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The Duke's Handmaid (Ascendancy Trilogy Book 1) by [Caprice Hokstad]
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The Duke's Handmaid (Ascendancy Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Length: 338 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


Something for everyone! If you like adventure and intrigue and danger, this is the book for you. Ms. Hokstad must be commended for the detailed and rich world she has created.
~ Frank Creed, award-winning author of FLASHPOINT and WAR OF ATTRITION

A most unique story of loyalty provides a stark contrast against the harsh realities of a slave society. Kee's inspiring story shows how even the lowly can use the negatives that life throws at us to create a positive difference in the people we encounter. Prepare to wince, cry, and laugh.

Hokstad captures the very heart of innocence. Her compelling skill to elicit emotion and sentiment from the reader is all too rare in today's fiction. Well done, Ms. Hokstad!
~ William A. Kooiker, author of TOWER OF RUIN

Caprice Hokstad has the ability to draw you into a story and make you care about characters living in a very different world than your own.
~ Terri Main, author of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

The author...pulls one through at a rapid clip. The action is nonstop. We rated this book five hearts.
~ Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews

An epic tale of good versus evil that refuses to conform to anyone's previously described genres.
Brilliant...fabulous...amazing! You will be thoroughly delighted.
~ David Brollier, author of THE THIRD COVENANT

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

It was Keedrina's first time in a tavern. The curiosity of it all distracted her from her grim purpose. Lamplight danced over the limestone walls, mingled with suns' light streaming through the windows. The air smelled of fireplace soot and lamp oil. The memory of smoke caused her stomach to lurch. Most of the numerous oaken tables were vacant, though she guessed this was due to the hour of the day. A few patrons held quiet discussions over pewter tankards and trenchers of stew.

The healer took her hand and pulled her toward a far corner. Keedrina took one look at the alcove and lost all nerve. The very sight of the impressive nobleman seated in a throne caused her to gasp. She tried to wriggle from the healer's grip, but he held all the tighter.

An Elva woman knelt beside the throne. She was banded like moxi, but her bands were all brightly polished silver and had no little connection rings emerging from them. The slave was so incredibly still and so flawlessly beautiful, she appeared at first a statue. Watching the handsome young Elva slipping his fingers through her hair sent a warm shiver over Keedrina.

The healer spoke first. "I am Pharn Patkus, your highness, a healer of Ny. Might I have a moment?" The healer bowed his head and bent at the waist.

The man in the throne stood, towering a full eight feet. Keedrina gulped at his sheer presence. She had not expected a nineteen-year-old, even an Elva, to be that tall. She studied his fancy clothes, sleek black hair, piercing black eyes, the quiet strength of his willowy carriage. It was no wonder every female in Ny envied the duchess.

He extended his hand and the two men grasped each other's wrists and shook. "Well met, Lord Patkus. I am Vahn Rebono and this is timna, my optimess."

Keedrina stared in awe, willing her jaw shut. His voice was deep-pitched and commanding, yet at the same time soothing and lyrical. She watched as he swept his arm to indicate the silver-banded woman at his side, the one named timna. He had given the slave a title, yet not even mentioned his own. It then dawned on her that this was the first she had heard the healer's name--Pharn Patkus. Keedrina tried to etch all the names to memory as they were mentioned.

Lord Patkus spoke again, tugging Keedrina forward then releasing her in front of him. "And this is Keedrina of the rural area to the south of Ny, your highness. Her family lived next to a plot of land I own."

Keedrina was suddenly unsure how to act in the presence of royalty. She started to curtsy, then thought better of it, dropped to one knee and bowed her head. Patkus took her by the arm but the duke waved his hand at him. She remained motionless except for the trembling she couldn't control. What in Byntar ever possessed her to appear before the second highest ruler of the kingdom?

Product Details

  • File Size: 1161 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0986451738
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Splashdown Books; 2nd edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 29, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00102936Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,422 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Bihner on August 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to agree with another reviewer that this was bottom line disturbing. I just couldn't believe the premise of this book, a young girl, who has grown up free, believes slavery is her only option? So she throws herself into it and becomes the perfect slave? Obeys every command to the point they torture her to figure out when she will break?

She goes to a Duke who believes he is a great master but he routinely invites the maids to sit on his lap? I guess he was good because he didn't beat them but he sure took his time torturing anyone who wronged him. So much torture and oppression I just couldn't handle it. And of course in the end he ends up loving her? Unbelievable.

Honestly the writing wasn't bad, that is what made me not stop reading but the world they live in is just sad and depressing. I guess maybe by the end of the books it will be a equal world but I'm not going to find out because this was enough. I read a ton of fantasy but this was too over the top.
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I found this book to be very very disturbing and distasteful, the lead character wanted to subject herself to slavery, because it would get her closer to the man that she found attractive. She throws herself at his feet, licks his boots and thanks him for subjecting her to this degrading and dehumanizing behavior. The Duke is smug and vain and selfish, surrounding himself with beautiful young women, and then has no idea why his wife was unhappy about his behavior. He then turns around and giving his slaves to his cousin for his own selfish reasons with no concern for their health or welfare. And yet we are to believe that the Duke is truly a good person. There was not one redeeming factor in this book, no growth, no lessens learned and now great love that can transcend race and class prejudice, in the end even though the Duke has a chance to rise above his class bigotry, he once again sinks so low as to bind Kee into permanent slavery . Giving yourself into slavery, being beaten, burned, and starved and then asked for more; what is wrong with this picture? If this is a love story it is a twisted unhealthy type of love.
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The Duke's Handmaid by Caprice Hokstad is a romance in a fantasy setting, with a bit of a fetish twist.

Keedrina is a Itzi peasant, considered dull and stupid by the ruling class of Elva. But she's smart and has learned to read and stuff. When her mother and sisters are brutally murdered, the Duke takes her into his house until she recovers and decides how to make a living. Keedrina opts to sell herself into slavery to the Duke, who treats slaves kindly. Over the course of the story, Keedrina's love and loyalty to the Duke help her uncover a traitorous plot to kill the Duke and the King.

The fantasy setting is good, but not overly done. There is magic, but only mages do it. There are two suns, two moons, and two races. The rest of the details are like Middle Ages Europe, and satisfyingly consistent.

But there is a weirdness to this story. Keedrina's worship of the Duke Vahn pretty much starts when she sees him stroking another slave's hair. She wants him to stroke her hair. So she falls at his feet and worships him. Constantly. She's perfectly submissive 100% of the time. She takes the heat for other slaves' mistakes and never makes any of her own. Her loyalty never wavers.

Kee's obsession with the Duke, and the Duke's enjoyment at owning her, borders on creepy fetish territory. He never takes advantage of her, but the emotional stuff going on is just ... weird. He loves her, she loves him, yeah, I get it. But this combined with the perfect submissive slavery stuff ...

Uh ... yeah, okay. It was a good story, otherwise. But I lost sympathy with Kee about halfway along. She was like a robot because her actions were so predictable.
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I would not go as far as to say that the story differs from the conventional Christian reads, because it does not. The themes are all the same, I would agree with an earlier reviewer who said its a parable.

I found it odd at some points differentiating the good guys (Christians) from the bad guys (non-believers). For example, the duke sitting in his chair surrounded by all of his lovely slaves who want to rub their hands all over him and faces all across his shoes reminded me of Satan sitting on his throne being adored by his feminine minions. There were sooooo many instances where I felt like this.

I found myself being creeped out and a little annoyed by the duke quite often. One particular instance just struck me as odd...from the beginning, the duke knew the pros and cons of his esteemed position and was always suspicious of attacks against his life. So why would he then rid his household of ALL his trusted servants? Where did that suspicion go? I also found the development of the relationship between the duke and his slave unbelievable, there was not enough development there and the way she made it happened seemed too easy. It was affected and didn't come across well.

I couldn't really identify with the heroine, even on the Christian level and found her quite pathetic.

All in all, its not a bad read and the author is a solid writer but its definitely not my cup of tea.
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