Monday, August 8, 2016

[ARC Review]: "His Royal Favorite"

His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace
Publisher: InterMix (August 16, 2016)
Series: His Royal Secret, 2
Genre: M/M Romance

The conclusion of Lilah Pace’s racy, romantic male/male duology following His Royal Secret...

James, Prince of Wales, is making history. He's decided to come out to his subjects—and the world. However, telling the truth means exposing his relationship with lone-wolf reporter Benjamin Dahan. Although Ben never wanted commitment, the unexpected depth of his feelings leads him to join James in the media's harsh spotlight. 

When the news story explodes across the globe, Ben can endure the mockery and dirty jokes. But after his tragic past is cruelly revealed, his life begins to implode. Can even his love for James be worth this? 

James has it no easier. His revelation divides the country and sparks turmoil within the royal family. He must struggle to defend not only himself and Ben, but also his younger sister, who hovers on the brink of a breakdown that could endanger her life. 

Is Ben strong enough to survive the onslaught and stand by James' side? And will James have to make a choice between Ben and the crown? 



Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Reviews of Pace's Previous Novels:

His Royal Secret (#1) -- TBQ



My Review:


When you are royalty, the decision to come out isn’t one taken lightly, and unfortunately has some repercussions. But Ben has changed everything in James’s life, and for once he’s not opposed to going public. It won’t be an easy road, he may very well lose support, even the crown, and because of that perhaps even send his sister into a crisis. Yet even so, James is tired of hiding in the closet, royal or not.



Obviously James was determined to remain in royal life; obviously Ben was never going to become royal himself. They had built a bridge between those worlds, and now they just had to figure out how to sustain it once James went public.



Where His Royal Secret was more focused on Ben and James’s budding relationship, His Royal Favorite picks up where the “honeymoon stage” – not, not literally – ends and reality sets in. James comes out to the world, with Ben at his side (and therefore also in the news) and must fight to keep his place as heir to the throne. For James, the royal life and responsibilities are so much a part of him that leaving it all behind would be nearly difficult for him – unless that decision is taking away from him by the church and monarchy. Yet Ben can’t handle the royal life, the constant burn of eyes upon his every move and his every secret, and as much as he loves James, the lifestyle starts to cage him in, creating a bit of a rift between the two. They come from two very different worlds and want two very different things in life; they love each dearly, but they have to see if they can work it all out because love, while powerful, cannot patch together their mismatched life all by itself.


Indigo – James’s sister – does have a crisis in this book (self-harm and anxiety), and man, it was painful to read it, yet I was so glad to see her finally getting help, to see her fighting for herself and her life – to see James and Ben, and even the uncle, rally around her to offer what support they could. I thought Indigo’s mental illness was handled quite well in both of these books, but of course if that’s a trigger for you, you can always skip the scenes. I was also very happy to see her happiness at the end of this book; it was very much deserved, and honestly, I would have liked to read her full story.



"In an awful rush, aren't--" James's words had been stopped by Ben's mouth on his. For a few long moments they kissed, rather sloppily, as Ben backed him toward the wall. Before they reached it though, Ben actually bent to sweep James 's legs out from under him, picking him up in his arms. James latched his arms around Ben's neck in delight. "Are you actually carrying me to bed? Like Scarlett O'Hara?

"Frankly, my dear, I most certainly am."



There’s a lot less sex in this one compared to HRS. Like, the sex is almost MIA here, and what is given is very brief. While I’m not saying that sex is everything or the Major Requirement for Romance (it’s not), I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit disappointed in the lack of it. I realize that turning to sex would not have fixed the problems James and Ben had going on, and of course I’m glad that sex wasn’t used as an easy out (and ultimately a makeshift band aid to their relationship), but I do wish there had been at least one good sex scene shown. Perhaps their second chance at the dungeon fantasy, which failed earlier in the book because of the various issues and conflicts, internal and external, going on at the time.


Sex aside, I did feel like His Royal Favorite was not quite as strong as HRF, at least for me. Then again, this one showed more of the reality of the rocky road to a HEA – difficult in any relationship, but most especially here, because Royalty Problems – while HRS was more about the romance and relationship building blocks. I was completely drawn into the story in HRS, but His Royal Favorite didn’t have my attention as thoroughly.


However, I would like to point out that mood has a huge impact on reading, and during the week that I was reading this, I was not in the best mood; I’m sure that factored into my reading experience, though how much is hard to say. Would I have loved this one more if I had read it right after finishing HRS, or at least if I had read it a different week, one where my mind wasn’t on the countless stresses in my life? Perhaps so.


Regardless, I was still more than happy with the conclusion to their story.


I absolutely loved this part, from the epilogue. It all started with the chess game, after all.



There, newly installed in one corner was a small table and two chairs. Together they walked forward until James could see it properly. The inlaid wood game board in the top, the marble chess set gleaming.

"It's beautiful," James beamed.

Ben thought maybe he still didn't fully understand the gift. "Last year, you gave me a travel set," Ben explained. "Because we both assumed I'd be on the move again eventually. So this year I'm giving you a set that stays right here. A set that's a part of our home."



All that being said, it’s not like I was disappointed in this book by any means, and when I say I didn’t love it as much as HRS, we’re talking about a very small separation in rating between the two; I gave HRS 4 ½ stars, and this gets a solid 4 from me. Together with book 1 – and you must read them together, otherwise you’ll not get James and Ben’s full story – this was a great story arc that I very much enjoyed. If you want a contemporary royalty romance between a prince and the man he met one rainy day, I highly recommend this duology. Especially if you want the lushness of royal life alongside the reality of such a life, and public relationship, both of which Pace handles very well. The epilogue was so perfect: cute, sweet, and enjoyable, and spanned multiple months, giving us a glimpse into not only James and Ben’s future, but also many of the other royal family and friends. I can’t imagine a better ending than that.


4 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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Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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