His Royal Secret (His Royal Secret #1) by Lilah Pace #BookReview
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
I really wanted to love this book, and it was an enjoyable read, but there were a few things that slowed me down in the first half. First, I know author Lilah Pace can write smoking hot sex because of her Asking For it series (the GraveTells 2015 Series of the Year). I’m not sure whether it was the stuffiness inherent in her depiction of the British monarchy or some more general lack of more, but the connection between Ben and James just feels surface level for a good portion of the book. Some of their moments, both sexual and relationship-building, had promise—all the bones of the writing were there—but they lacked spirit. I just didn’t feel it. Did I want them to be together? Sure, but the characterizations of the two men were quite disparate, making me feel like they really didn’t want the connection all that badly themselves.
As Prince Regent, I’m not only the head of state for the United Kingdom, I’m also the head of state for the Commonwealth of Nations. Some states in the Commonwealth would accept a gay man as their symbolic leader, but some of them definitely would not. Does Uganda opt out? What about Malta, Rwanda, Pakistan? Does the Commonwealth survive their departures? If not, what happens to the various trade agreements that currently exist within that framework? Does Great Brittain lose the influence it has in those states over questions of human rights?
This caught Ben up short. “I hadn’t considered that.”
As the story barreled on, I started to think maybe there’s a pattern here with this story and the Asking For It books. The first book in that series didn’t have a happy ending, and while its emotional arc is much stronger, it also felt a little off in the early stages. His Royal Secret doesn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger, but it’s definitely not the end of the story. Luckily, the conclusion book comes out soon, so the wait will be brief.
He found his shorts and padded into the kitchen, where James was swaddled in a plush robe of some sort and spooning some sort of beefy mush into the dogs’ bowls. The natural thing to say was Good morning; instead, Ben said, “You don’t have the butler do that?”
“Good heavens, no. If the butler fed the dogs, within a couple of months they’d be the butler’s dogs. They’re animals, not fools.” The corgis chomped away, oblivious.
Lilah Pace is quite the chameleon. Her Asking For It books are set in Austin, Texas and feel authentic for the culture and locale, yet her voice in His Royal Secret is also on point for the setting and culture. It’s exceptionally British, down to the smallest details and phrasings.
“Nobody else ever got to me like this. Nobody ever. And nobody’s going to get to me like this again. You got through my defenses when no one else could, or can, or will. You’re the only one I could ever have loved, the only man on this earth. I can’t change it now. It’s done. All I know is that if I walk away from you tonight, I’ll spend the rest of my life…broken in two. Needing you.”
I overall enjoyed this story—enough to stay up reading it till 2am on a work night—but I didn’t adore it. I wanted the emotional arc to be stronger. James is believable, and his open, honest spirit balances Ben’s more callous self-protective measures, but the relationship didn’t sizzle or pop. I’m looking forward to following the other side of this huge moment the story forecasts, and seeing how the intensity in the men’s relationship progresses.
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Snag your copy of His Royal Secret online at Amazon here!*
You can find the conclusion of this story, His Royal Favorite (available 8/16/16) on Amazon here.
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