Rating: 3.75 stars
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His Prize Possession is a collection of tales of bondage and capture-fantasy. There’s a little something for everyone here—a Roman soldier captured by barbarians, a mortal so beautiful he attracts the attention of the Gods, a thief caught red-handed by the sultan, a narrow escape from a monster on the high seas, and a slave willing to pay any cost for his chance at freedom.
As a collection, I thought this was a pretty enjoyable read. With such short stories you go in knowing that you’re not going to get much in terms of complicated plots or character development, so it’s all about the capture fantasy and this anthology delivered on that front. It hit most of the popular tropes in the genre and while there wasn’t anything ground-breaking here in terms of wildly new ideas or fresh takes on popular concepts, there were a couple of really enjoyable quick reads here.
A few of these really worked for me, and a few really didn’t, so I’ve included a little mini-review of each story.
Captured by The Sultan by Cherry Dare: 4.0 stars
Navid is a thief known as “quick-fingers,” stealing from market stalls and nobleman alike, but the one person he’s never stolen from for fear of his ruthlessness is the sultan, Rustam. Navid’s pride won’t let him hold to that policy when he overhears the sultan talking in the marketplace how “quick-fingers” is nothing but a common thief with little skill, and Navid plots to steal the sultan’s Ruby of Rabia. When Navid is caught in the act he makes a desperate bid to save his life and offers the sultan the only thing he can—his body to use as he pleases.
This one was cute. There wasn’t anything really earth-shattering here. Navid, our POV character was likable but a little bland, as was Rustam. There was enough witty by-play between the two of them to make me finish this one with a smile though. While the premise was a little on the clichéd side, it was in that well-worn, comfortable way of a favorite trope and not in a redundant way, and the way it all wrapped up made it feel somewhat fresh. The sex was hot but not scorching and the writing was pretty tight overall other than a few sketchy places. On the whole, a cute, steamy, enjoyable little read.
Caught by Scylla by Isabel Dare: 4.0 stars
Arrogant and stubborn, prince Ariston makes the crew of his father’s ship sail into the Straight of Messina, despite tales of a harrowing whirlpool on one side and a tentacled sea-monster named Scylla on the other. Too far into the Straight to turn back, the ship encounters the monster and Ariston’s crew decides to give the pretty prince to the monster as a sacrifice.
This story features relatively well-written tentacle sex. It doesn’t offer much more than that and I feel like anything else I could say in my review wouldn’t be any more informative than that, so there you have it. If that’s your thing, enjoy, if not, give this one a pass.
Bound for Pleasure by Calandra Hunter: 4.5 stars
Roman solider Titus loses spectacularly when he leads his troops into battle with a group of barbarian warriors. Instead of dying in battle, he is knocked unconscious and wakes bound and captive in the barbarians’ camp. When questioned by the war chief, Brinno, Titus makes a desperate offer to trade his body for his freedom, but it’s an offer he’s not sure he can fulfill.
By far my favorite out of the group, this one is smoking hot. Both Titus and Brinno feel like pretty well-rounded characters for a short story and their teasing interaction was almost as hot as the physical intimacy between them. The ending was open ended, as most short story endings are, and while I won’t go as far as to say it was disappointing, I will say I wanted something a little more to wrap up such a delightful little story, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the other merits. This is definitely one to bookmark.
He Whom the Gods Love by Lyla Luray: 3.0 stars
Seeking to help his brother Hades with his uncontrollable lust when Hades’ wife Persephone returns to her mother’s side, Poseidon enlists the help of his nephew, Eros. Eros tells Poseidon of a mortal who has just come into his maturity but has been holding on to his innocence. Poseidon thinks that sounds like the perfect temptation for Hades and arranges a meeting between the two with a little help and influence from Eros.
This one just really didn’t do much for me. There were a lot of rapid shifts in POV which isn’t my thing under normal circumstances, but was really off-putting in such a short story. I also didn’t really like either of the main characters and I knew there was no hope of a HEA for them, and probably not even a HFN either, so there just really wasn’t a whole lot here for me. If you’re really into virgin characters, you might like it, but otherwise I’d give it a pass.
The Emperor’s New Pet by Dawn South: 3.5 stars
Cornelius’ father fought bravely in the war. The only problem is he fought on the losing side. At the war’s end his sister is given to a nobleman in marriage, his mother commits suicide, and poor Cornelius is given to the Emperor as a slave. After growing up a free man, life as a slave doesn’t suit Cornelius and he makes a desperate plea to the Emperor for his freedom. The Emperor makes Cornelius a deal: he can earn his freedom—but only at the price of his body.
This is another one that just really didn’t work in my opinion. I think it’s mostly because I feel like there was a lot of backstory we needed to be able to really enjoy this. The way the story is outlined, you think that Cornelius is going to end up serving the Emperor directly, but most of the contact is with other slaves and they have very distinct personalities but without the backstory to accompany that, it just feels hollow. I don’t know, I think this one really just fell flat mostly because there was too much going on here for a short story. I felt like this premise could have been extended to a full-length novel and worked. It was really just sort of ho-hum for me.
So there you go. If you’re looking for some short, fast-paced steamy goodness and you enjoy capture-fantasy, then this one’s worth checking out, but don’t go into it expecting much more than that.