Title: Prince of Silk and Thorns
Author: Cherry Dare
Publisher: Melusine Press
Characters: Garin, Alar
Sub-Genre: Fantasy, Historical, BDSM, Erotic Romance, Action/Adventure
Prince Alar is notorious… and tormented.
The prince’s decadence is as famous as his extraordinary beauty. Rumor holds that he murdered his own brother to get one step closer to the throne. Some believe him to be the son of a fallen angel. But beneath his icy exterior, the prince burns with secret guilt… and untapped passion.
Farm boy Garin is innocent… and reckless.
Garin is shocked when Prince Alar rides into his village and demands that the young men line up for his inspection… so he can select one to take back to the palace. To protect his brother, Garin volunteers, leaving his peaceful village– and his innocence– behind. But even taken and chained, he is no helpless victim.
At the palace, Garin discovers a new world of decadent sensuality, dangerous intrigue, and devastating passion. But from the moment the arrogant prince puts a collar around Garin’s throat and claims him as his own, the men are bound together in more ways than one.
From sadistic games of eroticism to tender caretaking, from erotic awakenings to a deadly gladiatorial match, their journey together pushes both men to their physical and emotional limits… and beyond.
A novel of the passion that consumes, the love that sustains, and the ties that bind.
This erotic romance is intended for mature readers. It contains scenes of gay sensuality and gay bondage and domination.
This was almost a DNF for me. There’s so much pain, suffering, violence, violations, and humiliation here that I barely got past the first chapter. In fact, it’s probably not a good thing when at the end of that chapter you feel one hero should grow a set and the other to die a gruesome death. On the day the main characters–prince Alar and farmboy Garin–meet, Garin is whipped twice, orally raped once, anally raped three times (once by fingers, twice times by cock), and humiliated and debased in front of hundreds of people. Oh, and did I mention in the morning he used to be a virgin? This, to me at least, does not read sexy or even erotic. The warning about mature content should definitely be heeded.
But… there is an actual story here–if you get past the first three chapters. There’s palace intrigue, of course, but the best parts of the book were when the two men were on the run, healing from wounds, and actually alone, forced to interact with one another. In those sections, the story shined and the characters deepened, becoming more than their initial impression (which I imagine a lot of people disliking). The journey through the land is one I enjoyed the most, when both men could stretch their legs, find allies, and also had to learn how to work together. The palace sections were the least interesting to me, same old, same old.
The first couple of chapters are so full of violence and rapes that it took me a moment to notice the plot had actually begun to form. By the time the hunt started, I was immersed into the story. I still did not care much for the characters, but I guess I learned to have a sort of fondness for them. The religious backdrop here has significance because as the son of a fallen angel, Alar has unusual appearance and special abilities. But do not worry, as these are small matters, and they do not make this a superhero story. In fact, if anything, his blood heritage makes Alar more vulnerable, not less.
The story is given to us from Garin’s first person point of view only, and that was definitely one of the major drawbacks of this story. Sure, I get wanting to keep a character mysterious. But since Alar presented himself as such a cruel individual, his point of view was sorely missed here. In order to like him, I needed to know how he saw the world, how he felt about Garin, and what motivated him–and I didn’t get those things until much too late in the story. Ms. Dare might wish to add another perspective in future stories, especially if the character needing it is so vile and horrid.
It seems the palace slave subgenre is not for me. Or at least this story wasn’t. I’m sure other readers will find this exciting (I did, at times) and even erotic (sorry, pass). Overall, there was just too much violence, sexual and otherwise, for me to enjoy this fully. The emotional scenes were great, and the writing shows the full spectrum of sensory experiences. Garin learns to find his strength and Alar learns to let someone in. So, in the end–if you can get past the dark BDSM etc.–this is an average fantasy story about a prince and his farmboy caught in a struggle for the throne. You be the judge.
Reviewed By: Susan