5 Stars, Historical Romance, Loose Id, Nasia Maksima, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Unbound, Unbroken by Nasia Maksima

Unbound, Unbroken

Unbound, Unbroken

Title: Unbound, Unbroken (In His Arena: Book Two)

Author: Nasia Maksima

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 309 Pages

At a Glance: An excellent second installment in the In His Arena series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When rising star gladiator Titian finds himself paired with the vainglorious champion Galadros, he finds himself in mortal danger. For a dark spell binds them together, using their lust to make them pawns in the wicked schemes of Alession, the Empress’s right-hand man.

Their only hope is to fight against the bond and hope to break it before Alession forces them to fight each other to the death in the arena. But with every challenge they face, Titian finds himself more and more drawn to Galadros, strengthening the dark spell even as they try to break it.

What begins as pure survival quickly spirals into a whirlwind of lust and love as Titian fights—both for his life and for an impossible future with Galadros. But Galadros has an even darker secret—one that might destroy them both.

Dividers

Review: Although Unbound, Unbroken is the second book in this series, you do not need to read the first in order to understand it. Though there are a few characters that make a reappearance, the lovers in this story are new. The previous lovers from book one are mentioned briefly, but as Titian and Galadros didn’t know them, they don’t know the entire story. Alession and the Empress return, as they are central, connecting figures of the series, but their history is explained for new readers and recapped for fans of the first.

Using the slavecraft from the first book, but this time as a stronger spell, Alession binds Titian and Galadros together for the cruel amusement of the Empress. In that, the storyline is not new; however, these two men are and the slavecraft is stronger. There are also darker elements. Monsters created by one of the houses from fallen gladiators appear which the lovers must fight in order to survive. Things are admittedly grim in this book, but the story was completely engrossing.

What I loved about Titian and Galadros was their personalities. Both are strong men, but their desires lie contrary to what the “rules” of Arena are. According to the unwritten rules, the weaker men are “seeded” by the stronger in order to make them stronger. But Titian, in his role as secutor, must submit to his mated provocator. Even though that’s his role, Titian wants to be the dominant man. Galadros, on the other hand, is the provocator, or another mated pair, and though it’s his role to give to his secutor, he craves a more submissive role in the bedroom. When fate throws them together, both men fight for and against what they want because of the rules their society has set in place. If Galadros truly submits like he wants to, he fears he will lose standing among the other gladiators when he wants to be the champion. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the admission of his desires could cause him to lose favor with the oddsmakers, which could be fatal.

If you liked the first book, Slave Eternal, you’ll love this one. If you like books with an alternate history intertwined with a bit of fantasy, then give this series a shot. A word of warning, however. There is some dubious consent in this book. It is at times masked by magic, but if that’s a trigger for you, just be warned.

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You can buy Unbound, Unbroken here:

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Loose Id, Nasia Maksima, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Slave Eternal (In His Arena: Book One) by Nasia Maksima

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Title: In His Arena 1: Slave Eternal

Author:  Nasia Maksima

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 248 Pages

At a Glance: This book had everything I could have wanted and more

Blurb: When novice gladiator Lucan is stolen from his patron house and enslaved by the wicked Stratos to be a pawn in a dark scheme, he finds himself fighting for his life in the cruel Spectacles of the arena. His only hope is to undertake training under HektorActaeon, the arena’s greatest champion.

From the moment he meets Hektor, Lucan’s life is changed. He expected to be trained. He expected to win glory in the arena. He never expected to fall in love. With every challenge, Lucan rises in power and glory, and what begins as a desperate bid for survival quickly spirals into a whirlwind of lust and love as he fights—both for his life and for an impossible future with Hektor.

But Hektor is harboring his own dark secret—one that could very well keep him from loving Lucan in return. Even worse, the menace of Stratos’s plan looms over them, sending them into the arena in a final battle to the death. Against each other.

Can Lucan and Hektor overcome Stratos’s dark designs and the cruelties of the arena, or will their secrets drive them to ruin in the final battle against each other?

DividersReview: I don’t even know where to start with this review. Part of me wants to start swearing like a drunken pirate about how amazing it is. Another part of me wants to do the Kermit happy dance and start flailing around madly. This book had everything I could have wanted and more. So much more.

First, I think it’s only fair that I give you some warnings. This book has a lot of content that might upset readers, and not necessarily in a good way. It’s a violent book. There is a LOT of blood and death. That said, it is a historical fantasy novel about gladiators, so that should be a given. There’s also a lot of dubious consent. The characters seem like they’re enjoying it at times, but there are moments when they aren’t. So just a word of caution if that’s a trigger for you.

Other than that, this book…oh this book. I loved the show Spartacus and fell in love with Agron and Nasir. This book isn’t like that, don’t get me wrong, but because of my love for them I needed to read Slave Eternal. And now I love Hektor and Lucan. They are incredible characters. Both are vastly different and their depths are astounding. The world Nasia Maksima crafted in this book is unlike any other I’ve read. It’s an interesting mixture of history and fantasy that blends seamlessly to create a believable world where gladiators fight at the whim of their blind Empress.

The fantasy element of this novel comes from slavecraft and a mark called the Ebon, which binds a person to their master. Once the Ebon is initiated, the slave must do whatever their master bids, even if in their heart they know what’s happening and don’t want to. Legend has it that only true love can defeat the Ebon, but can it? Stratos—the villain—certainly doesn’t think so, and based on occurrences before the novel, it doesn’t seem like it either.

There are no fluffy moments in this book. Sure, there is romance, but the reality of the world is harsh and brutal. These are men trained to—as the author puts it—fight and fuck. They either kill their opponents in the arena, or they face them in the Claim the next morning, where they have sex with them. It might sound strange, but for the mythology of the world, it works. In order to grow stronger, they believe that the seed of the stronger opponent being shared with the loser makes the defeated gladiator stronger. So there’s your dubious consent, but it’s not exploitative at all. It works. Perfectly.

I should also make a note about the sex. If you’re a reader who likes just one or two sex scenes per book, then this is not for you. If you don’t like descriptive sex, then this is not for you. The sex these men have is not written with purple prose disguising their act. Nope. It’s brutal and honest, just as the men are. It’s hard to make me blush, but I blushed through a lot of these scenes. And while there is a lot of sex, it actually pushed the story forward. Finding that in this genre can be difficult, but Maksima did it masterfully.

I could go on for days about this book. It was my last read of 2014, and man did I hit a winner with it. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series because I know whatever happens, it will be done with a skilled hand.

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You can buy Slave Eternal here:

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