I hated this book as much as I hated the other one. It was boring, clumsily put together and the message was contradictory.
It’s kind of weird that the author half-assed a little bit of, oh I’ve been a slave and now I think slavery is bad and will abolish it without remotely exploring the ramifications of that possible decision. it’s really clear that not being into slaves is Weird Behaviour and that the nobility rely on their deference. Not to mention that all the slaves are super white, just gorgeously pale, everyone has either lovely pearlescent pale skin or like, a weatherbeaten tan. Where are the people of colour in this story about slavery?
This series has plenty of background women wandering around fetching items and being tribes-people and showing off their bosoms, but there are but two named women and they’re bland (and barely get dialogue), certainly no agency.
There is some sex but it made me cringe as it looked like Stockholm syndrome sex. They are as hot and romantic as painting backyard fence. Or playing solitare.
The baby plot. Yeah. So cliche it’s not even funny. Is it Damon’s baby? Is it Kastor’s baby? Laurent giving himself up for it.
That sappy ending would have been totally fantastic if it had had a shred of credibility.
OK, now for the good bits. The cheesy quotes that made this book terrible to read:
‘You look like a wall tapestry.’ Nikandros plucked at Damen’s sleeve, amused by red velvet, fastenings of garnet, and small, exquisitely sewn rows of ruching.
‘We’re outnumbered,’ said Damen, ‘but if you run, you might still make it out.’ ‘If we’re outnumbered, what are you going to do?’ Damen drove his horse onward, ready to take up his own place on the front line. He said, ‘Fight.’
The constructed arrogance of the display was intentional. It said, exquisitely: Did you exert yourself at Charcy? I have been here examining my nails.
‘Slaves are trained in the arts of pleasure, but they do not lie with another until their First Night,’ Kolnas said. ‘Here we use the same strict, classical training that is used in the royal palace. Skills are learned through instruction, and practised with indirect methods. The slave remains wholly untouched, kept pure for the first use of the Exalted.’
‘Do it.’ Laurent was turning in his arms, presenting himself as he had on their first night together, offering his body from the curve in his back to the dip of his lowered head.
‘Do it. I want it. I want—’ Damen was unable to stop himself pressing his own weight forward, running his hand up Laurent’s back, and slowly rubbing himself, close to his object, in sweet, simulated fuck. Laurent arched his back, and Damen’s body ran out of breath.
‘We can’t, we don’t have—’
‘I don’t care,’ Laurent said. Laurent shuddered, and his body gave a jerk that was an unmistakable fuck backwards.
For a moment both their bodies were operating somewhat on instinct, pushing together. It wasn’t going to work. Physicality was an obstacle to desire, and he groaned into Laurent’s neck, slid his hands down over Laurent’s body.
In a burst of explicit fantasy, he wished Laurent were a pet, or a slave, wished him a body that was not going to require extensive, coaxing preparation before it could be penetrated. He felt like he was right on the edge of control, felt like he had been that way for days, months.
Damen felt the first flutter of Laurent’s breath against him. Laurent was going to do it. When you see a panther opening its jaws you don’t get your dick out . Damen didn’t move, didn’t breathe. Laurent had a hand on him, and all Damen could do was stand, palms and back flat against the wall behind him. The idea of the frigid Prince of Vere sucking his cock was impossible. Laurent put his own palm to the wall.