Author ~ Kayla Jameth
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 11 March 2016
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance
Spartan Love: Book One
The Epics of Apollo's Men
Alone, Andreas toils on a remote farmstead for a Spartan overlord. When a kryptes enters his world, Andreas fears for his life. The dread warriors stalk and kill helots—like Andreas' father—as part of their training.
Andreas sees only one way to save himself: he must tame the fearsome warrior.
But what began as self-preservation develops into attraction. Yearning for the company of someone other than his ferret, Ictis, Andreas decides to trust the Spartan warrior and risk the fate that claimed his father.
Born to rule by the sword, Theron sees the world as his and acts accordingly, taking everything Andreas offers and reaching for more. However, love between men in Sparta is considered shameful and requires either exile or suicide to redeem Sparta’s honor. Now, only the gods can save them from the terrible price Sparta extracts from men who desire other men.
The notes on this story say that A Tested Love can be read as a standalone. That statement holds true, but it is best having read book one as it helps to have a deeper understanding of the bond between the people, both Helots, and Spartans. However, I would recommend not reading the novels back to back. They are good, but heavy going. And, my goodness this is a long one. Not that I mind that particular phrase when used in conjunction with stories, especially when coupled with wide. Anyhow, enough deviation from the book in hand.
Theron left Andreas promising to return, but he didn’t. Theron got sidetracked and consequently left Andreas behind in every way possible except for the odd erroneous thought. After months of no show, Andreas (rightfully so) is miffed.
When other events come to light, it turns out that, what Theron saw as protection, Andreas saw as a betrayal. Life is ticking along for Theron, but when Andreas’s name is on a list of men that must be killed, Theron is at a loss as to what to do. Can he kill Andreas? If he doesn’t someone else will.
In book one, which is an excellent introduction into the world of Sparta, the two men meet and can’t stay away from each other. A Tested Love focuses on the realization that Theron and Andreas were born at opposite ends of the social spectrum. It examines how their respective worlds affect their general outlook on life and how to meet somewhere in the middle. There is also an internal and external battle of desire over duty, and as such, both men pray to the Gods. The question is whether their prayers are answered or ignored. The death of a Kryptes brother, whose story is partly told in book one, also, forms a back story to book two.
As with book one, much time is spent in personal thought. The men revisit actions of the past and possible acts of the future, along with a list of outcomes. The further through the story I got, the more irritating the reflective aspect became, as what went through the men’s minds by themselves was repeated to each other. I appreciate why it was done – it helped readers comprehend actions, and it garnered sympathy for Theron. But, upon recognizing words I’d already read, it was tempting to skip over them.
The same repetitive habits appear in A Tested Love as they do in A Spartan Love. Theron and Andreas’s dallying with death is one. Another is Andreas’s mistrust of Theron – which given what happens is understandable, but I didn’t need the constant reminders. Anyone who reads a book of this ilk managed to reach at least high school reading ability and has an attention span greater than an hour of Eastenders. As with book one, the repetitive cycle of words lost their potency rather than increased emotion in me. This is a shame because the tale itself is excellent.
The relationship between Theron and Andreas goes through some storms with frequently changing winds. They’re like a drug to each other that they know shouldn’t be indulged, but can’t help themselves. Ictis (the ferret) is once again a furry star. But, as good as Theron and Andreas are, the characters who stole my heart are Lysander and Coridan. From book one and into book two, their story elicited strong emotions from me.
There are scenes of brilliance – like the men trying to understand the position of the other and the first time of reading a thought. Andreas tried to imagine what it was like growing up as a kryptes and Theron attempted to understand what it was like being under the thumb of Sparta - being considered so low in life that they had to be culled like vermin.
The first half of A Tested Love was great. However, in the second half, I found certain emotions and scenes strung out. As such, this story may well have had the same impact, if not more, with at least a couple of thousand words removed.
Would I read book three in the series? possibly. If it was the last in the series – definitely; because of the story resolution and the fact that I’ve come to care for the characters. Ouch, nasty, I hear myself murmur. I know that sounds cold, but if it weren't the last in the series and seeing the amount of same phrase repetition and whiplash effect from the men’s emotions, I’d be too tempted only to skim read it to follow the specifics of individual characters. I’d like to see Theron and Andreas come together as a unit, to find their peace with each other, if not the world. After the upheaval they go through, they deserve happiness and to trust each other.
Yet, after all, my grumpiness, this deserves a 4.5 because it has the potential to be epic. The world of Theron, Andreas, Ictis, Lysander, Coridan and the Gods (yes they make an appearance too) has a world of research in it and deserves to be read. In fact, I’d happily watch a movie based on this book.