Erryn reviews Blood Before Wine (Dominus #3) by JP Kenwood. The book was released by the author on January 31, 2019 and is 440 pages long. The audiobook was narrated by Hannibal Hills and Nick J. Russo. The audio was released April 1, 2021 and is 16hrs and 18mins. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Honorable Mention in the 2019 Rainbow Book Awards!
Conquer. Own. Sacrifice everything.
Gaius Fabius knows a healthy son will secure his claim to the throne of Rome, but his devotion to his illegal Dacian pleasure slave, Allerix, could destroy his dreams of supreme power. Determined to solve the mysterious murder of a dear friend, Gaius searches for clues hidden deep in the palace that threaten his future and his family.
But while he and Allerix share passions in and out of the bedchamber, another assassination sends Gaius and his captured prince back to the vanquished kingdom of Dacia. In order to protect his beloved concubine, can Gaius find the courage to sacrifice his own heart?
Lose. Submit. Betray everyone.
Allerix knows vengeance for the vicious destruction of his homeland is within tantalizing reach, but only if he can convince his Roman master to trust him. When an unexpected ally interrupts his plans, Alle sets aside his lust for revenge to embrace the ecstasy of Gaius’ unbridled devotion.
But a surprise reunion with a childhood friend and an unforeseen return trip to Dacia remind Allerix of all he has lost while revealing the honor and glory that remain to be won. To earn the respect of his surviving kinsmen, can Alle betray the only man he has ever loved?
Dominus is a plot-packed m/m historical fantasy set in ancient Rome during the reign of Trajan (AD 98-117). Blood Before Wine is the third book in this four-book alternative history saga – a tumultuous adventure of forbidden love, humor, friendship, political intrigue, deception, and murder.
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.
See Erryn’s review of Book 2 audio here.
I’m really enjoying this series. Yes, it’s violent. Yes, there are difficult scenes. Yes, I’m on the edge of my seat wishing for a happy ending yet knowing it’s unlikely. I went into this book believing it to be the last in the series and the ending, although unsatisfying, did have a finality to it. Then I discovered the author is writing a fourth book (which is right in the syllabus, which proves I don’t actually read them). I can’t wait to listen to it.
Allerix, in this book, is still a slave. He’s a prince in his homeland of Dacia but he was captured by the Romans, then bought by Gaius. Gaius wanted to possess his slave, but he’s quickly discovering the relationship is far more than he bargained for. He’s developed feelings for his slave, all the while knowing his wife and mistress are both pregnant with his child. If it is a boy child, it’s likely he’ll be named Trajan’s successor. So much riding on such a small tiny bundle.
A lot happens in this book, which is why it clocks in at just over sixteen hours. I set aside a chunk of several days, knowing I wanted to spend my time, soaking in the ambiance and embracing the historical aspects of the book. There was very little predictable about this story, and I think that’s why I enjoy this series. To see the developing relationship between Gaius and Allerix is drawing me in, all the while knowing a happy ending is not on the horizon. Allerix is destined to lead the Dacians – if he can return to his homeland – and Gaius is destined to lead the Romans – if he can be named successor.
I hungrily await the next book. I’m always impressed with where this author has taken me, and where she has yet to go. On another note, I want to compliment the two narrators. Nick J. Russo bookends the narration as he handles the modern-day professor who has discovered the extraordinary treasure of a dagger, whose story he seeks, even knowing he’ll likely never know everything. Hannibal Hills carries the load of the book, transporting me to Rome in AD107. Like I said, bring on the final chapter and let me see how Allerix and Gaius resolve their lives.
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.