murderer. Though her mother has made a career of marrying into Glad culture, Lyn is prepared to do whatever it takes to claim her independence. Even if it means going into the arena herself. (Summary from book)
Lyn is a strong young woman being raised by a manic mother and four warrior fathers. These fathers participate in Glad sport. She has watched her fathers kill and watched her fathers die. The Gladiator Sports Association has strict rules pertaining to the Glad families. Her mother is on her seventh husband (the only one Lyn has cared for) and after that she is not allowed to marry or love again, not a Gladiator and not a common man either. When Lyn's father falls in the arena, Lyn's dowry bracelet ends up in his hands. Now the GSA is forcing Lyn to marry her father's killer, that or take away everything they own. With her mother breaking down and a special needs younger brother a heavy burden falls on Lyn's shoulders. The fact that Uber, her father's killer is a good man doesn't make matters better when she finds herself facing the choice of marrying or fighting him.
This is the first novel by Lise Haines that I have read and she is certainly an amazing author. She introduced the Glad culture, intertwining it in history and modern day, in a way that wasn't imposing or undescriptive but fluid and natural. All of the character's are believable and very real. The book isn't as horrifically bloody as it sounds, you would find gorier scenes in the Inheritance books. All and all this is a wonderful book and I would suggest it to anyone.
For fans of: Lise Haines, The Hunger Games, Graceling