Book Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

{BOOK REVIEW}
Title: Captive Price (Captive Prince #1)
Author: @cspacat
Reviewer: Grace
Genre: Literary Fiction, M/M
Length: 241 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars

Synopsis

From global phenomenon C. S. Pacat comes the first in her critically acclaimed trilogy—with a bonus story.

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
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For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

Grace Review

A richly woven story of a man struggling to find his place in a new world where he no longer is in control of his future. Under the backdrop of royalty, with erotic undertones and building connections, a former Prince adjusts to his new role as slave.

This trilogy had so much buzz this past year, that I purchased all three paperbacks without knowing too much about the story. I knew of the royal M/M theme, but that’s about it. Finally having some time in my reading schedule to tackle the series, I dug right in.

While this series isn’t fantasy, it has a similar element in being in a completely fictional world. I’m grateful the author provided a character index, because the story has an odd abrupt beginning, making me feel immediately lost. However, after reviewing the index multiple times, I started to find my place in the story.

Given all that has happened to Damen over a short period of time, I was surprised how he adjusted to his new life in the Veretian court. Especially given Laurent’s stoic personality. Laurent is such an odd character to figure out. He masks his emotions perfectly that it was hard for Damen to understand him, and thus the reader as well. At times, he is cruel and sadistic, and other times, compassionate and protective.

As often seen in books with a royal theme, there were elements of sabotage and backstabbing, with men maneuvering for positions in the Court. Although I didn’t immediately like Laurent, with time, I began to feel sorry for him and the fate that seemed to await him. And as hinted to in the synopsis, Damen’s past could completely undo the connection he slowly was building with Laurent.

For a book with an M/M theme, this one wasn’t in your face. Every erotic scene had a forbidden element, with slave battles ending in “rape”. I put that in quotations because it becomes clear that both men are ultimately playing a role for the viewers. I found myself hoping for that moment of shared pleasure between Damen and Laurent, but I’ll leave you in the dark as to what transpires between them.

Just as the story began, it ends abruptly with the two men heading off to battle. Although there isn’t a cliffhanger to bait me into starting the next book, I’m intrigued and eager to see where this story will lead.

– Grace

PURCHASE LINKS
Book 1, Captive Prince: Amazon USAmazon UKiTunes

{BOOK REVIEW}
Title: Price’s Gambit (Captive Prince #2)
Length: 343 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

The second novel in the critically acclaimed trilogy from global phenomenon C. S. Pacat—with an all-new chapter exclusive to the print edition.

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

Grace Review
It is very rare that I am able to read a book in one day.
Either life gets in the way, or my limited attention span prevents it.
Neither were the case with book two in this trilogy, which in my mind, is even better than the first book.

There is sooooo much going on in this story. The intensity of the battles counterbalanced with the growing sexual tension between Damen and Laurent, was spellbinding. Never a dull moment.

Preparing for Battle
One of the most intriguing parts of the story was Laurent’s path towards battle. It’s not something he relished. He doesn’t share the courage and skills that his brother, Auguste, did prior to his death. On top of that, he is given what I’d consider as second tier soldiers. However, with Damen’s assistance, Laurent and his troops become stronger.

Victories didn’t come easy, but I loved to see Laurent begin to embrace the role he never wanted. And with each victory, Laurent and troops gain confidence and hope that the fate that awaits them won’t be the blood bath they first expected.

The greatest moments of tension involve the backstabbing and sabotage that seem to plague this series. Family connections mean nothing. It is all about power and prestige, and some characters will do anything to obtain it. Given what we know about Damen, I was surprised by his level of commitment to Laurent.

Slooooooooooooow Burn
Will Laurent and Damen ever get together?
Obviously, I can’t answer this question.

If you are like me, this couple will torment you. Maybe I’m hopefully optimistic and trying to force a square into a circular space, but to me despite the frequent lows and occasional highs shared between them, I could see them getting closer day by day. Trust was built and they began to let their guard down (although complete honestly doesn’t appear to be their forte).

My overall thoughts on Damen and Laurent while reading:
“Maybe now they’ll get together now?”
“Or not.”
“Definitely something happening now.”
“Or not.”
“NOW?!?!”
“For fuck’s sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

LOL, get the picture?

To get what you want, you have to know exactly how much you are willing to give up.

What I can say is that the dynamics between these two seem to change daily and how Damen struggles to understand those changing dynamics. This couldn’t be more evident that when he is challenged to reveal his secret (not spoiling). As you can guess, it is only a matter of time before the secret is known. What is impossible to guess, is how that secret will change everything.

While it took me some time to adjust to the story-line in book one, I am 100% invested in this story now, and waited about 2 minutes after finishing this book, to start book three. So happy to see this series living up to the hype.

– Grace

PURCHASE LINKS
Book 2, Prince’s Gambit: Amazon USAmazon UKiTunes

{BOOK REVIEW}
Title: Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3)
Length: 363 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis

The worldwide phenomenon continues—from the boldly original author of Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit.

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne? 

Grace Review
Three books.
947 pages.
10 days to read (note, I would have likely read faster if I read these on my kindle).

Two men.
Multiple enemies.
All the feels.

Not only did this series live up to the hype, it did something that I rarely find – each book got better than the one before.

Just look at my ratings:
Book 1 – 4.25 stars
Book 2 – 4.5 stars
Book 3 – 5 stars

Given the war theme, this series has an EPIC feel. Lives and land ownership hang in the balance, royal positions at risk, and the fate of two men who have the chance to come together to conquer while healing each other.

“But when you give your affections . . . When you give a man your loyalty, your faith in him is unswerving. You would fight for him with your last breath, you would hear no word spoken against him, and you would go to the grave with his spear in your side.”

If you thought that Damen and Laurent are finally on the same page, you are in for some heartache. I knew Damen’s secret was going to blow up and cause problems. What I did not expect AT ALL, was Laurent’s reaction. So it had me second guessing everything, just as Damen did.

What I loved about this book and this series is how unpredictable everything was. Reading over 100 romance books a year, you begin to pick up on author tricks. Only this author had a new bag of tricks and she laid each one out perfectly, so I was constantly on my toes. It was impressive enough in how she built this complex relationship between Damen and Laurent that seems to break all the rules. However, what was more impressive was the complex battles and strategies that were laid throughout this book. Every part had its place, every person had their role in the outcome. It became the ultimate chess match, who could outwit the other players.

“You were never a slave, Damianos. You were born to rule, as I was.”

This is a series that is worth your time. So do it. Set aside the time. It took me 10 days, and it may take you more or less depending on your reading pace and life getting in the way. But I urge readers to make the time, it is most definitely worth it!!

Take me for who I am.

– Grace

PURCHASE LINKS
Book 3, Kings Rising: Amazon USAmazon UKiTunes

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