Series Spotlight: Captive Prince, by C.S. Pacat


I always assumed that the Captive Prince trilogy was just one of those things that everyone knew about. It’s been around for years, first as a free online serial, and then published a few years ago. The fans of the series are devout, creating art and writing long theory posts and fan fiction.

But recently I’ve realized that a lot of people aren’t aware of this incredible series. With the third and final book finally coming out in a couple of days (after literally years of waiting!), I wanted to spotlight the series and tell you more about it.

This review will only cover the first two books of the series, and will contain no spoilers. My review of Book 3, Kings Rising, will post tomorrow evening (also no spoilers).

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Series Name: The Captive Prince Trilogy
Author: C.S. Pacat
Publisher: Berkley/NAL
Genres: Gay, Bisexual, M/M, Fantasy,
Mature/Erotic Content, War Story


1: Captive Prince
2: Prince’s Gambit
3: Kings Rising (out February 2, 2016)

What It’s About:

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful 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.

Okay, wait. I don’t like this summary much.

This story is about so many things that a simple blurb doesn’t cover them all. It’s a story about politics and manipulation and cunning and trust. When Damen is betrayed and sent to the rival nation of Vere as a pleasure slave, it’s a fate worse than death; to reveal his identity would lead to torture, but being a pleasure slave– submissive and at a master’s whim– goes against everything Damen knows. But his new owner, Prince Laurent of Vere, has his own enemies to fight against, and the two men soon find themselves unwilling allies.

War is looming, intrigue and mystery hides around every corner, and Laurent and Damen find themselves battling dangerous enemies on multiple fronts.


Why should you check it out?

C.S. Pacat writes what is without a doubt among the best prose I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. She has a way with words that provokes this deep emotional response, using language like a weapon that cuts deep in your soul. You care about the characters and their fates, and even secondary characters have a place of importance. And the story itself is gripping; adventure and action, brilliant turns and revelations that literally have you gasping out loud.

I personally dislike slave tropes, for the most part. But this is not slave fiction as you know it, and C.S. slowly builds up a relationship between Damen and Laurent that is more beautiful than any conventional romance you’ve ever read. I think many people would hesitate to call this a romance, but I don’t know of any better word to describe the relationship that forms between these two men.

Check out this interview with C.S. Pacat, which features some incredible fan art of the series!


An excerpt from Captive Prince:

Damen opened his mouth to reply, and found his words stopped by the startling touch of Laurent’s fingers against his lips, a thumb brushing his jawline. It was the sort of absent touch that any master at the table might give to a pet. But from the shocked reaction that rolled over the courtiers at the table, it was clear that Laurent did not do this sort of thing often. Or ever.

“My pet was feeling neglected,” Laurent apologised to Torveld.

“He’s the captive Kastor sent you to train?” said Torveld, curiously. “He’s—safe?”

“He looks combative, but he’s really very docile and adoring,” said Laurent, “like a puppy.”

“A puppy,” said Torveld.

To demonstrate, Laurent picked up a confection of crushed nuts and honey and held it out to Damen as he had at the ring, between thumb and forefinger.

“Sweetmeat?” said Laurent.

In the stretched-out moment that followed, Damen thought explicitly about killing him.

Damen leaned in. It was sickly sweet. He didn’t let his lips touch Laurent’s fingers. A great many people were looking at them. Laurent washed his fingers fastidiously in the gold washing bowl when he was done, and dried them on a little square cloth of silk.

— Captive Prince (print edition, Berkley Publishing Group, 2013), page 148


In conclusion…

This is an incredible trilogy. Everyone I know who has picked it up has ended up addicted to C.S. Pacat’s brilliant world, and fans have remained faithful even after years of waiting for the conclusion.

Also, I’ve never had a crush on a fictional character quite like the one I have on Laurent. *blushes*


Author’s Website
Official Map of the Captive Prince World

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Book Review: Love on the Jersey Shore, by Richard Natale


Love on the Jersey Shore, by Richard Natale
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Release Date: February 1, 2016

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buy Links: Publisher / Amazon

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natale-love-jersey-shoreSexual chemistry and the search for real love can be a combustible mixture.

When the hunky young Anthony Ragucci falls for his dream man, a handsome attorney named Hunter Reese, his happily ever after fantasies are threatened by the meddling of the dashing and haughty Robert Burke. His loyal cousin Frank quickly rushes to Anthony’s defense, only to find his efforts hampered by a growing attraction to the inscrutable Robert.

Ultimately, the two cousins discover that Love on the Jersey Shore is a sink or swim proposition. Watch out for the undertow!

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Book Review: Until September, by Chris Scully

scully-until-septemberUntil September, by Chris Scully
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 8, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy Link: Publisher

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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As a teenager, Archie Noblesse clawed his way out of the poverty, heartache, and abuse of the reservation and left his family behind. Desperate to shake the shadow of his past, he reinvents himself as Archer Noble, an outspoken blogger and controversial author who lives only for himself. But when his beloved sister dies, Archer is saddled with guardianship of his niece and nephew.

Elementary school teacher Ryan Eriksson is devastated when his best friend Marguerite is killed, leaving her two young children orphaned. Helping Archer with his new responsibilities eases his grief, but when Archer offers him custody of the children, Ryan’s left with an impossible choice: get the family he’s always wanted, or respect Margie’s wishes and convince Archer to give parenting—and his heritage—a chance.

To buy time, Ryan promises to stay for the summer, hoping that Archer will change his mind and fall for the kids. But Archer’s reluctant, and the growing attraction between him and Ryan complicates matters. Legal decisions must be made, and soon, before Ryan returns to school. But with hearts involved, more than just the children’s future is on the line.

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Advanced Book Review: Tied to Trouble, by Megan Erickson

My last review of 2015 is for one of my most anticipated books of 2016! Happy New Years Eve, all!

erickson-tied-to-troubleTied to Trouble, by Megan Erickson
Series: Gamers, Book 3 (Stand Alone)
Release Date: January 4, 2015

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy Links: / B&N

I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Chad Lake only showed up at his sister’s party for the free food, but when he spots an uptight nerd at the edge of the crowd, he can’t resist trying to ruffle the guy’s perfect bow tie and impeccable hair. The hottie’s ready for him, though, and in the end, it’s Chad who’s left wide-eyed, his ears still ringing with the filthy things Bow Tie whispered in his ear. No one gets the upper hand on Chad. Ever.

Owen Hawkins has heard all about the cocky Adonis from Chad’s sister—the same sister who holds Owen’s career advancement in her hands. He has every intention of steering clear of the other man…until Chad’s sexy taunts push him too far. There’s something intriguing about Chad, and even though Owen knows that getting tangled up with the infuriating man is trouble, he can’t seem to stay away…

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Advanced Book Review: Champagne Kisses, by Lynda Aicher

aicher-champagne-kissesChampagne Kisses, by Lynda Aicher
Release Date: December 14, 2015
Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 3 out of 5

Buy Link: Publisher

I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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The Christmas Eve wedding Evan Cleary pulled together in four weeks is crashing down around him and taking his fledgling event planning business with it. With an empty altar and over a hundred guests arriving soon, he turns to the resistant, gorgeous brother of the runaway groom for help.

When Richard Patterson’s flamboyant brother storms out hours before he’s scheduled to marry his equally dramatic partner, Richard is left dealing with the fallout. The last thing he wants is more drama, yet he can’t deny his attraction to the effeminate event planner trying to salvage the wedding.

Evan thinks his crush on Richard is a lost cause, but one steaming kiss later, he learns different. What starts as a night of hot sex turns into a connection neither expected. But Evan knows their relationship is hopeless unless the ultra-conservative Richard can embrace every part of him—both in private and in public.

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Book Review: Secrets and High Spirits, by Lou Harper

harper-secrets-and-high-spiritsSecrets and High Spirits, by Lou Harper
Series: Secrets, Book 4 (Stand-alone)
Release Date: October 27, 2015

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Buy Links: Publisher

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Their love is an explosive cocktail—stirred, shaken, and served with a twist.

I completely fell in love with this book! I’d read Lou’s short story “One Hex Too Many” in the Charmed & Dangerous anthology, but this book was definitely not what I expected! Enemies to lovers, a cast of delightful characters, and a mystery with a touch of paranormal… this book was a delicious cocktail of mystery and tension with a cherry-on-top romance!

Recipe for one Romance Cocktail:

2 men
1 bar
1 ghost
3 friends
a healthy dash of sexual tension

Shake (don’t stir) and serve hot. I mean hot. Best consumed in bed.


Teag and Bruce dream of opening their own bars, but that’s where the similarities end.

Teag, a popular bartender at West Hollywood’s hottest club, is willful, opinionated, and likes to take charge. He envisions his future bar as a boozy oasis for craft cocktails. Unfortunately, while he’s big on ideas, he’s short on funds.

Bruce, on the other hand, is a tower of pirate-tattooed muscle with a laid-back attitude. While he’s good with people, he’s a walking paradox—a wannabe boss with a weakness for bossy men.

Their partnership is a natural fit, but every time they meet, sparks fly as they rub each other the wrong way. Or is it the right way? In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to tell.

Between renovation pitfalls, meddling friends, and miles of police tape, Teag and Bruce struggle to keep their venture—and their budding relationship—from going up in flames. And not the good kind. More like the one on the top of a B52 shot.

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Mixed emotions, betrayal, and lots of snarky banter! — Book Review: “Stranded”, by Helenkay Dimon

dimon-strandedStranded, by HelenKay Dimon
Riptide Publishing (November 23, 2015)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Buy Link: Publisher

* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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There are a few stories that I will buy without hesitation. Assassin boyfriends trying to kill each other over misunderstandings? Totally one of those plots!

Cabe got out of the gun-for-hire business the hard way—by nearly dying. Except then his former boss calls in one last favor for one final job. The mission should be simple: get a message to a retired operative in Alaska. But it puts Cabe face-to-face with the one man he doesn’t want to see and can never forget. Not after all the secrets and lies. Not after Brax almost killed him.

Brax Hughes lived hard and retired young to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Well, that was the plan, but before he can hang up his sniper rifle, he has one last mission: win back Kyle Cabe. Brax wants another chance, wants to come clean, but after months of lying to Cabe, he knows he could face a bullet—or worse—when they meet again. And they will meet. Brax made sure of that.

With a storm moving in and someone lurking outside the cabin, time is running out. Brax needs to talk fast and keep his weapons ready. And his best weapon is the truth.

Brax and Cabe used to work together, and spent their off hours in bed together. For two hardened killers, the idea of having a weakness– someone they love– is terrifying. But Cabe fell in love with Brax, and then had his heart broken when Brax shot him point-blank in the chest.

“You don’t get to decide how I love you.”

I love the mixed emotions that HelenKay wrote with these characters. The betrayal that Cabe feels, and Brax’s desperation to explain… but also the fact that they’re two stubborn, tough men who are totally emotionally constipated! Brax thinks he’s doing the right thing, protecting the man he loves, but Cabe doesn’t want or need protection.

“You almost sound like you care.”

“You know I do.”

The snarky back-and-forth was also very well done. There wasn’t a very strong conflict, though, but I don’t feel like it was that kind of novel. Just two men trying to work through years of training and a series of misunderstandings to come back together.

“You’re telling me I should shoot you.” Cabe looked far too happy to oblige.

“I’d prefer a punch.”

“That’s not near enough.”

This is a short novel, but a fun read. And 20% of proceeds from sales of it are going to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center!

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Book Review: Tasting Notes, by Cate Ashwood (Rating: 3.5/5)

ashwood-tasting-notesTasting Notes, by Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 26, 2015)
Page Count: 200 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Buy Links: eBook / Paperback

* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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Joseph “West” Weston has paid for his wealth and success with long hours at the office and no personal life to speak of. Meetings, conference calls, and paperwork dominate his waking hours and have kept him from honoring the promise he made to his late grandfather years before.

After leaving the Marines, Robert “Rush” Coeman returns to his hometown and settles in as a Christmas tree farmer. His life is quiet and simple, and he likes it that way. When West arrives in town and buys Rush’s parents’ vineyard on a whim, that simple life is turned upside down. The animosity between them is palpable, but Rush shelves his preconceived notions in order to protect his parents’ legacy. He agrees to help West learn how to run the vineyard, and Rush soon realizes that love doesn’t necessarily come in the package he expected.


My Review:

This was a really sweet romance, and I really enjoyed the plot and the characters. West is successful, but his life is completely empty, and he realizes one day that he’s not happy. Stress and over-work finally force him to take a break, and he makes an impulse decision to drive to the Pacific and spread his grandfather’s ashes, as a way to honor the man who raised him. Except he gets distracted on the way by a charming small town, a beautiful winery, and a handsome man named Rush.

I can relate to West in a lot of ways… being over-worked, and desperate for a break, is something that a lot of people can understand. So it’s nice to live out the fantasy through West, who has more than enough money to just take off one day.

Rush was a bit harder to grasp. He has his reasons for acting the way he does, but those reasons aren’t explained until much later, so at first he comes off as extremely unlikable.

But OH MAN, the hatred and sexual tension between Rush and West was so good! Rush is clearly attracted to West, but at the same time can’t stand the kind of person he knows (or thinks) West is. And West is just baffled, but certain that he wants to prove Rush wrong and win over the former Marine.

Rush saw the punch coming, and he couldn’t say why he didn’t react. West’s fist collided with his cheek, throwing Rush backward with the force of it. Even in the blur of anger, Rush had to give the guy credit. He didn’t think he had it in him.

While the initial relationship between Rush and West was fantastic, I feel like the animosity between them resolved way too quickly. I really wanted to see a slower transition from hate to love; the tension from Rush’s hatred really drove the plot and made both characters fascinating, but as soon as it was resolved everything really slowed down and leveled out, making the story drag on until the next point of conflict appeared.

I also feel like the author was a bit too pleased with her research. There were a lot of little details that were thrown in (ie, the exact make and model of West’s car, the specific breed of Rush’s dog, the exact type of helicopter pilot Rush used to be, etc) that seemed like overkill. Details that didn’t factor into the story at all, and didn’t improve the narrative, but instead just seemed awkwardly placed.

On the whole, though, the story was really enjoyable! Rush and West are sweet together, and Rush was great about teaching West to relax and enjoy the little things, while West was eager to learn and thrilled with the new challenges before him.

Worth checking out, especially if you want a sweet romance between two complex characters.

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