Author: C.S. Pacat
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Purchased by Reviewer
Blurb: 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…
Review: Laurent and Damen have left Arles. Things aren’t necessarily better for Damen, but they’re not worse. He and Laurent seem to be aware they need each other. Damen certainly didn’t expect he’d form a functional alliance with Laurent. He’s even beginning to get some respect from Laurent’s guard. So, the Regent has wanted his nephew, who he loves so dearly, to take some responsibility away from Arles. So it’s easier to kill him. The Regent sets Laurent up with a shoddy group of soldiers and a lousy commanding officer. Damen gives Laurent really good advice on how to handle it. Laurent doesn’t want to hear it, but accepts it is indeed good advice. Laurent and Damen begin to work together more and more and form a highly effective ruling unit. Everyone, including Damen, is still aware who is the master and who is the slave, but the slave is important. Laurent and Damen are proving Laurent is more than an idle prince who doesn’t know how to rule. Southern Vere is rapidly falling to Laurent and Damen’s control. Then they return to Marlas. Damen is assailed by regrets. It doesn’t help his sooper seekrit identity has been found out, and he just wants to get back to Akielos and get his own life started again. Laurent has his own plans for the evening.
All my complaints about the previous book are carried over to this one. I just am not impressed with the writing. However, Laurent and Damen’s burgeoning relationship is fantastic. The entire merchant class of a feudal society seems to be represented by one lone character? Who cares! Laurent is having some serious trouble dealing with the fact he’s falling in love with the guy he should hate. Multiple feudal societies with no religion? Who cares! Damen is plagued with guilt over wrecking the lives of countless individuals in his service to his father’s quest to gain more land. It’s all about the divided loyalties, and walking on eggshells, and Laurent and Damen hating themselves for loving each other. Daytime drama wishes it were this good.
Here, we witness Laurent learning to attack directly. This is important for him. Mark well and remember. Sometimes you have to fight the actual battle. Laurent really matures into an effective and beloved leader of men. My hypothesis about Laurent has only strengthened. At this point I’d call it a theory. His word choices, his startling innocence in some situations, and his ability to understand his Uncle’s victims have cemented my thoughts on his life after the Akielon victory at Marlas. Laurent has very good reasons to see Damianos as the great evil that ruined his life.
By the end of this book I no longer found the Regent to be a compelling baddie. He’s black as soot with no nuance. I know for a fact he will foil the good plans of Laurent and Damen. I felt this flattened any potential roller coaster like emotions I could have had from their battle against him. I’m not excited by the cycle of day and night ’cause I’m assured of its existence. I needed the Regent to either be fallible or have a passing shred of humanity and decency. That’s not going to stop me from reading though. I’m not even going to fake like I’m picking up anything other than Kings Rising as my next read.