Erryn reviews Games of Rome (Dominus #2) by JP Kenwood. The book was released by the author on November 18, 2015 and is about 348 pages long. The audiobook was narrated by Hannibal Hills and Nick J. Russo. The audio was released July 24, 2020 and is 14hrs and 5mins. A copy was provide in exchange for an honest review.
In this sequel to Dominus, Gaius Fabius Rufus, the victorious general of Rome’s brutal Dacian Wars, finds his loyalties and his affections pulled in different directions. Should he return to Rome and secure his claim to the imperial throne, or remain at his seaside villa and protect his pleasure slave, the fierce Dacian prince, Allerix? Retaliation for the murder of his beloved friend beckons him home, but his desire for justice could put both him and Allerix in mortal danger. As Gaius’s deceptions multiply, another tragedy strikes. Will the Lion of the Lucky IV Legion be forced to sacrifice his besotted heart to achieve his aspirations for supreme power?
Every moment since Allerix’s violent capture has tested the young prince’s fortitude and cunning. If he can kill the triumphant emperor who decimated his Dacian nation, revenge and immortality will be his glorious, everlasting rewards. But to realize his scheme for vengeance, he must deceive the Roman master whom he has grown to adore and admire. Can two former enemies – the conqueror and the conquered – find trust and true love, or are the consequences of war destined to tear them apart? Can Gaius and Allerix survive the perilous games of Rome?
See Marc’s review of Book 1 here.
See Marc’s review of Book 2 here.
See Marc’s review of Book 3 here.
See Erryn’s review of Book 1 audio here.
Slave narratives are often problematic because unless you’re showing the true horrors of being a slave, there’s a question about the depiction. Were there good masters who treated their slaves well? Possibly. But that didn’t change the fact the person was in bondage. That the horrific power imbalance would always exist. That no matter how comfortable the life of the slave, there would never be true freedom. True enjoyment of life.
Okay, all that being said, this is a work of fiction, and I have to say Ms. Kenwood does depict the harshness of slavery during the Roman empire. Allerix was a Dacian prince, ripped from his homeland that’d been decimated. He’s sold into bondage to Gaius Fabius Rufus. (Can I just say there are plenty of characters, many of whom had multiple names so, at times, it was a struggle to keep up? But this is a book of political intrigue, so I did understand.)
Gaius’ best friend has been murdered and Gaius has promised retribution to the guilty party. Problem is that he doesn’t know who committed the dastardly deed, and even the ghost of his dead friend isn’t a lot of help. Didn’t predict there would be a ghost scene, but I’ve learned to roll when it comes to these books. Oh, and let me mention these are very violent books. One scene in particular was a little traumatizing for me – but it was meant to be. A reminder of the life and times of the Romans. A hint of what might happen to Allerix should his plan to kill the emperor to exact revenge be discovered. The man does almost get derailed by his feelings for Gaius. Those problematic ones I was discussing earlier. But it’s clear the men do care for each other – or at least satisfy each other’s physical needs.
There’s one more book in the series and I’m excited to see how things conclude. Of course I’m hoping Allerix is able to kill the emperor, but I know that will leave him in a terrible position. It’ll likely cost him his life. To him, it’ll totally be worth it.
Finally, you might wonder why there are two narrators. Nick J. Russo narrates the beginning and end of the books as a modern-day archeologist digging up Rome’s history. Hannibal Hills narrates the bulk of the book – the past Rome. I enjoy his narration but occasionally the women are a little irritating. I sometimes wondered if that was the narration or the characterization. Possibly a bit of both. Anyway, not enough to take away from the enjoyment of the book. Can’t wait for the next one to see how this saga ends.
8.5/10 Pots of Gold (85% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars
When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a dusty history tome, JP Kenwood relishes reading and writing plot-packed erotic m/m fiction with strong romantic elements sprinkled with humor and angst. Her alternate history series, Dominus, features an ensemble of memorable characters—masters and slaves, senators and soldiers, lawyers and freedmen, wives and whores—who live, laugh, and lust during the Golden Age of imperial Rome.