Title: Nova Praetorian
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 10/26/2018
Genre(s): M/M Historical
Page Count: 420
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome. When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best. He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.
Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him. Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realises the gods have favoured him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.
Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso’s neck, and together they discover the senator’s move for promotion has an ulterior motive. Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.
And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian—the new guard—rise.
4.5 stars rounded up
Whew, this took me 6 days to finish, but it was marvelous! I think part of it was just life getting in the way, but another part of it was this just felt slow, plot wise.
I loved Quintus and Kaeso from the beginning, they were interesting, engaging characters and their romance was just *happy sigh* amazing, and their chemistry lit up the pages for me.
It was more the plot that made this slow going for me for a long while in this book. It was setting up a LOT of stuff and a lot of the book is just this slow build up to the events of the climax (which were truly exciting and riveting!). And while there were many interesting parts leading up to the climax, some of it dragged just a little. It took perhaps a little too long to get to the climax, to the reveal of what the senator was really up to and all that.
Quintus is the master at a Linus or whatever it’s called – but it’s a place where gladiators are trained. But when he’s asked (but actually threatened) by a Senator Servius of Rome to guard him up until Roman games are set to take place, for he fears for his life, Quintus has no choice but to say yes.
And there he meets Kaeso, a young man taken from the lands of Iberia as a slave, but who is feisty and defiant where no of the other slaves are. He catches Quintus’ attention immediately, and with Quintus’ kind and fair nature, Kaeso starts to fall for Quintus as well, as he is not like other master’s. And Kaeso soon gets Quintus to see the horribleness of slavery, and how wrong it is, and over time Quintus’ outlook is changed because of Kaeson and his love for him.
Some of this story takes place in actual historical events – like the crazy big volcanic eruption in 79AD in Pompeii – and a few other places. But mostly this is fictional events taking place in a real historical time.
I also loved how this managed to feel so much like N.R. Walker but not at the same time. We still get our wonderful happy ending and great, amazing romance that I adored, but also a little bit of realism of the time (the gruesomeness of those days, the almost casual attitude about slavery, those horrible roman “games” that were fights to the death a lot of the time). I love that, even in this time, we could get a happy ending, even if it’s fictional – but I’m sure there were many happy endings back then, they just aren’t talked about haha.
Also I love the casualness with m/m and f/f relationships back in ancient Rome and Greece. It was just a non-issue, until religion was introduced into society on a massive scale *sigh*
This was a great book, even if it was slow at times, it was still so enjoyable and the climax, plus Quintus and Kaeso’s relationship is SO wroth the read. Highly recommend!