on October 24, 2018
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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.
Disclaimer: Nova Praetorian was my first ever m/m romance read. I’m not a romance devotee, by any means, so perhaps it should not have been a surprise that I found aspects of this novel grating.
2.5/5 stars. Rounded to 3 because it redeemed itself slightly with a sweet ending.
I liked both the MCs, Quintus and Kaeso, from the start. For different reasons, as their personalities and backgrounds are QUITE different (backgrounds more so than the personalities). However, I felt there were a lot of inconsistencies portrayed in their characters as the novels progressed. For instance, Quintus is a hardened gladiator and a skilled tactician, and at one point he makes a COMPLETE NOOB BLUNDER. Um, no? Sorry, but a man like Quintus would NEVER fail to think of the people he is close to being used as blackmail or bargaining chips. Never. Kaeso was even worse. At the beginning he is proud and fierce and defiant. He changes and falls in love with Quintus so rapidly I found it entirely unbelievable. It reeks of Stockholm syndrome, to me. As the story progresses, it is clear that it is NOT, however, the speed at which Kaeso’s attachment forms is not consistent with the horrible experiences he is supposed to have had (which we never get much description of, only hints and at the end, a few more details).
All that said, Quintus is sexy AF and their relationship is sweet and gave me warm fuzzies AT THE END.
I’m pretty sure this novel was not written with the best view to historical accuracy. It’s not supposed to be literary fiction, so that’s okay, but I found the dialogue especially to be stilted and off-putting. More so in the middle than in the beginning and end. There also wasn’t ENOUGH detail for my tastes…I was vaguely aware that the city was Roman, but it didn’t really give me that walk-back-in-time feel. I think this is a particularly hard time period in which to do that, due to how very far back in time it is and the fact that there are less historical records/description of it than say, Victorian times.
Predictable. Saw everything coming a full mile away. Again, not entirely unexpected because the main focus here was the romance. However, even with that…it was as if the author was purposely alternating: scene with other characters, sex scene, scene with other characters, sex scene…and on and on. Even the sex scenes became extremely similar (which…I guess is also expected?). With about 15% left it actually became a little more interesting as things drew to a close…the only thing really left open was if a certain side character would live or die, and where Quintus and Kaeso would settle down for their HEA.
Eh, 3.5/5? It’s very graphic and they’re obviously very very into each other. I was so nonplussed by Kaeso’s character flip-flopping though, that I couldn’t really get into the sexy scenes. YMMV.
All in all, maybe if you enjoy this genre, you would enjoy Nova Praetorian more than I did. I probably won’t be reading any other stories by this author, but I do have one more m/m romance I want to try…see if it’s me or the genre.
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