Friday, April 17, 2020

Caroline Gibson - Prince for Sale

Vell once was a powerful sorcerer and a prince of Otharn. By the side of his father, King Covl, and his beloved brother, Lonn, worlds fell at his feet. Now, he is a slave, cast out by his father, sold, used and abused. Being delivered to Earth may be his last hope for freedom.
David Thomen, scientist, inventor, defender of Earth, is living a lonely life with his inventions. Responsible for opening the gateway from Earth to Otharn, he must come to terms with his role as Vell’s newest owner, and face up to Otharn’s plans for Earth.
Forced into an intimate relationship against both their wills, can Vell and David break the bonds of magic joining them together? And when the time comes, will they want to?

Comment: As any other reader, there are certain tropes and plot devices that I tend to like more or that might be the reason why I would want to try a book. The idea of having a character dependent on the other while the one with the power/means doesn't treat the other badly or tries the best to help anyway is one of the reasons why I tend to like different class tropes or employer-employee for instance. 
I decided to go with this book, despite the slavery theme, because I was curious to see how the author would deal with the lack of equality between the characters and how that would change in order for the romance to be believable.

This story presents us with a universe where Earth has been invaded by an alien army wanting to conquer it but thankfully to the energy of crystals, which scientist David Thomen studied for years and learned to somewhat control, stops it from happening.
Apparently, prince Vell, the man attempting to invade Earth as under an evil influence and his planet's king (and father) managed to contain him. Because of this, the evil man's brother Lonn has started to spend time with David and they became friends which is why, after two years since this happened, Lonn brings an enslaved Vell to David's apartment so he can protect him while Lonn deals with problems n their planet.
David is baffled by what he is supposed to do, especially since Vell has a collar that forces him to do what his "master" wants and the technology recognizes David as such after Vell is in the apartment for a while. Will there be any hope these two can find a solution for the situation they are in? Can David help Vell knowing he tried to conquer Earth?

This is definitely a crazy story in a crazy universe where portals to other worlds exist by the use of crystals, were technology is more advanced and where aliens look human simply because they are in a different dimension/area of the universe? somehow.
It's crazy but very entertaining and it does read like a quirky adventure filled with magic and weird stuff that still feels interesting to read about.

I'm still thinking about all the hows this is possible or which kind of physics laws would need to be followed for this to be believable to our skeptic minds but that aside, it was fun to read the book. 
It set the tone for the plot and although it contains some things I wouldn't mind seeing different, it was still entertaining and I was eager to turn the pages.
The most interesting detail was, as I expected, how the relationship between David and Vell developed, even though Vell is at a clear disadvantage.

The dynamics between them, since Vell is enslaved and has suffered a lot because his past actions, aren't really balanced. David has all the power now and the way he can help Vell to not be in pain all the time feels unfair and hard to accept for him. This is why the romance worked: David isn't eager nor does he justify to himself he has to do it, he is reluctant to impose his will on Vell and that means by giving away the possibility of mentally forcing Vell and of manipulating him, even though he can't physically avoid the collar's mechanism, he is still allowing Vell some room to hope.

Of course, the author implemented some light BDSM tones in this, which I could certainly live without and that I think the story doesn't really need it (unless for those with kinky tastes), so part of their relationship follows these lines for a while.
Despite this, I liked how David tried to help Vell, tried to find a way to take the collar of him even if, at a later point in the story, that meant he had to accept Vell might not want to be with him anymore, at any level, whether as lovers or simply friends.

The story has some execution issues which I can't understand. It starts very abruptly, as if we had to already know all about the Earth invasion and who those aliens were. e never now how the planet's leaders and population feel about that, how dangerous they would see such a thing... I concluded the author only used the invasion a means to an end and all the other setting up she could have used to enrich the story was not important.
The characterization of the characters was a little under done, they went from point A to point B and we wouldn't have much on their personalities besides what was already known.
There wasn't much further development on the planets' awareness of one another thanks to the portal travel. The secondary characters weren't much more besides the basics for the main couple to move forward.

The writing is easy, fluid but doesn't punch such an emotional impact as I'd have liked to see. There are little inklings of the character's feelings here and there but only until it reaches a goal, I wish there was more depth to the character's actions and thoughts.
Some things regarding the sexual relationship also feel a little cringey and only didn't get fully unbearable because the author did try to insert technical explanations as for why it was so in a universe that was already crazy, otherwise this might be even less acceptable.

I'd say the book has many interesting things, no matter the base for the plot being, apparently marvel fanfic, and I had a good enough time being entertained but yes, there are certainly elements I'd change. I might read the sequel one day...
Grade: 6/10

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