Review : Prince’s Gambit (C.S. Pacat)

Title : Prince’s Gambit
Author : C.S. Pacat
Published : July 7th, 2015
Series : Captive Prince, #2

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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…

Rating :

4stars

It upped the ante and paved a beautiful road for the last book

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• my thoughts •

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“‘What makes you think Kastor is the weaker man ? You don’t know him.’ ‘But I’m coming to know you’, said Laurent.”

Second books are difficult. The first book is always packed with good stuff, it’s meant to grab your attention with the world-building, the characters and their interactions, the story itself. The last (usually, the third) book is all about crossing all the T’s, rounding the story to its planned end. Which means that second book often rhymes with filler book, there to drag things on, it’s the bridge between the beginning and the end of a story.

Prince’s Gambit defies this rule.

The characters are on the move, and the so is the story. Compared to the first book, there is actually more going on (maybe a bit too much at times, but I’m waiting for the last book to see how everything comes to an end), the political intrigue picks up some pace and you feel the pieces slowly taking their places on the chess board.

Once again, the pace is beautiful, but I still wish the author would stop pulling twists on me. I get what they can bring to the story but, and I’m sure it’s super annoying for Damen too, the constant mind gymnastics, the back and forth, with plot points always rearranging themselves sometimes had me a bit lost. It’s probably the only critic I could give to this book, the rest is just amazing from start to finish.

The big, pleasant surprise of this book was Laurent’s sort-of character development. We got a few glimpses in the first book, but I think he’s blossomed by being away from the palace and his uncle, as if the corruption that lies there washed away once he headed South. His mind was lighter, he was less sharp-edged, his vulnerability showed more than before and, at the same time, he shows that he can be a true leader. Not just because of his looks, not just because he’s Auguste’s brother, but because he’s smart and strong and brave enough to take on the role. It’s almost like a coming-of-age story for him.

Then again, it all comes down to his relationship with Damen. It’s because Damen earns his trust that we get to see a Laurent no one else sees. The slow-burn between Damen and Laurent is still excruciatingly exquisite. They finally see each other as equals, which gives us so many possibilities.

From enemies to allies ; from allies to friends ; from friends to that strange in-between filled with unsaid things, I’m expecting Kings Rising to take the final step it’ll take to complete this story line. With a title like that, it has to be mainly positive, right ?

(On a side note : I actually can’t believe that Damen still hasn’t figured out what really happened between Laurent and the Regent, like, seriously, it’s just right there, how can you not see ?!)

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