My review: 3.5 stars
You know that moment when you try to eat something new. At first, you think, "Oh, hmm....not bad." You take a few more chews, and then you're like, "ur...not so good." But after you swallow, you just can't decide. Certainly, it wasn't great. But it wasn't bad. And yet, you can't quite get the taste or food out of your head. Maybe a second taste is required?
Captive Prince definitely has a strong following, and most of my GR friends certainly enjoy this series. I hope what I say won't subject me to the M/M equivalent of the firing squad, so I'll just get into the details of this review.
I wasn't very impressed with the first 60-70%. It was probably ranging a 3 star for me. I love Damen for several reasons: he cares for his people (ex: the slaves), has a sense of right and wrong, and also because he deserves sympathy for a betrayal that was certainly unexpected. Sure, he's killed in his occupation. It was war. But during a good portion of the book, I felt like the story was introducing the world of Vere through his brutality: beatings, floggings, attempted rape, etc. It was difficult for me to read, because I adore Damen so much (not because of the violence itself - that, I can handle). Another personal element I didn't like was how the tip of power was so one-sided in Damen's "relationship" with Laurent. I wasn't expecting a romance novel by any means, but I wouldn't even call what they had a true "understanding" (because let's face it: Laurent is just too complex in his mental processing to understand at this point). Even in the end, the relationship was more fragile than wet store-brand toilet paper. I am sure this will come more in development in the second volume, but its lack in this volume didn't earn me any favors.
As vivid and thorough a world-building we are granted, I can't really say I enjoyed Vere. Nothing in their culture impressed me. I felt kind of exhausted from it.
And my last gripe: Laurent. Having a mind that is suited for total mind-fucking, he is truly interesting. Definitely not your usual "cold" character, and he certainly doesn't warm up much by the end. To be honest, I don't really like Laurent. I'm sure he has reasons for his current emotions (I mean, having his father and brother murdered, certainly...), but despite all that, I can't personally
seem to connect with him. Maybe if the story alternated with his POV, I could get immersed into his character better. But at this point, I just look at him and shake my head in disapproval.
So the good:
The intricacies of political plotting and schemes were definitely complex and very well written. Coming from a person who prefers action/adventure over political drama, I can say this was the highlight of the book and done well. That, and the bit of action we get was the reason I enjoyed the later 30-40%. And of course, there is Damen (which I have explained above).
Overall, I find Captive Prince to be a well written novel with a gripping plot. I truly feel that all gripes I had with this book are due to personal preferences (being that I like romance, action/adventure, and characters I personally enjoy). Will I continue this series? Most definitely. I can see the potential that exist between Damen and Laurent. I can see myself liking Laurent in the future books if he changes in the ways that I hope
he will. And if there is more of a power balance between these two MCs, I will like it even more.
As a gesture of goodwill to my GR friends: