Saturday, December 15, 2018

Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker


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.

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~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah☆☆☆☆☆
This was a wonderful surprise. The story of a Roman gladiator trainer who finds himself increasingly embroiled in dangerous political games, this is way outside my usual genre preference. I don’t usually read historical fiction and I probably wouldn’t choose to start with the Roman Empire. But I love N.R. Walker’s writing and I’m glad I took a chance on this book.

Quintus is a wonderful hero. After overcoming a tragic past, he now runs one of the most successful Lanistas in Rome. Quintus is a free man who finds himself trapped in service to a powerful senator and he is a moral man who must act when he witnesses corruption. I fell fast and hard for Quintus and I loved him more with each chapter. Kaeso is a wonderful partner for Quintus. He is a slave who won’t submit easily; a talented fighter whose loyalty is hard won. The power dynamics between these two are complicated but they work together beautifully and make each other stronger.

I’m still not sure if this is romance, political suspense, or an action adventure. The story starts slow and there were a few moments at the beginning where the deluge of historical detail was overwhelming and somewhat off putting. However, after the first few chapters, I was quickly caught up in the action and the drama and the second half of the story moved as fast and as vividly as an epic film. This is a long book and I devoured the second half in a single sitting. The ending is brilliant and by the end I had fallen in love with all of Quintus’ gladiators and allies.

I don’t want to give away any of this story. It is far too good to ruin. I will encourage other readers who might be dubious about the historical fiction element of this book. I loved this story and recommend it highly.


Erica☆☆☆
3.5 Gladiator Stars

As a fan of MM romance and Historical Romance, I jumped at the chance to read a novel set during gladiator times. If you're a fan of the television series, Spartacus: Blood & Sand, as well as MM romance, then Nova Praetorian will surely hit all the right notes.

I was hooked from the start, the pacing fast, the characters unique and engaging, the world-building intriguing. Around the third mark, my desire to read waned.

Tragedy strikes, leaving Quintus an orphan to be raised by the doctor (not medicinal kind) of his gladiator training facility. As an adult, Quintus trains quality gladiators, taking pride in continuing to strengthen what his father before him built.

Blackmailed by a senator, Quintus is forced to attend the senator as security, and that is where he meets Kaeso. The senator has a new crop of slaves coming in, and Quintus is immediately taken with Kaeso.

Kaeso being a slave, his story was heartbreaking – family murdered and being captured, with the complete loss of his autonomy. His actions/reactions, to a certain extent, followed those of human nature. The romance shared didn't feel organic – too fast, too intense, outside of lust. Almost Stockholm syndrome-esque.

As for Quintus, I felt his personality was all over the place. Blackmailed, extorted, and trapped by circumstance time and time again, which I felt was at odds with who he was as a character, especially in the position he held.

I thoroughly enjoyed the initial setup, the main characters' backstories were compelling and intriguing, but along the way I became disinterested as the pacing slowed and turned repetitious. While the first few lusty scenes were hot, their abundance became repetitious, which led me to lose interest while searching for the bones of the plot.

My reading mood shifted, what I was interested in reading, what I needed as an escape. My rating is not based on my mood, finding the story solid but predicable. However, my mood did affect the ability to put the book down over several weeks, pick it back up and read a few chapters, only to put it back down again.

It didn't help that the entire time I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, worried something horrific would befall one of the characters. This stressed me out, took away my enjoyment, and I take full responsibility for it.

While the romance was sweet and hot, I wasn't as invested as I hoped to be. While the setting, time period, and the storyline was utterly unique, it made reading it from cover to cover difficult, as there was a lot to digest with the spellings and meanings of the era – the dialogue was stilted and difficult to digest due to this, pulling me out of my imagination, which affected the entertainment value and overall enjoyment.

Quintus and Kaeso were strong characters at the beginning, not just physically but their strength of will and tenacity. But as the story evolved, their personalities shifted, until they were acting out of character (explained above).

I do recommend, as this was a solid MM romance in genre/theme that has yet to be tapped. New. Refreshing. Unique. One-of-a-kind. I just wasn't as hooked as I hoped to be by the storyline, with characters that didn't resonate with me.



N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things: a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words. She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things... but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since...

Connect with N.R.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker to read and review.

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