Publisher: Gatto; 1 edition (February 4, 2013)
Format: Paperback & Kindle
Genre: M/M Romance
Reviewed by: Judith
Score: 10/10 (believe me, if I could give higher I would. Like a 1000000000 times higher)
Plot: Damen is the heir to the throne of Akielos. He has been groomed for this his entire life, waging war with neighboring Vere and striking down their heir-apparent, Auguste, on the battlefield. Years later, when his father dies, Damen’s half-brother stages a coup that sends him to Vere, disguised as a pleasure slave gifted to Auguste’s brother and new heir, Laurent. Intrigue and sinister plots abound in Laurent’s court which is held in trust by his Uncle, the Regent. Laurent hates all the Damen stands for: a country of warriors who killed his brother and father and placed him under his uncle’s thumb. He devises cruel tortures and diabolical intrigue to try and break him. But Damen has only one thought, return to his homeland and reclaim his throne. When the Regent forces Laurent from the capital city to the far reaching forts near to Akielos, Damen believes he finally has his chance to get revenge on Laurent for his mistreatment and on his own brother for stealing his throne. What he does not count on is the fragile trust and friendship that blooms between himself and Laurent on the long trek North. As that friendship blossoms into something more, Damen is forced to choose between loyalty to his people, to himself, and to Laurent as intrigue follows them closer and closer to his native land.
Review: So rarely does a book capture my imagination anymore. Sure, I get absorbed in a story, surfacing only at the end and feeling heart-sore that it is over. Usually at this point, it’s on to the next book in our neverending queue with a little bit of sadness that I have to give up the imaginary world in which I was immersed. But with Captive Prince, I surfaced and there was no heartbreak cause I just dove right back in, rereading the two books in this series two times in a row. That’s twice in two days, people. I forgot about any books I needed to read and stuff that needed to happen in my real life and just read these over and over. I read it on the Kindle and then thought, “Huh…that was so good, I gotta buy it in paperback so I can enjoy this reading experience even more!”.
In a word these books are: fantastic. FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. The world-creating is stellar, the character development is phenomenal, and the story itself is so full of intrigue and machinations that you won’t know who to root for until the end. And that end is a cliffhanger so even then the mystery and tension doesn’t let up and you’ll be left biting your nails and wringing your hands dying to know what will happen next. Because there’s no way you can guess! Why? Cause S.U. Pacat is a writing force to be reckoned with and she leaves you with the undeniable knowledge that she’s in control of this world. I’m serious: you will never be able to guess what happens so don’t even try. Even worse (or better?) you never have a clue who is villain and who is hero. This ambiguity of character will leave you with a surge of emotion that is constantly changing sides. I am never breathless when reading a book but this, this had me riveted.
The one inherently heroic character here is Damen, the would-be king forced into slavery by a treacherous brother. His new master, Laurent, uses and abuses him so cruelly that you’re sure that even though this is billed as a romance, he won’t factor in on it. Laurent humiliates, punishes, and terrorizes Damen in a way that would break a lesser man. But Damen rises above it, his own relief is knowing that one day he will revenge himself on his brother and Laurent. Since the story is told from Damen’s point of view, we feel every abuse he faces and hate right along with him. But therein lies the mastery of Pacat’s writing. Somewhere along the way, through this rough and tumble give and take between Damen and his master, the idea of Laurent as an evil, pompous aristocrat shifts and we are able to see him as noble and evocative. The story of their relationship is so artfully crafted and subtle that by the end of book 2 you’ll find yourself rooting for these two princes to fall in love even though it means that some horrible repercussions will follow for themselves and their countries.
Book I is at its core a fantasy story of courtly intrigue; book II is the story of friendship and love being found once the trappings of the court are left far behind. These are two of the most rich, finely written, perfectly honed pieces of literature I have read to date. EVER. I cannot recommend anything more highly than that. If you’re on the fence, give it a shot. I promise, even if the idea of m/m romance bothers you, the world found within Captive Prince will be enough to keep you thoroughly entranced.
In the end, I’m giving this: 10/10
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the hero: 10. Damen is in no particular order: trustworthy, straightforward, amazingly good with a sword, sexy, honest, heroic, and total king material. He is the ultimate hero.
How much did I like the villain: 10. It’s like S.U.Pacat dug around in my brain and came up with the most infuriatingly sexy male antagonist that Judith would love and love to hate. Blond, blue-eyed, cunning, brilliant, a sexy swordsman, caring, loyal (in his own way), ambitious…my list of all the things I love about Laurent could go on and on.
How believable is the plot: 10. Okay, this is fantasy so I believe it all! Sure, Pacat draws heavily on Greek, Spartan, and French influence to create the world of Vere and Akielos but it is a wholly made up land so pretty much anything she says goes. The intrigue and deadly plots played out here read exactly like you’d imagine would happen at court. It’s decadent and lively and keeps you and the characters on its toes.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. S.U. Pacat is an amazing writer. She writes with a brevity that Hemingway spent his life trying to achieve. Her phrasing tells so much and is so rich that three words from her will give you a world. The dialogue is sparse but what we are given holds a wealth of nuance. Ever meet someone and think, “Wow, she really sees the world in a different way!” Well, Pacat, hats off to you: you see the world in a way that I cannot begin to imagine.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. Not for the faint of heart: this ends in one mother of a cliffhanger. Right when we were getting to the crux of the romance and intrigue, BAM! Pacat throws a punch and we’re left reeling. I want to keep reading. MY GOD DO I WANT TO KEEP READING. It is so good that you very well may throw your kindle/paperbook against a wall. Just warning you now.
Final Score: 10/10. Like I said before, this is new territory for us to review and the m/m aspect may turn some of you off. So be it. I get that. But you’d be missing a truly breathtaking book by not giving it a shot so all I can urge you is to try it. This will more than likely be my top read of 2013 so be warned! A whole lotta praising is sure to follow…