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on 16 August 2017
Prince's Gambit definitely doesn't suffer from second book syndrome. The pace quickens, the world gets some depth added to it, the characters develop more. Everything that should happen within a sequel happens.

In this book we pick up pretty much where its predecessor leaves us. With Damen and Laurent travelling South in an attempt to stop war between Vere and Akielos. What follows is a masterful display of political power play that is both intriguing and suspenseful.

The development of the characters essentially comes from the slight change in dynamic within their relationship. Damen goes from just being Laurent's slave to becoming a respected and strategic member of Laurent's army. They make up for each others weaknesses. With Damen's strength, strategy and war-worn mind and Laurent's tactical, calculating and ever-thinking mind they become a good team.

C.S. Pacat subtly places elements of back story for Laurent in small moments. It gives you a better understanding of him and makes him more likable. It was interesting to see the progression in Damen. In the first book he was forcibly taken from his home and and placed in a country and society he isn't familiar with. Understandably, he wasn't at ease. Now however, he is heading towards his home and given some form of free-reign. It was nice to see him in his element, fighting and being a strategist.

There is so much tension and hate between the two main characters and yet they still have a deep connection. It feels like a masterclass in how to write the perfect slow burn.

In all, I am pleased and surprised with Pacat. She has created an enjoyable world but given twists and betrayals that I never saw coming. The reason this book is still within the 3's is because even though I do like and enjoy them I'm not madly in love with them. They're a nice easy read and I would recommend them if this type of book is something you're into but I'm not scrambling to turn the page and practically hanging off my seat. But, I still like them.
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on 28 July 2017
10/10
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on 6 July 2017
Oh my goodness brilliant can't wait to read the next book
Literally the best book I've read in a long long time
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on 18 February 2016
Of the three, this was by far my favorite. I very much enjoyed the way Laurent's mind worked and Damen's stolid dependability. The slow burn as the two came to trust each other was wonderful and the twisty-turny plot kept me guessing, as did a lot of the hints dropped for future reveals. Man, I feel sorry for those who read this 3 years ago and had to WAIT to get the last one.
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on 4 February 2013
This is hands down one of the best stories I've ever read. Rich with detail and complex characterisation, the only thing it really lacks is female characters. That's usually a deal breaker for me, but the men and the world is so compellingly drawn here that I just can't get enough. Bring on book 3!
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on 25 March 2017
Where book one was overloaded with detail and very little action (understandably so, the scene needs to be set, after all), this book has the perfect balance of detail and action. The authors world building skills are to be very much admired.
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on 23 June 2015
Can't believe I've never written a review for this!

I can't express how much love I have for this series, I have re-read them so many times I've lost count and any time I'm in a book slump or just generally need a pick-me-up I'll have another read.

Laurent and Damen are great characters, their romance is slow but not in a frustrating way, and you love the characters individually rather than just rooting for them to just get together and be done with things. This book is not like anything I have read in the gay fiction world, it's plot is complex, there are twists and turns that shock you all the way through, characterisation is brill and the worlds are brilliantly built. If you like fantasy novels in general then you need to give this a whirl.

Can't wait until the next one is out, there's no way it can be a disappointment!
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on 23 April 2016
The second book in this series is so much better than the first. Whereas Captive Prince read, at times, like a nano project, this has an altogether more polished feel about it. It also helps that it's not really an erotic novel anymore, but stuffed full of politics, intrigue and a great plot. Having said that, there is an incredibly sensual feel to this book (and some specific action which would spoil things).
The sad thing is that reading this, I really wish the first book had had another draft. There are a few inconsistencies that need addressing. Laurent is practically unrecognisable from the Joffreyesque character he was in book 1. I know he thawed towards the end of the book, but his actions in the first part of the book aren't at all in character with the man we see in book 2 - no one's volte-face is that quick. I liked this Laurent very much. I could see why he inspired loyalty and also fear, however he doesn't match up with the man that had Damen flayed to within a hair's breadth of his life, not even knowing what we know now at the end of the book.
I would have liked more hints about Damen in the first book and his character. This is odd because the books are from his POV, but there's one startling moment of clarity for him at the end of the book about how he's been wrong about a few things and you have to wonder why it never occurred to him before.
However, this is about the second book. Prince's Gambit is exciting and rich with description and action. The dialogue is good, the characters are distinct and it was a page turner. There's still a tendency to tell the reader what's happening rather than show (one example is when Laurent is said to have 'flayed' someone with his words, but we never read what he said) but it is streets ahead of the first book.
Confession time: I bought the first book. I've borrowed books 2 and 3 because at £9 each for the kindle editions, I really baulked at paying that amount of money with only the first book under my belt. Is it worth nearly £30 for the trilogy? Not sure, yet.
I wanted to leave this 4.5 stars. It's better than a mere 'I like it' because I did love it, but it's not quite there for the five stars because of the inconsistencies with book 1 and the occasional telling rather than showing. Great read, though.
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This is unusual in being a fantasy adventure without any magic or monsters - at least not in this book. I haven't read the first so a little time was needed for me to settle in, but mainly it's a medieval military adventure. As there are plenty of men riding and marching on campaign, to beat back border raiders, potential for camp followers and stronger men taking advantage of weaker ones emerge. One or two male romances are included but mainly there is simmering tension between a slave and the prince for whom he is a bodyservant and guard.

The prince learns that the Regent back at the palace would prefer to see him disgraced or dead, so he's got to be on his guard. For the men riding with him are loyal to the Regent. All but his slave who is from another country. I could not quite see a border garrison being allowed to fall into such disrepair and slovenly habits, because the strong border is vital to a kingdom - for taxing trade if nothing else. But maybe it's just overstated in order to build contrast and challenge, or we can accept that in a land where horseback is the fastest pace, the outskirt soldiers are shabbily paid compared to the capital city.

The divertissement around brothels and inns is just thrown in to liven up what the author may have felt was becoming a slow story, on the way to the serious border skirmishes. To my mind there were a lot of separate routes and bands of soldiers to follow, so I just accepted that the men knew what they were talking about and went along for the ride. I enjoyed the detail in the telling and the fact that strong women are inserted as leaders of the hill tribes; gay romances written by men tend to omit women almost completely or just throw in token roles, in many cases. This lady author clearly takes her world building and her two main characters seriously and I'll be interested to read more of her lands.
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on 23 June 2016
'Laurent was complicated and contradictory, and Damen could look nowhere else.'

Even more addicting.
Even more intrigue.
Even more mystery.
Even more secrets and betrayal.
Even more EVERYTHING.

The plot and the characters are so smartly developed and woven together here, it's mind blowing.

"I know exactly what it is to want to kill a man, and to wait."

This trilogy is a slow burn like no other. Slow burn aren't my favorite books to read because I want ALL the romance, I'm not even sure these can be classed as romance and yet I have never been addicted and so invested in a couple like I am with Laurent and Damen. There is so much hate and so much imperfections between the two but they are the most unforgettable characters I've ever read about. And there's still more to their story.
The sexual tension here is something else. I've never read anything like it. Those small moments. The looks with no words spoken. The near touches. The slight, small touches.
AND THENNNN!
Then, THAT first kiss and THAT first sex scene. That freaking sex scene. Everything. The emotions and each and every touch and word spoken. Holy f... Sh.... I am dead serious when I say no other sex scene will ever come close to that one. THE FEELS. Gah.

'He caught Laurent's wrist, felt the fine bones, and the pulse, before Laurent could rise from the bed. Damen said, "Kiss me."'

C.S. Pacat played with my emotions big time.
Trust absolutely No one.
She pulled me into this world, consumed me with her words, this story and the characters she created. Made me fall in love with many more than just the main characters. And she devastated me in many ways. She's created a villain I really didn't see coming. There was betrayal from places I did not expect at all.
She is a genius.
I ate up every single word, not wanting to miss a single thing.
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