5 Stars, JP Kenwood, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Games of Rome by JP Kenwood

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Games of Rome (Dominus: Book Two)

Author: JP Kenwood

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 339 Pages

At a Glance: If you love a plotty and well written historical with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, I can’t recommend this series enough.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: 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 whose body he lusts, the handsome, arrogant man 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?

Dominus is a plot-packed erotic m/m fantasy set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117). Games of Rome is the second book in this alternative history saga—a tumultuous journey of forbidden love, humor, sex, friendship, political intrigue, deception, and murder.

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Review: I love when a book meets every one of my expectations. I love even more when a book exceeds them, and JP Kenwood’s Games of Rome does just that in every way. I was so impressed by the author’s Dominus, and now, that book’s sequel has proven Kenwood’s talent for solid storytelling, building beautiful settings, offering the perfect amount of historical context, creating engaging and layered characters, and tapping into readers’ emotions. I don’t mind admitting this book wrung a few tears from me either. When an author can accomplish that, forming those sorts of attachments between reader and characters, it makes the reading all the more rewarding.

Gaius Fabius Rufus, the Lion of the Lucky Fourth, is many things–Commander, war hero, husband, master, and friend and former lover of Lucius Petronius. Where this book exceeded my expectations is not only that the historical setting is portrayed in such a way that grounds the reader in what feels like an authentic Ancient Rome, but that the book also is a compelling mystery–both in the past and in modern day Rome. Lucius’s murder becomes a central focus of Games of Rome as we watch Gaius grieve, promise retribution, seek absolution while often seeming a walking contradiction–warm and tender one moment, cold and commanding the next, charming and sometimes cruel. Gaius is nothing if not a mercurial man whose arrogance seems to know no bounds–if I’m being honest, he isn’t always easy to like–but is tempered by that ability to charm. Where the book offers a bit of the unexpected, however, is in its supernatural elements. This was so unexpected that I wasn’t certain how I felt about it at first, but it was woven into the storyline in such a way that became integral to the plot, and now I can’t imagine how the story would have been better without it. As for the modern day mystery, this is being teased out in the tiniest of morsels, and this installment has only served to pique my interest even more. Archeology uncovers its share of secrets from the past, though it doesn’t always provide answers. There are definitely more questions than answers right now surrounding the pair of skeletons discovered at a dig site, and I haven’t a clue what JP Kenwood will reveal in further storylines. All I know for sure is that the author baited that hook and I’m hanging on gladly.

From the Emperor to clients to slaves, Gaius has a life filled with a variety of diverse people and experiences, all entrenched in the Ancient Roman culture and portrayed beautifully in these books. I don’t know much about this historical period but can say Kenwood seems to have not only an interest in but an affinity for the era. Ancient Rome dominated, it was the seat of some of the world’s most impressive art and architecture, and the Romans were responsible for many advancements in civilization at the time, but, to our sensibilities, it was also a barbaric time in which people sat in arenas and watched prisoners of war be eaten for sport. Slavery was commonplace – both household servants and pleasure slaves, male and female, owned by both Gaius and his wife, Marcia – and these books feature several prominent slaves in key roles. Sex, for Gauis, is a near sport in itself, where he can display his prowess and dominance and, with one slave in particular, his benevolence, and those moments of contradictory cruel tenderness come to the fore. Alle, a Dacian prince, war prize, and now, Gaius’s most prized possession, has captured his Dominus’s heart and has added another dimension of intrigue to the plot. Their relationship is fraught with complications and questions and potential hazards. Can either of these men manage not to betray each other? I can hardly see how it will be avoided and am anxious to see how their relationship progresses.

One of the more interesting characteristics of this series is Gaius’s marriage, as well as the social contradiction of men having sex with other men. There is no expectation of monogamy in the marriage as is certainly portrayed on Gaius’s part; nor is bisexuality strictly taboo. It was, however, unacceptable for men to engage in a sexual relationship with a peer. Same sex encounters were left strictly between slave and master, which is what adds such a poignant end note to Gaius and Lucius’s affair. I love that these books are informative but not in a textbook way. The author weaves these small details into the plot in a way that makes them all the more interesting, and, when it comes down to it, makes this series unique in the LGBT fiction genre.

If you love a plotty and well written historical with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, I can’t recommend this series enough.

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You can buy Games of Rome here:

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Amazon US

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Alicia Cameron, Fantastic Fiction Publishing, Giveaways

Excerpt and Giveaway: Sedition by Alicia Cameron

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Today we’re so pleased to offer you an exclusive excerpt from Alicia Cameron’s new novel Sedition, Book Two in the Demoted series from Fantastic Fiction Publishing. FFP is also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book. You can enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Excerpt: He’s mine, and I want to make him feel good again. I missed touching him, and if the way he thrusts himself against me is any sign, he misses being touched. I tease him, working his body to relax and open for me, flicking my tongue out and over his cock, biting gently at the insides of his legs. Everything is calm for once, and I want to take my time with him.

Sascha tries to keep speaking, but he quickly loses the ability. I keep touching him, feeling him yield to me. For once, there are no immediate threats hanging over either of our heads, and I let myself relax, feeling myself grow hard and excited as I do. I slide up, kissing Sascha deeply, pressing against his body with mine. After I’ve taken all I can handle, I slide him down the pillows, arranging him on the mattress exactly where I want him. He looks up at me with excitement and a little fear, and I love that I inspire that in him. He leans up to kiss me and I push him back down, holding him there. I like his input, but I have my own ideas of what I want to do with him tonight. When he acquiesces, lying still for me, I climb on top of him, framing his body with my own, lining my cock up, ready to take him. I pause, admiring him below me.

He shudders, just slightly, and he smiles up at me. I keep pinning him there, even as he tries to move. He wiggles his ass against my cock a tiny bit until I push a little harder, forcing him to stay still.

“You’re mine,” I remind him, pressing him hard into the mattress with my hands and my hips.

Sascha nods, and I can feel his cock growing harder between us. “Prove it,” he challenges me, although his tone is barely different from begging.

I don’t deny him. I prove just how much he is mine, and I do so slowly, holding him down when he even tries to move. He tries to take me into him faster, meeting my thrusts, but I won’t have it. I force him to wait, to feel me sliding in and out of him slowly, sensually. I feel his arms twitch; he’s trying to grab me and pull me closer, but I trap him and keep him pinned to the bed. I make my way inside of him as slowly as I can tolerate, and when I finish, I continue to hold him in place. I smile at him feeling like I’ve won the challenge.

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Blurbs

SubjectionSubjection (Demoted: Book One): In a world where intellect and achievement are valued above all else, a young man risks everything to save his brother from a life of slavery. Thrown into a harsh, unyielding world where slaves are treated as less than animals, Sascha struggles to come to terms with everything he knows being ripped away from him, but a life of success could never prepare him for his life as one of the Demoted. Sinking lower and lower, Sascha begins to lose hope, but the whim of a mysterious, wealthy man has the potential to change all that.

Cashiel has a dark history that he guards carefully. Between family and business and politics, he rarely has time for a slave, much less a lover. But when he sees a young man who reminds him of the very history he is trying to escape, he makes an impulse decision that he’s not sure whether to regret or not. The slave could expose everything, or he could be the most valuable asset that Cashiel has ever acquired.

Cashiel and Sascha share desires, hopes, and a home. Each man is limited by status, hindered by history, and desperate to succeed. The question is, will that be enough?

Buy Links: Fantastic Fiction Publishing || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble

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SeditionSedition (Demoted: Book Two): Sascha’s world changed when Cashiel Michaud bought him, rescuing him from a brothel and a life of torture. They developed a sexual relationship, but can their relationship amount to more than that? Deceit, lies, and political scandal color not only their world, but their relationship, and dark figures from both men’s pasts threaten to intrude on the few moments of peace they have. A slave is never safe from harm, nor is an outcast family member. In the end, are Sascha and Cash strong enough to face the challenges, or will they be torn apart forever?

Buy Links: Fantastic Fiction Publishing || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble

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Author BioAbout the Author: Alicia Cameron has been making up stories since before she can remember. After discovering erotica during a high school banned books project, she never really turned back. She lives in Denver, Colorado with a tiny dog and rabbit who conspire regularly to distract her from doing anything productive. By day she works in the mental health field and is passionate about youth rights and welfare. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, glitter, and punk rock concerts.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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5 Stars, Faith Ashlin, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Totally Bound

Review: To Stand Close by Faith Ashlin

Title: To Stand Close

Author: Faith Ashlin

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 223 Pages

At a Glance: Surprisingly deep and thought provoking.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Can love grow and survive for two men on opposite sides of the deepest of chasm—slavery?

In this world one country has cut itself off, and is closed and mysterious to everyone else. What’s the secret it’s hiding? Magic? Monsters? No, just the cruel reality of slavery. But inside its borders life goes on as normal, and it competes with the rest of the world at sport just like everyone else, just to prove that it’s the best.

Nicky accepts that, and is happy in his own small, simple life as a gymnastics coach. He accepts it because he’s never known anything else, but he stays as far away from the brutality of slavery as he can, until he’s given a present he doesn’t want and isn’t allowed to refuse.

As for love? Well, he loves his sport, isn’t that enough?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of slavery.

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Review: I was completely surprised by this book. The premise sounded intriguing, and I thought I was going to get a little angst, a lot of romance, and…something else. To be honest, at this point I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t a book that would leave me thinking about the characters and the world they live in well after the fact.

To Stand Close is a tough one to read because in this alternate world, a country has cut itself off from the rest of the world because it still practices slavery. When Nicky receives a slave as a gift from the mothers of the girls he coaches for gymnastics, he doesn’t want him because he doesn’t want to think about slavery. He doesn’t agree with it, but he doesn’t really care. He has his own problems to worry about, and slavery is not one of them. But when he sees the fear in the slave’s eyes at the thought of being returned to the preparation center, he agrees to take him.

It’s clear from the outset that Nicky is a good man. He isn’t going to use the slave for anything. Not even cleaning his home. But then, in this country, slaves are good for only one thing: sex. They can be used in any way their owner wants, and that’s it. They can even be passed around to others if the owner wants. And, more terrifyingly, if their owner isn’t around, they’re fair game.

The slave is Michael. He initially is a heartbreaking character. Every time he was on the page my heart ached for him, so unsure of himself and desperate to do anything not to go back to the slave prep center. And it becomes even more awful when you discover where he’s from and how he became a slave in this awful country. Nicky promises to do everything in his power to keep Michael safe because, at first, well, that’s his responsibility.

But it changes.

Throughout the course of the novel Nicky falls in love with Michael, and that’s where the questions start to come in. Nicky is, technically, his master, even if they don’t see themselves as master and slave. So how can Nicky ever be sure Michael really does want to have sex with him? He might say it, but how can he know? Because even though Nicky is a great guy, technically he could just take it if he wanted to. He has Michael’s paperwork.

Most of the time when I read books where there is angst and miscommunication, or lack of listening, I get frustrated, but with this book, it was completely believable and I understood the deeper issues at hand. Nicky is completely right in fearing Michael is doing it to keep him “sweet,” as he says. And while Michael doesn’t seem like that kind of guy, let’s face it, he really is at a disadvantage. If Nicky were to say screw it one day, he could very well end up in a terrible place. And for a slave in this country, he has it made.

I felt for these characters so much. And my heart broke. Often. The ending was good, but I would love more from Michael and Nicky. I want to know what happens to them next. And I want to read more set in this world. I know it might sound terrible, but I want to see how other people react to their slaves and what they do to try to change it.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer






You can buy To Stand Close here:

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4 Stars, Darrah Glass, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Review: A Most Personal Property by Darrah Glass

Title: A Most Personal Property

Author: Darrah Glass

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 460 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: In the heat of August 1900, Henry Blackwell—rich, handsome, and painfully shy—anticipates the purchase of his companion slave, that most personal of properties, with equal parts excitement and dread. There are limits to what a gentleman might do with his slave and still remain a gentleman, and what Henry craves goes far beyond what’s allowed. Continue reading

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Nikki McCoy, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Shattered Heart by Nikki McCoy

Title: Shattered Heart

Author: Nikki McCoy

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 185 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: In a world of devastation and slavery, two men must find the courage to overcome the pain of their pasts and fight for what they believe in–or fall, forever lost, to the ravages of war.

Biochemical war has devastated the landscape. Societies have fallen to territorial battles and new laws have arisen, of which leaders were made by blood and force, and slavery was condoned. Continue reading

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4 Stars, A.M. Sexton, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

A.M. Sexton’s “Release” Is A Can’t-Put-It-Down Novel


“Infinity yawned both above and below, and in between there was only me. If Donato released me, I would cease to exist. I’d be swallowed by the sky. But he held me fast, and I breathed deep. I drank the night. I tasted the stars. I made love to the sea. The enormity of it brought tears to my eyes. I felt wondrously alive – wild and pure and achingly free.” – A.M. Sexton


Title: Release (Davlova: Book One)

Author: A.M. Sexton

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Davlova: a poverty-ridden city-state ruled by a tyrannical upper class. Resources are scarce and technology is illegal. But in the slums, revolution is brewing.
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4.5 Stars, Amazon Digital Services, JP Kenwood, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

JP Kenwood’s “Dominus” Is Sex And Slavery And A Scintillating Mystery


“I fear that when it comes to you, cățel, I may have inadvertently opened Pandora’s box.” – JP Kenwood


Title: Dominus

Author: JP Kenwood

Publisher: JPK Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 285 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: In AD 107, after a grueling campaign against Rome’s fierce enemy, the kingdom of Dacia, Gaius Fabius returns home in triumph. With the bloody battles over, the commander of the Lucky IV Legion now craves life’s simple pleasures: leisurely soaks in fragrant baths, over-flowing cups of wine, and a long holiday at his seaside villa to savor his pleasure slaves. On a whim, he purchases a spirited young Dacian captive and unwittingly sparks a fresh outbreak of the Dacian war; an intimate struggle between two sworn enemies with love and honor at stake.

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