Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

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 . . .

From my personal collection.

This series was recommended by a friend who had heard good things about it before she read it so I picked up the set while shopping at Barnes & Noble one day.  I was actually rather surprised to find it in the romance section rather than the fantasy section where I'd initially looked for it.  Frankly, unless there is a giant 180 degree change in character personality in the next two books I genuinely have no idea how this could possibly ever become a romance.  Angry sex, sure, but romance, not so much.

The writing in the first couple chapters was slightly below expectations.  It was okay, but just that.  It wasn't bad enough to stop reading (think dollar store chocolate) but it certainly didn't draw you in and keep you wanting to read more (think Godiva truffle).  I'm not entirely sure if the writing actually improved over the course of the book or if I just stopped caring but by the end it didn't seem as much of a train wreck.  If the series hadn't been recommended to me I probably would have just shrugged, called it a loss, and abandoned it midway through the first chapter.

The author also clearly read Anne Rice's Beauty trilogy (quartet now, I suppose) and the similarities were beyond minimal.  Pleasure slaves - check.  Gold body paint - check.  Decorating the slaves with jewels - check.  Grooming and pampering of slaves with perfumed oils - check.

The sex scenes (all two of them) were rather yawn worthy.  Thankfully there were no "throbbing manhoods" but the vagueness of the wording left me wondering at points.  I actually had to remind myself in one scene that yes, the character was indeed receiving a blowjob.

The lack of descriptive detail was not restricted to the scenes with sexual content.  There was an instance where the author noted that "a ceramic" was broken.  She never did say what the ceramic was.  Was it a ceramic vase?  A ceramic dog?  A giant ceramic wall hanging ouroboros?  We'll never know because she never told us.  I actually found this inordinately distracting and zoned out wondering just what it could have been that was broken instead of focusing on the (supposedly) climactic scene.  Later, there was a scene where the author had a servant running under the belly of a horse which left me wondering for an unnecessarily long time just how big the horse was and how small the servant was and completely zoning out on the rest of the scene.

What concerned me the most, however, was the pedophilia that the author felt acceptable to include.  This wasn't just slightly underage seventeen year old with an eighteen year old, it was middle aged men with thirteen and fourteen year old boys.  It was like "Dude, really?  That's just not cool."  Thankfully that was not an issue with the main characters who were both of age but the mere inclusion was a bit unnecessary and distasteful.

Overall, this was a decent read.  Was it something I'd force on all my friends?  No.  But it didn't deserve Fahrenheit 451 treatment either.  I actually closed the book and felt completely neutral about it.  Do I want to read the second book?  Sure.  Did I feel the need to start it moments after I finished the first?  No.  Really, the best I can say about it is that it was good.  It was definitely a solid three and while I wouldn't say that I particularly recommend it I don't recommend against it either.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It


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