Book Review: Captive Prince

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Author: C.S. Pacat
ISBN: 978-0-14-379959-7
RRP: $19.99

Let me start by saying that Captive Prince is far from my usual genre and not a book I ever would have chosen for myself. I am not big on erotica at the best of times so male on male erotica is not something I would seek out.

The book arrived and was placed on the shelf for later consideration, then I received the publicist email and media release which is what piqued my interest. This is another trilogy that was first published online and attracted a lot of attention which lead to an international publishing deal.

Had I picked up the book on the strength of the blurb alone I would have been surprised by the story, to say the least. I would not have picked up on the erotic tones without the accompanying media release, but that could just be my own naivete, the signs are all there.

Captive Prince is the first volume of a fantasy trilogy set in an era of royalty. It’s all royal houses and countries at war, for me it seemed reminiscent of ancient Rome. Action, suspense and betrayal are dripping from these pages and Pacat’s writing style is certainly gripping. I thought I may be put off by the sexuality but the way Pacat has woven it into her story was superbly done.

Damen is a warrior and heir to the throne, until the day his father passes away and he finds himself captured, stripped of his identity, and gifted to the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Pacat’s world building is superb and she manages to cover all of the questions I wanted to ask about why the rightful heir to a throne wouldn’t be recognized in a neighbouring nation and why all of the same sex pairings.

Damen’s homeland is Akielos and there they choose their partners on their merits. In Vere they seem to be heterophobic and all of their pairings are same sex to avoid the possibility of illegitimate offspring. Weighed against the position Damen finds himself in thanks to his illegitimate brother one can almost understand the logic.

Damen finds himself deep in enemy territory as a pleasure slave, a very difficult position for a prince who is used to giving orders and not taking them. He has to quickly find a way to fill the role he finds himself in if he is to survive long enough to save his country.

captive prince

Captive Prince is very much a tale of politics and royal conspiracies as people make a bid for power; whether it’s the bid for a throne or someone’s wish to climb the ranks it seems that everyone is hungry for a little more power.

Pacat has written some deliciously complex characters and a multi layered narrative that definitely kept me guessing. In a predictable turn it is Damen’s new master that poses the biggest threat to him if ever he was to discover his true identity but there were many times throughout the book that I suspected he already knew the answer to that.

Prince Laurent seems to be an asexual being, by all accounts he is a very handsome prince and not many would begrudge him a place in their bed though no-one knows a single thing about his sexual history. He is gifted a pleasure slave in Damen but never takes him to bed.

I found there to be much less sexual content than I was expecting and for the most part it was not graphic and minutely detailed. I got the feeling it was always more about the power than anything else.

Court politics is a very tangled web and Prince Laurent is a manipulative character always trying to twist things to his best advantage, sometimes with better results than others. The further we delve into the story, the deeper our understanding of the characters and the bigger the divide between the two nations.

I have to admit I was surprisingly enthralled by Captive Prince and the evocative, decadent world that Pacat has created. I am not surprised that this became an Amazon bestseller in Gay and Lesbian Fiction within one week of self-publication and I can understand why there are online communities devoted to the series. I too am intrigued to discover what book two holds in store.

Powerful, intriguing and sinfully decadent the court at Vere does remind me of the ancient Romans pitting slaves against one another for the entertainment of the ruling class and their human pets.

A surprisingly enjoyable read that is sure to appeal to fantasy fans, it is beautifully written, unpredictable and at times confronting.

Captive Prince is Book #17 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.

Captive Prince is available now through Penguin Books and where good books are sold.

You can find C.S. Pacat at her Website and on Twitter.