Gold floor, gold walls, gold clothes, gold flowers…. everything is gold.
Including Auren. As King Midas’ gold-touched, favored saddle, Auren is constantly being paraded around the castle and shown off to dignitaries. Nobles come to gawk at her behind the golden bars of the cage she lives in. Most days, Auren doesn’t mind the captivity; it keeps her safe from the greedy fingers and hungry eyes. The kingdom is enjoying its peace, why shouldn’t she?
But suddenly, war presents itself on Highbell castle’s doorstep. Peace is yanked out from under Auren’s feet, and she’s thrown in the middle of a deal that will destroy the trust and security she’s built up in her king.
“A cage is still a cage, no matter how gilded.” True, but the monsters outside might be worse than captivity itself.
I’ve waited too long to review this book. I read it months ago, I feel like. Not really that long, but I’ve read and reviewed several books since then. This book is wildly popular. BookTok had a fit over it; Amazon had a frenzy around it. Heck, it was an Kindle Unlimited STAR last month. People LOVE this book.
So, I was hesitant. It’s been a while since I read those “popular” books. I steer clear of them because I know I often set my expectations waaaay too high, and then I’m let down by mediocre writing or flat plot. I prefer to spend my time and energy reading mostly indie authors, the ones that don’t get the attention they deserve. That way I expect a little and am blown out of the water.
But a while back, a friend of mine sent me this book. A simple link with the words, I HAVE A BOOK FOR YOU. No kidding — it was in all caps. I mean, this was back when the book only had 5 reviews. My sweet Kai is an OG Kennedy fan, lol. I put the book on my list and didn’t really think about it for a while. Then I saw it EVERYWHERE. I knew I couldn’t put it off forever.
So here we are! Reviewing a mainstream indie book, lol. Let’s dive in.
First of all, I have nothing but praises to sing of Kennedy’s style. It’s a precarious but well-done balance between well-spun descriptions and tidbits of humor. I’ve been told this is one of her darker series; the others are more humorous, so I’d like to one day check those out. (Kai says I should do Cupidity next. Thoughts?) It’s not a necessarily hard read, if you can stomach the content at times. It is an adult read, meaning there are of course spicy scenes. The entire book revolves around one of Midas’s saddles. Saddles are women who exist strictly for the purpose of “pleasing” men. This book isn’t super spicy, but the scenes that are there are definitely well-done. I did blush a time or two!
Yet, it’s really the plot that shines through for Kennedy. The way the storyline really unravels itself in ways you don’t expect blows my mind. I’m getting goosebumps as I type this, LOL. There are certain events that happen in the story that you don’t expect but completely make sense. The set-up is there (and my Lord, so well done) but it’s not so blatantly outlined that you feel like you already knew. Parts of Auren’s identity, events created by other main characters…. Ugh. It’s just *chef’s kiss*!
Now this might just be me, and I might be a huge nerd for it, but I really enjoyed bringing what I know of psychology into this read. Auren is the prime example of someone who is trauma-bonded, and I WON’T GO ANY DEEPER. I mean, she’s a prisoner for goodness sake and admits on more than one occasion that she enjoys her cage. Without spoiling the whole book for you, there’s some serious well-handled issues here! It had me wanting to knock the crap out of King Midas and every other filthy noble in the Sixth Kingdom. Infuriates me.
Lastly, I do want to touch on the characters themselves. I’ll stick to two mains and three sides, although honestly, I could go on for years. Auren is obviously one of my favorites, although she makes me want to throw stuff sometimes. She’s frustratingly blind to the situation she’s in, which is understandable but still! From the beginning of the novel until the very last page, we get to see her really blossom, and I can tell she isn’t done growing yet. There’s going to be an explosion in her character and I cannot WAIT for it. Then, you’ve got this little snot King Midas. I can’t/won’t say much for fear of spoiling. But I haven’t hated someone this much since I stomped on Savauge from The Mercy Series (you can read my reviews for those here). If it was me, King Midas, and a murderer on an island, and I had one gun loaded with two bullets, I wouldn’t even kill both. No, I’d shoot Midas twice. This man absolutely enrages me. Full stop.
I said I’d talk about side characters and then I got distracted by my own rage, lol. Three favorite: Digby, Sail, and Rissa. Let’s do one sentence for each! Digby– this precious, stoic guard that over and over again puts Auren ABOVE ALL and continuously shows his talents. Adored him. Sail– OMG PRECIOUS LITTLE BABY BOY. *clears throat* Yes, um, I love this man like he’s my own son. This entire part of the story tore me apart. Violent sobbing. Now, Rissa– I…. have mixed feelings for Midas’ second-favorite saddle. She’s bad, then she’s good, and now that I’m reading the sequel… I just don’t know. I’ll let you know how this develops for me.
Now that I’m done stroking Raven Kennedy’s ego, I’ll just… see myself out? Honestly, I have NO complaints. *gasp* So rare of me!
“You can have all the gold in the world and yet lack everything of real worth.”
“I wish I could string up the sun and keep it tied in the sky, but wishes are for stars, and I hardly get to see any of those anyway.”
“But memory and time aren’t friends. They reject each other, they hurry in opposite directions, pulling the binding taut between them, threatening to snap.”
Overall Rating: 5/5
Pacing: Just perfect, lol. Moderate.
Intended Audience: A, definitely 18+Content
Warnings: Rape, mature language, graphic violence.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Gild-Plated-Prisoner-Book-1-ebook/dp/B08HJDG47W/