Dominus - J.P. Kenwood
It’s a pretty rare thing when I can say a book hooked me completely just from the prologue and epilogue but really, everything that happened between those two chapters was the icing on the proverbial cake. JP Kenwood’s Dominus is an Alt History erotic novel that begins and ends in the current era but largely takes place in the year 107 AD, in the Roman Empire under the emperor Trajan’s rule.

The book opens at an archeological site in modern Rome, where a mystery is uncovered, one involving characters who’re soon after introduced and then are left to carry the remainder of the story until the epilogue brings the plot around full circle. Gaius Fabius, the red haired Roman warrior who led the battle to conquer the Dacian nation is the lusty Dominus whose story is told in those central chapters. He is a man whose charm and libido rival each other for dominance throughout the story, as he masters his slaves, both male and female, while also attempting to gain control over his latest, and most costly conquest, a fiery spoil of war, Allerix, a Dacian prince whose heart is in jeopardy of becoming lost to the man who has already robbed him of his freedom.

There are several central characters in this novel, or at least characters who are integral to the storytelling. Maximus, a former pleasure slave now freeman, along with two sex slaves, Simon and Nicomedes, who help to flesh out Gaius as both a man and as a master. Lucius Petronius is Gaius’s long-time friend and illicit lover, and it was this friendship of equals that showed a much softer side to the Commander. The relationship Gaius has with the women in his life, from his wife to his slaves, serves to illustrate that sexual labels didn’t apply in certain cases, but sex most certainly had social restrictions placed upon it. It was widely accepted that sex between a master and his male slaves was a right. Sex between a man and his male peer was not, an interesting and puzzling distinction that gave an emotional edge to Lucius and Gaius’s bond.

The relationship between Gaius and Allerix is only just beginning to be explored in Dominus, and I’m anxious to see where the author is going with their story, especially as it ties in with the beginning and ending of this book. Murder and political intrigue promise to play a pretty significant role in the lives of these two men as the story progresses, and the author has baited the hook to guarantee I’ll be back for Book Two to see where these characters will go.

Dominus, as a whole, reads something like a long prologue to the promise of something more; what’s inside the covers of this installment is the slow burn, where the introduction of all the players needed to happen now so the real meat of the story arc can be told in the next book. The build up to the storyline between Gaius and Allerix was a little like torture at times, but my need to see what would happen between these two men kept me turning pages, and has left me anxious for more.

If you go into Dominus expecting a detailed historical drama or a simple genre romance, your expectations are off base. Read this novel for the bounteous pleasures of the flesh and the promise of the mystery yet to come that JP Kenwood has delivered so handily.

Reviewed by Lisa at The Novel Approach