REVIEW: Damon’s Price by Ali Katz
Dear Ms. Katz,
Since I love the time frame, I’ve done a number of reviews of books set in ancient Rome and am always on the look out for more. Hence when Samhain offered us your book, “Damon’s Price,” this month, I pounced. Pounce is a good word to use here since the book involves a hot Roman Cougar heroine x hot Greek slave hero. Roar!
Thirty-eight year old widow Claudia Sabina has returned to the estate she inherited from her father. She’s wealthy but most importantly, she enjoys a degree of freedom from male control that is rare in her world. Though determined to manage the estate herself, she realizes that the estate steward, a young Greek slave named Damon, is an invaluable resource. Claudia finds him attractive and accepts the physical release he can give her. Such relationships, though officially forbidden, are not unknown and as long as discretion is maintained, no harm, no foul. What she doesn’t realize, until it’s too late, is that not only has Damon fallen in love with her but she has fallen for him. Can Claudia keep her independence? And is there any kind of future for them?
You manage to deliver a lot of information about Claudia’s and Damon’s pasts very economically then dive into the story. Since I’m not initially looking for romance between these two, I’m not dismayed when they begin a physical relationship almost immediately. I’m also delighted that Claudia has no false modesty and goes for what she wants. Since it’s what Damon has dreamt of, I say “go for it.”
The quick glance she'd intended to judge his reaction became a prolonged gaze into his eyes when she recognized in them something she had not seen in a very long time. This beautiful young man lusted for her-‘for her, a woman twelve years his senior. "What would you do?" she whispered.
The sex is hawt and initially their relationship is kept strictly to that – which makes sense. The change to a realization of mutual affection then love, on Claudia’s part since Damon has always loved her, is handled well and I didn’t get a rushed feeling about it.
The intervention, on the part of the world, follows the hints and warnings you’ve included in the text so when it happens, there’s no surprise about it. It’s only the manner in which Damon leaves which I didn’t expect. Their reunion is touching, heartfelt and a neat way around the initial problems their relationship posed.
The main problem I have with the story is in Damon. Simply put, he’s almost too good to be true and he has no character arc. He’s loved Claudia from afar, he loves her physically and emotionally when offered the chance then ends up staying true to her for quite a long while before they can finally be together. He’s an excellent steward, he’s loyal, intelligent, handsome as sin, and a fantastic lover. All that sounds lovely but not too realistic. At least make him snore or scratch in public or get impatient – something that tells me he’s not so perfect. Secondly, he doesn’t change – at all – over the course of the book. He reaches no revelations on his own, he doesn’t grow as a character, he just stays perfect and static.
His attitude towards his slavery also seemed a little off to me. Had he been born a slave, I could see his seemingly easy acceptance of his servitude but as he wasn’t always a slave, his perfect submission was odd. His experiences before coming to the estate also seem to have left little mark on him emotionally. Perhaps this is all in tune with the mores of the day but it all struck me as odd.
I enjoyed a lot about the book and think you did a good job with the timing and pacing. It was neither too long nor too short. The resolution of Damon’s slavery seems believable and a HEA granted to two people who deserve it. But Damon needed – something. Some growth or emotional stretching. Just something. B-