Hi there! I’m really excited to share a review for the second volume of C.S. Pacat’s Captured Prince trilogy. PRINCE’S GAMBIT is a fantastic sequel that had no hope of slowing down. You know how much I loved CAPTIVE PRINCE, well, this book’s BETTER!!!
About the book
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…
This is the second book in a fantasy M/M series that needs to be read in order.
Damen, who is also Prince Damianos of Akelios, was captured and sold into sexual slavery followed by a coup masterminded by his elder half-brother. Damen now slave to the Crown Prince of Vere, Laurent, must hide his identity in order to stay alive. Laurent’s most fervent wish is to kill the Akelians, and is particularly frustrated that Prince Damianos, who killed his elder brother Auguste, died before Laurent could claim his vengeance. Damen’s fervent hope is to return to Akelios and regain his throne, striking down his brother.
At age 20, Laurent is months from gaining his own throne from his uncle, the Regent king, who has served for the past seven years. Laurent’s not interested in his slave Damen, except to torture him, at first. They have reached a rapprochement in the first book, as Damen convinced Laurent that he can help him survive the treacherous Akelios-Vere border patrol the Regent king has pressed Laurent into performing.
Laurent wants to live. Damen knows that keeping Laurent alive will prevent war between Vere and Akelios. Damen knows that Akelios will fall if war erupts, divided in loyalty as it has been by his brother’s ascendancy. Damen is a born leader, having been proven a top commander and combatant in the wars against Vere. Laurent knows that Damen is strong and has a quick mind, but no one will follow the orders of a slave. That said, the commander of Laurent’s troops–a rag-tag batch of mercenaries–is a pawn to the Regent who’s likely been told to maintain disorder, enabling a poor defense for the Prince. Laurent fully expects that he will never see the crown, if his uncle has any say in the matter.
As with the previous book, the plot is rife with cunning and duplicity. Laurent must stay three steps ahead of his uncle’s schemes, and he seems to do so. Damen, against his better instincts, advises Laurent admirably. He knows that he can slip off across the border and regain favor with his own people, but the entanglements the Regent has put in motion threaten to destabilize the entire region, and will undoubtedly cause war.
Damen trains Laurent’s troops, under the guise of another officer, as well as becomes the ultimate protector of Laurent–who engages in espionage more than once. Damen’s internal conflicts are many and fierce. Laurent is his sworn enemy, and would kill him if her knew his identity. Yet, their close quarters raises feelings of respect and admiration for the man that had brutally punished him previously. Also, the more that Damen is placed in battle, the more that his adversaries begin to see he is not a pleasure slave. He is a battle-hardened warrior, and resembles greatly the lost prince–threatening his anonymity.
I absolutely loved this story. The twists and turns are astounding. Laurent will stop at nothing to keep his life, and land, from war, even fighting his own lords to destroy the Regent’s influence. The Regent is just as duplicitous, and has the might of the land on his side. Laurent, Damen and their troops are often outnumbered, and usually out-matched, and yet they persevere due to Damen’s martial acumen and Laurent’s bravado. I could not turn the pages fast enough.
The book series is a M/M romance, and we do see the elements build here. The first book: no intimacy. This book, some intimacy. Laurent is called the Ice Prince for good reason. (I’m betting that he hasn’t had a “lover” in many years because he’s a molestation survivor.) That said, the long hours of travel, training, strategy and escape have welded Laurent and Damen together. Damen wants to escape and is simultaneously drawn to Laurent, not entirely out of duty. The print edition has a bonus chapter that really gets into the nitty-gritty of their intimacy. #Love
Still, it’s a very, very small part of this story. Expect so much more.
The book, as part of a larger series, ends on a cliffhanger. The third book, Kings Rise, will decide who survives. My money’s on Damen and Laurent. And not only as kings who share a border. I’m thinking these two will share a royal bedchamber as equals, too.
About the Author:
C.S. Pacat is a Melbourne writer. Her first series the Captive Prince trilogy began its life as an original web serial. Self-published in 2013 to critical and commercial success and acclaim, the Captive Prince trilogy was acquired by Penguin, and will be published worldwide in 2015.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!