Title ~ Prince’s Gambit (Volume Two of the Captive Prince Trilogy)
Author ~ C.S. Pacat
Publisher ~ Berkley (Penguin)
Genre ~ Dark M/M Erotic Romance, Slave Fantasy
The second volume in the Captive Prince trilogy.
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 . . .
WOW! Words fail me! It's my second time around with the first two volumes in the series and I'd forgotten just how utterly spellbinding this saga is. I've actually just finished the whole series as there was absolutely no way I could even contemplate not jumping straight into book three, after volume two's hair raising ending left me agog and desperately trying to put into words, without revealing too much of its plot, why Prince's Gambit left me reeling... again!
After my marathon read, I have to say this is still my favourite book of the trilogy. I loved volumes one and three (review to come) but I adored this middle instalment of the saga! The 'mood' and continuation of Laurent and Damen's dysfunctional enemy captor/captee relationship, turning a complete one eighty as the progression of their story moves them away from the confined connivances of the Royal court, into the much wider arena of political (and personal) manipulation, conspiracy and ultimately, physical combat.
Far more action/adventure now than its ‘slavefic’ based beginnings, Prince’s Gambit is still intensely littered with secrets, lies, duplicitous treachery and the sort of shock revelations that in this case left my jaw well and truly dropped! One in particular I truly wasn't expecting, that stunned me into tears!
All orchestrated and enticingly played out, alongside the even more palpable sexual tension that's been on the boil since deceit and betrayal threw them together. Putting the warring duo in the position of now having to forge an uneasy alliance in order to bring down the nasty ass, major players scheming to bring about their deaths. Laurent utilising...or should I say manipulating... his Akelion 'slave's' skills as an ex soldier to further his own plans, and Damen wary but playing along if it helps reach his goals.
Damen is the perfect hero. Handsome, proud, honourable and principled he gives me delicious tingles. But he's also surprisingly guileless at times when it comes to the insidious natures of the people around him. His judgement clouded because of the unwanted attraction he's feeling for Laurent despite his coldness and detached reactions toward Damen.
Young, beautiful and on the surface apparently more suited to the petty vagaries of court etquette, he's actually a genius forward thinker and tactician. Every decision and action, however unimportant it may seem, done for purpose and intent. Using other people's strengths and weaknesses to manipulate things for his own ends, he gradually begins to change the tide of thought amongst the rag tag troop of soldiers—who in reality have been picked specially by the heinous man intent on seeing their mission fail—from derision, dislike and disloyalty, into grudging admiration and finally when they've been rallied into shape... absolute fealty. Fearless but never stupid, he proves himself just as able at felling a man with a sword, as he is cutting them down with the rapier sharp lash of his tongue.
Throughout, Laurent had my emotions seesawing like mad, tearing my hair at his actions one minute, loving the fuck out of him the next! But still he's fast become a guilty pleasure and I've fallen head over the proverbial for Laurent of Vere..warts and all! He's an enigma, deep and unfathomable, but veiled secrets of his past hint at a vulnerability we only see fleetingly when he rarely lets his guard down around Damen.
Which brings me to the actual slow burn love story that simmered deliciously in this volume. When the long awaited love scene did finally happen, I thought it was heart rendingly beautiful and SO worth the belly churning build up that lead to the inevitable! A gorgeous, surprisingly loving, sexual encounter that changes their path and destiny yet again, with Damen’s secret still hanging unsaid between them!
Tremendous story telling, it kept me rapt from page one to the OMG! cliffy that had me opening up Kings Rising within seconds of shutting Prince's Gambit down. Now I have to try and get my head around reviewing Volume three, but I'll end this one the way I started and just say...
Captive Prince Trilogy
Volume Two : Prince’s Gambit
Volume Three : Kings Rising
Connect with C.S. Pacat
C. S. Pacat is the author of the Captive Prince trilogy, including Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit. Born in Australia and educated at the University of Melbourne, she has since lived in a number of different cities, including Tokyo and Perugia. She currently resides and works in Melbourne.