Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1) by C.S. Pacat
Publication: April 7th, 2015
Genre: M/M Fantasy
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. 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…
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C. S. Pacat has written a trilogy that became my fourth favorite books of all time along with The Cruel Prince. This book is dark and twisted filled with betrayal, court politics, vicious behavior, and disgusting behavior by others. Trigger warnings include violence, slavery, pedophilia, rape, and abuse. To some, these might have been romanticized and their opinion is 100% valid and you should take that into consideration before reading. In my personal opinion, it was not romanticized (the actions represent the sadistic and sometimes horrific nature of some of the characters), it was not overly sexual (there is one forced oral scene in book one, one consensual sex scene in book two, and two consensual sex scenes in book three), and the most graphic book in terms of the warnings is book one and it wasn’t a lot. But again please do your research before picking up the books. I feel the author handles the topics with care and doesn’t create sympathy for the people who condone or partake in the actions. In fact, many of them don’t face a happy fate. For example, the Regent (the man who takes very young ‘pets’) gets everything he deserves. You have to take into mind that this is set in a time period where these things were common in some places. It’s not right and a lot is very disgusting I.E. the Regent but it happened and still sadly happens today. But again, the author doesn’t make excuses about any of it.
Now into the plot. Prince Damen was betrayed by his step-brother Kastor and lover Jakoste when they kill his father, the king, and strip him of his title as prince/heir to the throne and ship him off to enemy territory to be a bed slave to the Prince of Vere named Laurent. Laurent HATES Damen because he is the man who killed his older brother, Auguste, many years earlier at a battle between Vere & Akielos. Laurent does not know who Damen really is when he is presented to him (or so we thought lol) and Damen knows in order to survive in the palace he must keep his identity hidden. Once in Vere, he knows he must escape. He faces many hardships by Laurent, the people of the Court, and the Regent (Laurent’s uncle who is meant to protect the throne until Laurent becomes King). He is disgusted by many Veretian court traditions. Laurent is a little snake and incredibly deceptive. Damen is completely down on his luck in this book let me tell you. But, this is an enemies to lovers romance so you would think things would start moving right? WRONG. These men almost kill each other a billion times and it is glorious. This is the slowest slow burn of all the slow burns that I ever did read slow burn. As the two fight tooth and nail, things begin to unfold in the court of Vere. Laurent is almost killed and it looks to be a setup. Damen and Laurent don’t realize how closely tied their fates and the fate of their countries survival really is. By the end master and slave are headed out to do some border control while the Regent and Kastor are working together.
The dark themes and sadistic nature of courtiers make for a very wickedly wonderful book. I could not put it down. All the plot twists and deceptive words/actions kept me on my toes. I never knew what would happen next and I was constantly on edge. Court politics are vindictive and it’s hard to watch Damen deal with them because he is from a country that relied more on being warriors than politicians. Which made the dynamics between him and Laurent a truly fun thing to read.
Damen is a bisexual warrior prince turned slave in an enemy country trying to stay alive long enough to escape and return to his country. He is described as tan skinned and a rather large man with plenty of muscles. He is one of if not the best swordsman in a battle. In his country, he is used to having bed slaves but throughout the book, we see his growing discomfort and acknowledgment that though he treated his slaves with kindness they are still slaves. I also love reading about his small and I mean small attraction to Laurent. He literally does not understand why he wants to protect him and it’s hilarious because duh you’re in love with him.
Laurent is a gay witty and strategical prince who is the master of Damen. He hates the Akelian slave with everything in him and he tries to kill him many times. But you can also see how intrigued he is by Damen. He does many terrible things to him but in later books, it really does become apparent on why. If the one person in your life that you loved was murdered you might not treat that person with grace. Laurent is described as a beautiful and stunning blonde with blond hair who is manipulative, spiteful, deadly, and cut down a huge man with just his words. Everyone wants him but no one is allowed to touch him. He has never had a lover that anyone can account for yet he saves Damen’s life multiple times. He also does not understand why he does this but lol duh he’s in love as well.
Everyone else adds to the story immensely. I loved Nicaise and it made me sad what he went through as the Regent’s pet. I also loved Jord who was a leader in Laurent’s guard. I HATED the Regent, Guion, and Govart.
I really love this author’s writing. It was simple and easy to read but also had depth and character to it. It was graphic in a harsh way that reflected the characters and their situation. Things weren’t graphic just to be graphic. The intense scenes were not too detailed so not to be grotesque and overly informational. We saw the book through Damen’s eyes so we felt his anger, shock, disgust, and emotional turmoil during every situation. Somethings were had but it was a harsh reality that the time period had. The romance obviously did not move beyond mere subtle curiosity and saving each other even when it did not make sense to. I loved this book so much and I think it was excellently handled.
“I don’t share your craven habit of hitting only those who cannot hit back, and I take no pleasure in hurting those weaker than myself.
“A golden prince was easy to love if you did not have to watch him picking wings off flies.”
“Damen’s understanding of Laurent rearranged itself, in order that he might despise him more accurately.”
The third time this happened Damen said, ‘Shall I make a face at the ones you don’t like, or is it enough to just look like a barbarian?”
‘Everyone knows the Prince does not keep pets.’
‘None at all?’ said Damen.
She said, ‘You.’ She looked him up and down. ‘Perhaps the Prince has a taste for men, not these painted Veretian boys who squeal if you pinch them.’ Her tone suggested that she approved of this on general principle.”
“Torveld favored Laurent with another of those long, admiring looks that were starting to come with grating frequency. Damen frowned. Laurent was a nest of scorpions in the body of one person. Torveld looked at him and saw a buttercup.”
“This place sickened him. Anywhere else, you simply killed your enemy with a sword. Or poisoned him, if you had the honourless instincts of an assassin. Here, it was layer upon layer of constructed double-dealing, dark, polished and unpleasant. He would have assumed tonight the product of Laurent’s own mind if Laurent were not so clearly the victim.”