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Nova Praetorian

Narrated by: Joel Leslie
Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: Romance, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 realizes the gods have favored 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.

©2019 N. R. Walker (P)2019 N. R. Walker

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

fantastic story

Wow!!! What a story!!! I have always been drawn to ancient times, add in romance and its absolutely perfect.

Quintus is a kind yet stern man who ends up getting sort of blackmailed by Senator Severius into becoming his personal guard against an unnamed threat. Kaeso is a newly captured slave who has trouble accepting his new circumstances. The Senator gives Kaeso to Quintus to train and keep under control. Quintus is a man who prides himself on his control yet with Kaeso he struggles to reign in that control. Kaeso can tell that while a hard task master, Quintus is also a kind man who treats the slaves like people.

The attraction between the two men grow strong but Quintus refuses to make any unwanted advances toward Kaeso, due to his circumstances of being a slave. Eventually the two men figure out that the attraction they feel towards each other is mutual.

This book really kept me wondering what the Senator was up to. Is he up to no good?? Or is he really just that much of a jerk. I loved how the story all came together in the end.

I cannot rave about Joel Leslie enough! His talent with voices and story telling is simply amazing. He really does perform his narrations.

I strongly recommend this audio. You will not be disappointed!!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

N.R. Walker & Joel Leslie: match made in heaven

As with all N.R. Walker titles, fantastic story. Even with a setting so often used for story telling (Roman Empire, gladiators, etc.), she makes it fresh and engaging. And also as expected, Joel Leslie gave a stellar performance - not simple narration, a *performance*. Highly recommend.

However, as of Sept 4, 2019, when I downloaded this book, it is missing the prologue. When chapter 1 started with "17 years later" I thought it was odd but waited for a flashback or some other narrative device to resolve the strange opening. When one was not forthcoming by the 50% mark, I downloaded the sample ebook and found the prologue there. I will look for another way to advise Audible beyond this review, but buyer beware.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Something very different something very good

When an author steps away from their known brand, it’s always a risk. An author who is known for rom-coms writes a dark thriller filled with mayhem and destruction. An author who writes paranormal horrors writes a fluffy mpreg. It’s a risk to an author, for sure. Jaclyn Osborn wrote ‘Axios’ a few years ago and it was a risk. Taking on two young boys during the time of the Spartans was something outside of her known wheelhouse. Well, ‘Nova Praetorian’ is a risk for N.R. Walker but one I’m hoping she feels panned out. She was nervous about both the writing and releasing of the book, but I’ve seen plenty of readers who’ve gone so far as to leave positive reviews.

Today I’m adding to the pile.

I want to start with Joel Leslie’s narration. He has a wide range of accents, so I was interested to see which direction he would take for this book. His narration for Quintus is exactly as I’d have predicted – imperious and accented with something that came off as a bit British but definitely carried the authority. His voice for Kaeso had me scratching my head until I did a bit of research. The Iberian Peninsula comprises of what is today known as Portugal and Spain. Giving Kaeso a slight accent from what would be that region worked brilliantly (and forced me to look something up on the Internet and any day where I learn something new is a good day). In fact, I learned many new things as the book was obviously well-researched. But that knowledge was slipped in and I never felt overwhelmed by it.

First I’ll say this is an appropriately violent book. People who lived in ancient Roman times often were raised with a thirst for blood. Gladiators often partook in Primus – a fight to the death. I’m not a huge fan of graphic violence but it was completely appropriate for the story and worked well.

Quintus is a man among men. He trains warriors and gladiators so he must always be on the top of him game. He must be able to take down those he trains, best them so to speak. He is sure of himself and, on occasion, a little arrogant. But he needs to keep his wits about him when politics come knocking on his door in the form of Senator Servius. The man all but threatens Quintus, forcing him to leave behind all he’s known and move into protecting the Senator. It is only after the arrangement is agreed upon that Quintus learns Servius’ true plan.

Kaeso is a slave. He was dragged from his home in bucolic and rural Iberia, forced to bear witness to unspeakable violence, then thrown in a ship and brought to Rome as a slave. He shows defiance to the Senator and is ‘given’ to Quintus, forced to wear not one but two collars. As a former free man, he’d never contemplated what it would mean to belong to someone.

An interesting dynamic develops between Quintus and Kaeso. Unlike many Roman slave owners, Quintus treats his slaves well, almost as equals. He respects their autonomy and never takes what is not given. He wants Kaeso desperately, but he’s not willing to make the first move lest Kaeso feel obliged. Well, Kaeso has a mind of his own and, slave or not, he wants Quintus with equal fervor. It takes time, but eventually Quintus takes his ‘rabbit’ and the two men create a bond far stronger than owner/slave.

At the heart of this violent novel of political intrigue is a love story. A beautiful love story. And a story about learning to see things from other people’s perspectives – or, as it is better known, empathy. I fell in love with these men and despaired of them finding their happy ending. They did find it, though, and I was truly enchanted by the ending.

As I said, Joel Leslie did an amazing job narrating this long and powerful audio. If it hadn’t been written by Ms. Walker I might not have ventured to listen to it and it would have been to my detriment. I’m glad I took a chance on this wonderful love story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Warning! Very engaging !

I cannot stop listening to the story. Such an excellent combination of writing and narration. I don't really write reviews. Only if I LOVE it so. Or if I really am so unhappy. Catch is we really just return the books we don't like. But this one is indeed a keeper. Love it !!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

loved it !

Did the story keep me engaged: absolutely
Were there any parts I found annoying: no
Did I feel an emotional connection to the characters: yes
Would I listen to it again: in a heartbeat

This is very different to what I usually expect from NR Walker. I'm no expert on Roman history nor the authenticity or accuracy of her portrayal of the culture and time, and I don't care, this book was awesome. It felt accurate for the place and time and held me there throughout the entire 12+ hours. Realistic characters, great dialogue and action sequences to rival the likes of Ben Hur. I could both see and feel the drama, action, blood and volcano unfold as it was brilliantly performed by Joel Leslie.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Denise
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • 09-05-19

Took me a while to get into it....Then

This book took me a while to get into it even though it was interesting from the beginning I had trouble staying focused. But then it just hooked me. I was going to give 4 stars but thinking it over it deserves 5, once it hooked me it made up for the beginning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

All Hail author NR Walker!

5 Blue Roses
5 Blue Flames

A truly stunning audiobook. The plot was absolutely well planned, researched and executed.
This gladiator romance was such a treat. I love the promiscuity of the Romans. They know how to have a good time.

Narrator Joel Leslie carried me into a world of slavery and gladiators, from Roman guards to traitorous senators. I lost myself in ancient times of Roman social hierarchy and the misguided belief that there is honor in dying in the arenas.
Two men's love from two opposite worlds survives blackmail, a military coup and a natural disaster of legendary proportions.

I definitely recommend this audiobook if you like action packed historical romances.

Happy Listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful