Author: N.R. Walker
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 12 hrs, 24 mins
Publisher: N.R. Walker (27th August 2019)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts
Blurb: 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 Nea-polis, 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 realizes the gods have fa-vored 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.
Review: Nova Praetorian is a standalone historical romance by NR Walker. I am somewhat familiar with NR Walker’s previous work, and while I recall enjoying the books, I’m fairly certain that this is the first historical book I’ve read (or rather, heard) by Walker.
I have a complicated view on historical MM romances. I’ll be up front. In the world of MF romances, historical romances are the only ones I really like to read. So, I’m already inclined to like MM romances. However, because of historical views of homosexuality I find some difficult to read and that just means I really need to be in the mood for an MM historical romance.
Now, this leads me to an equally complicated view on Roman historical romances. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of such romances that are set somewhere close to Pompei on Volcano Day. And part of me finds that a tad bit tedious. Yet, with Ancient Romans (as well as the Ancient Greek) were a much more accepting society when it came to homosexuality… and so my mixed feelings continue.
But as soon as I started Nova Praetorian I was completely blown away.
This is a story that has it all. Political intrigue, power plays, gladiatorial fights, a couple with an intense attraction and loads of sexual tension, that also demonstrates the diversity of the Roman Empire. There is a lot of development as we get to know the characters and their motivations, but there is also a great rhythm throughout the story which weaves together political games, action/fighting scenes, wonderful romance between the two MCs and some great sex scenes too.
The story opens with Quintus Furius Varus, he owns a gladiatorial school which had been passed down from his grandfather and father before him, and is well renowned for training some of the most fierce and strongest gladiators, both male and female. He has interesting back story, where he lost his parents but was raised by two house slaves who kept the gladiatorial school going through Quintus’s childhood. However, now as an adult, his reputation has garnered the attention of a powerful senator that wants Quintus himself to train the senator’s own guard as the man makes a play to gain more political power.
This is how Quintus meets Kaeso. Kaeso was taken from his homeland of Ibera (comprising parts of modern day Spain and Portugal for those playing at home) by the Romans when they had come to his villages and destroyed everything, as well as killing his beloved family. Kaeso arrives in what is near modern-day Naples defiant. However, with the fear and heartache that had brought him to Rome against his will, he discovers he is given to a man who is nothing but kindness, even to slaves. The two men become close, although Quintus is insists on being noble and not taking advantage of Kaeso.
The men have to battle their feelings for each other, the physical attraction, as well as watching every step they take as the senator brings danger and intrigue. They even find themselves in the orbit of the Roman Emperor himself. I really loved – and was really relieved – when I got to read a really nice HEA because it was one well deserved for both Quintus and Kaeso.
The narration of this story was performed by Joel Leslie. I suppose like television, even ancient people tend to have a British accent (or something similar to one) in audio books. But that is not a bad thing. Leslie’s narration is a wonderful performances that keeps the momentum of the story going strong. He managed to nail the pronunciation of so many Latin words and keep it even throughout the course of the book. I also love the voice he gave Quintus and Kaeso, in particular I loved his portrayal of Kaeso. A totally wonderful performance that brings so much more life to the book.
Amazing story. If you’re a person who is unsure about historical romances, I recommend this one as an a good example of a thoroughly well written and well performed story.