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…
Way back in March 2013, I received a recommendation to read the first two parts of the m/m fantasy trilogy. At that time. C.S. Pacat had self published parts one and two. I read them both together, and was blown away. You can read my review here – I don’t think it’s too spoilery.
Since then, Berkley has picked up this trilogy, rereleasing Part One today in print, Part Two July 7 (digital version is already out), and finally, FINALLY Part 3 TBA (but please let it be sooooon. I can barely stand it).
Although I say this all in my review, Part One is dark. Damen is a slave. There is rape and some really hard scenes to read. But stick with it. The payoff in Part Two is fantastic. This IS a romance, and an amazing romance starts to develop between Laurent and Damen. (more in Part Two so hold tight!), with the best twist and turns. I was totally engrossed.
Read Parts One and Two together! Trust me. You will finish Part One and say – okay, that was pretty good. And then you will finish Part Two and demand Part Three! You must be tortured with the wait along with me.
One final note, Kaetrin has a great interview with C.S Pacat that gives us more insight into the series.
I asked Berkley if we could share an excerpt today and the author kindly sent one over.
He wasn’t sure what he expected. Perhaps a debauched tableau such as had greeted him in the ring. Perhaps pets sprawled out on every surface, naked and steam-drenched. Perhaps a scene in motion, bodies already moving, soft sounds or splashes in the water.
In fact the baths were empty, except for one person. As yet untouched by the steam, clothed from toe-tip to neck, and standing in the place where slaves were washed before they entered the soaking bath. When Damen saw who it was, he instinctively lifted a hand to his gold collar, unable to quite believe that he was unrestrained and that they were alone together.
Laurent reclined against the tiled wall, settling his shoulders flat against it. He regarded Damen with a familiar expression of golden-lashed dislike.
“So my slave is bashful in the arena. Don’t you fuck boys in Akielos?”
“I’m quite cultured. Before I rape anyone, I first check to see if their voice has broken,” said Damen.
“Did you fight at Marlas?”
Damen did not react to the smile, which was not authentic. The conversation was now on a knife edge. He said: “Yes.”
“How many did you kill?”
“I don’t know.”
Pleasantly, as one might inquire about the weather. Laurent said, “The barbarian won’t fuck boys. He prefers to wait a few years and then use a sword in place of his cock.”
Damen flushed. “It was battle. There was death on both sides.”
“Oh, yes. We killed a few of you too. I would like to have killed more, but my uncle is unaccountably clement with vermin. You’ve met him.”
Laurent resembled one of the etched figures of the intaglio, except that he was done in white and gold, not silver. Damen looked at him and thought: This is the place where you had me drugged.
“Have you waited six days to talk to me about your uncle?” Damen said.
Laurent rearranged himself against the wall into a position that looked even more indolently comfortable than the one before.
“My uncle has ridden to Chastillon. He hunts boar. He likes the chase. He likes the kill, too. It’s a day’s ride, after which he and his party will stay five nights at the old keep. His subjects know better than to bother him with missives from the palace. I have waited six days so that you and I could be alone.”
Those sweet blue eyes gazed at him. It was, when you shook off the sugared tone, a threat.
“Alone, with your men guarding the doors,” said Damen.
“Are you going to complain again that you’re not allowed to hit back?” said Laurent. The voice sweetened further. “Don’t worry, I won’t hit you unless I have a good reason.”
“Did I seem worried?” said Damen.
“You seemed a little agitated,” said Laurent, “in the ring. I liked it best when you were on your hands and knees. Cur. Do you think I will tolerate insolence? By all means, try my patience.”
Damen was silent; he could feel the steam now, curling heat against his skin. He could feel, too, the danger. He could hear himself. No soldier would talk this way to a prince. A slave would have been on his hands and knees the second he saw that Laurent was in the room.
“Shall I tell you the part you liked?” said Laurent.
“There was nothing I liked.”
“You’re lying. You liked knocking that man down, and you liked it when he didn’t get up. You’d like to hurt me, wouldn’t you? Is it very difficult to control yourself? Your little speech about fair play fooled me about as much as your show of obedience. You have worked out, with whatever native intelligence you possess, that it serves your interests to appear both civilized and dutiful. But the one thing you’re hot for is a fight.”
“Are you here to goad me into one?” said Damen, in a new voice that seemed to rise up from deep within him.
Laurent pushed off the wall.
“I don’t roll in the sty with swine,” said Laurent, coolly. “I’m here to bathe. Have I said something astonishing? Come here.”
It was a moment before Damen found he could obey. The instant he had entered the room, he had weighed the option of physically overpowering Laurent, and dismissed it. He would not make it out of the palace alive if he hurt or killed Vere’s Crown Prince. That decision had not come without some regret.
He came to stand two steps away. As well as dislike, he was surprised to find there was something assessing in Laurent’s expression, as well as something self-satisfied. He had expected bravado. Certainly there were guards outside the door, and at a sound from their Prince they would likely come bursting in bristling with swords, but there was no guarantee that Damen wouldn’t lose his temper and kill Laurent before that happened. Another man might. Another man might think that the inevitable retribution—some sort of public execution, ending with his head on a spike—was worth it for the pleasure of wringing Laurent’s neck.
“Strip,” said Laurent.