Review: Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat

Title: Captive Prince + Prince's Gambit + Kings Rising
Author: C.S. Pacat 
Series: Captive Prince #1, #2, #3 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, M/M
Publication date: April 7, 2015 
Rating: ★★★★★ 

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…

Note: Review after reading all three books in a row with only a four-hour sleep break in between. Yes, that's how much I needed this story in my life. I have no regrets.

I feel like my heart is going to explode. Not kidding. I honestly feel like my heart is going to explode with love. Or with the impossible ache for more. I suppose this could go either way. This series has left me breathless and at loss for words. I need at least five more books of this world and these characters. Except what I really need is an epic love like this of my own.

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

I’m going to be real honest with you here. I didn’t have high expectations for this series. It had been recommended to me and it seemed like a guilty pleasure in the most literal sense of the word. Vulgar court life. Hot, sexy, dirty, fast, enjoyable and probably really superficial. Truth be told, I was expecting Game Of Thrones meets Fifty Shades Of Grey. The only reason I picked it up (contrary to embarrassing shades of whatever) was because Sarah J. Maas praised it in one of her newsletters and the high ratings my goodreads friends were giving it. I was such a fool.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this is probably one of the best and most compelling romance I have ever read. And I have read many. All of it set in a medieval world on the verge of war. Courtiers carefully dancing around each other and characters never revealing their true intentions. But in between all the backstabbing and endless theatrics, an honesty and vulnerability that I almost didn’t think possible and that I could barely grasp my mind around. Overwhelming. Breathtaking. Heartwarming.

“Describe the book you are currently reading in three words?” - goodreads.

Princes defying gravity.

Because that’s what it was.

When the king of Akielos dies unexpectedly, it is his bastard son Kastor who seizes power instead of the rightful heir to the throne Damianos. Damen, war hero to his people and completely taken aback by the sudden uprising, is captured and sent off to the neighboring kingdom Vere where he is to become a slave in the household of his life-long enemy. A bed slave for the beautiful, sharp-tongued, manipulative and lethal prince Laurent. The soon-to-be-king who hates everything even remotely related to Akielos. Damen is brought there stripped of his name and title, nothing more than an attractive and strong but completely untrained and defiant slave. There is no greater humiliation for a man who was once destined to become king. Except the Veretian court can never learn who he really is. Because if they do, his life is forfeit. Damen is a devil in disguise. He is the one who killed the prince of Vere’s brother.

We’ve all read this kind of romance. And yet to me this was different than anything else I encountered before. Love between two characters who absolutely loathe each other is often a bit tricky (and trust me they really, really did). But this - it felt so authentic to me. So real. The character development was slow and honest. Nothing rushed. Everything starts with small moments. A growing of respect and a careful companionship. Aargh, I’m not doing it credit at all. I told you I had no words to describe it. It was just.. whoa.

I cared about Laurent. So much. Probably a little more than Damen even though he is the one with the pure heart. It’s been this way since the very first book - I’m not sure what that says about me. Laurent was cruel and brutal. But I strongly admired his intellect and confidence, his brilliant mind, his composure and control, the way he outwitted people and stood up against his uncle. All I was constantly hoping was that we would get to see just a flash of what he was really feeling on the inside. Because there seemed so much more to him. So much he suppressed.

And the political game at play was thrilling. How sometimes I saw through it and knew what was at stake and sometimes it completely surprised me. A decadent court life, war, battles, sword play and camaraderie between fellow soldiers. Princes rising to be king and royal intrigue. Nah, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I told you I didn’t have the words to say what I felt. I just - I loved the writing. I loved the world building. I loved the main and side characters. I loved Laurent. I loved Damen. I loved that there were no grand love declarations but that you could feel everything there was between them in the way they acted. I loved the way they talked to each other, honest and straight-forward. I loved the intrigue. I loved that this was not fifty shades at all. That it was not abusive between the two of them.(Although there was a lot of abuse in the books.) I loved that the sex scenes were more suggestive and sensual than explicit. I loved that their focus was on romance and vulnerability instead of only physicality. I loved it, I loved it, I'M IN LOVE, OKAY?

A kingdom, or this?

This. Every time.

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