Thursday, July 14, 2016

[ARC Review]: "His Royal Secret"

His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace
Publisher: InterMix (July 19, 2016)
Series: His Royal Secret, 1
Genre: M/M Romance

The first in an enchanting new male/male romantic duology from Lilah Pace, author of Asking for More and Begging for It ....

James, the handsome, cosmopolitan Prince of Wales, is used to being in the public eye. But he's keeping a king-sized secret...James, next in line for the throne, is gay.

He’s been able to hide his sexual orientation with the help of his best friend and beard, Lady Cassandra. Sometimes he feels like a coward for not coming out, but he daren’t risk losing the crown. If he did, the succession would fall on his deeply troubled younger sister, Princess Amelia. To protect her, James is willing to live a lie.

While on holiday, he meets Benjamin Dahan—a rugged international reporter with a globe-trotting, unattached life—who catches far more than James's eye. And when Ben is transferred to London, it seems fate may finally be smiling on James.

But what began as a torrid fling grows into something far more intimate and powerful. Soon James will have decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth... 



Where to Buy*:
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My Review:




"The cruelest thing you could do is shut yourself up in a lie forever."



Royalty always has their secrets that they hide from the world, the small pieces of themselves they try to keep from the public eye and the paparazzi’s cameras. For James, Prince of Wales, that secret is his sexual identity. If his parents hadn’t died, there might have been the possibility of coming out without disrupting the monarchy and politics. Now he keeps his true self under lock and key – not to protect himself so much as to protect everyone else that would be affected by it, most especially his sister, who would be considered next in line for the throne. Since Indigo cannot handle the daily stress of the royal life – or life in general as it is -- there’s no way she could handle being crowned. So James continues to lie about who he is to the world . . . Until he meets the journalist who could either bring it all crashing down or tempt him into finally pushing forward.



Each secret felt like something was being torn away, from him and James both. At first Ben thought this was closer to torture than to flirtation, and wondered why the hell he'd tried to gamble his way into a prince's confidence -- or into his bed.

But as more and more was torn away, Ben increasingly felt as though nothing was left to stand between them. Nothing save decorum, and a cheeseboard that became barer by the minute.



Ben was sent to Kenya to fill in for a colleague’s assignment: a story on James. It’s not Ben’s usual line of work at all, he’s a financial journalist, not a royal gossiper. In the middle of a storm, he never expected that the man he invited in from the rain would be none other than the Prince himself. What starts out as an innocent enough game of chess to pass the time turns into an intimate, but dangerous, swap of secrets, until James’s biggest secret is laid out for Ben to see – and act on. If he dares.


Before they can discuss anything more, James is called away on a family emergency, and it’s only then that he finds out who Ben is: a journalist, regardless of what beat he covers. The intimacy they just shared – both physically and emotionally – seems fake now, and James worries that his moment of weakness may cost him, his family, and his country, dearly. Yet when confronted about it later, James can’t help but feel that Ben is telling the truth: he would never sell James out. The two begin a secret tryst back in London, enjoying their time together even as the strictly physical relationship lines start to blur, while hoping that the truth will never be revealed and dreading the end that they know will come. Unless James can find a way to be out without sending his world into complete chaos.


I’m not usually one for royalty romances; I’m not against them by any means, but I don’t actively seek them out, either. But I am so damn glad I picked up His Royal Secret. I absolutely adored Pace’s writing, this story, and Ben and James. Everything came together perfectly and this is definitely on my 2016 favorites list.


I loved that the conflict throughout the story was real, and it was explained and handled in such a way that it never felt like it was filler being stuffed in just to keep the story going. James had legitimate reasons why he felt that there was no way to come out and still keep everything from falling apart in the aftermath. It’s impossible not to feel for him, and all the things he gives up in order to keep everyone around him content, at least as much as possible.


As a side note and trigger warning: Indigo, his sister, has anxiety and self-harms. The self-harm is mentioned a few times in passing, but there is one scene in which it’s actually seen as James tries to calm her down and clean her up. It’s not overly graphic, but if that’s something that you can’t read about, just be aware ahead of time.


Both Ben and James have some baggage from previous relationships, similar and yet different. Ben started a relationship with a much older man while he was still just a teen, and the man was more than a bit controlling and emotionally manipulative. Even now, years after Ben finally left him, he’s trying to get his claws into Ben again. It’s only through emails, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not going to play a slightly bigger part in the next book…I guess I’ll have to wait and see.



What a revelation, what a joy, what a complete fucking turn-on to be wanted for only himself.



James, of course, has only ever had secret affairs (a total of three before Ben), and the last one was the worst, as the man was only ever with James in order to blackmail him after. And James had no other choice but to buy his silence.  James is used to everyone wanting something from him, and combined with the fact that he can’t have an actual “normal” relationship, this does cause a few rough spots while he’s with Ben.



Their eye met, and the intesity of Ben's expression stole James's breath from him. Stole everything but the need to touch and be touched.

Ben seized him, back him against the wall. The door swung shut as they kissed each other in the dark. As James opened his mouth beneath Ben's, strong hands found James's ass, cupped him and tugged him closer, James pawed at Ben's shirt, fumbling with the buttons, impatient with everything in their way.

Neither of them said a word.

James gasped as Ben licked his throat, then roughly tugged up James's T-shirt and tossed it aside. When he pulled open Ben's shirt in return, and they were at last skin to skin, Ben groaned. His hand pressed against James's cock, warm even through the cotton boxers, and just that almost got him off.

Bedroom, we've got to get to the bedroom-- James managed to pull away enough to take Ben's hand. With a tug, he guided Ben through his personal sitting room into the hall.



There’s a good amount of steam as Ben and James are not at all reserved about the physical side of their relationship, even if there’s turmoil over it ever being anything more. Their chemistry sparks on the page and I loved every minute of it.


There's also some really sweet moments, like when they're trying to figure out how to handle the expanding intimacy of their relationship (Ben's sleeping over, for example), or their Christmas gifts to each other. And the ending . . . Oh, it gave me all the happy sighs.



"Yes. If the world finds out we're together, my life is ruined. But my life is ruined if I lose you. So I'm pretty well fucked either way."



[....] Later in that scene:


"You belong to me," Ben said, as though it were the most obvious, true thing in the world. "Maybe the public and the press own the part of you that's the prince, but not the man. You're mine, and I won't let anything take you away."



This is a duology, with the second part coming out in August. His Royal Secret doesn’t end on a cliffhanger per se – though I was worried up until the last chapter that it might. They are together still when the book ends, but they’ve still got a while to go before their relationship is public and safely on its way to a solid HEA. I was happy with this ending though, and I can survive (if only barely!) until August to finish their story. To be honest, the only reason I’m giving it 4 ½ stars rather than 5 is I need to see how their story is wrapped up first. I had no complaints about His Royal Secret. I loved it and will be waiting anxiously for His Royal Favorite. I very much enjoyed Pace’s writing and will be keeping an eye out for future books, too. 


4 1/2 STARS! 


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Lilah Pace; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Cannot recommend this book enough, I need book two now!

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on July 28th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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