Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Review]: "Royal Affair"

Royal Affair by Parker Swift
Publisher: Forever Yours (February 14, 2017)
Series: Royal Scandal, 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance



One seriously sexy son-of-a-duke . . . 

Behind the posh British accent, Dylan Hale possesses a down-and-dirty sexiness. Off-the-charts gorgeous, a ruthless architect . . . and did I mention he's a future duke? Every time we touch, it's wildfire. All need and lust and heat. But Dylan has rules: just sex, no one can know, and in the bedroom he gets complete control. All I have to do is follow the rules, because falling in love with Dylan Hale is all it would take to screw everything up . . . royally.




Where to Buy*:
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My Review:



This review is going to be a bit different from my usual. It’ll be ranty. There’s a lot of fucks and other curses sprinkled throughout. It's really, really long. And I'm not at all sorry. It’s for a book that I did not like. At all. In fact, it’s a book that barely gets a 1 star from me. I had to write this review because I need you all to know to avoid Royal Affair like it’s the plague.


Let’s start from the very beginning, shall we? I requested this from NetGalley back in December because of the title (I was on a royal romance kick) and the cover caught my eye. I read the summary (on NG, mind you) and thought “Why not?”. Oh, I now regret this.


First of all, it’s not made clear – and in fact was nowhere on the particular summary posted on NG – that this is a trilogy, all full length novels, covering this couple. If I had known this, I may or may not have grabbed it; multiple books for one couple are not a deal breaker for me but I don’t really seek them out, either. But what pisses me off is that it’s NOT made clear; readers need to know when a couple’s story continues over more than one book. That’s non-negotiable. And it’s an issue that’s come up more than once in the community lately.


Once again -- Dear publishers/authors: please tell us, clearly and from the start, that a book is part 1 of whatever. 


Moving on to the cover. I like it. Bearded hot guy? Yes, please! But here’s the thing: IT IS NOT ACCURATE.


Why you ask? Here, a line directly from the book:



“...architect Dylan, urban Dylan, London Dylan, Lord Dylan. He was clean-shaven and wore a crisp white shirt….”



He. Does. Not. Have. A. Beard. Ever.


But. The.




Cover. Model.




Does.




I know, I know, there are a lot of problems with covers, which could be an entire conversation on its own. But on top of everything else I hated about this book, the false advertising on the cover was just another straw that pissed me off. Don’t tease a reader with a beard that doesn’t exist! That's just cruel.


Now on to the actual book. Oh man, I’m not even sure where to start. I guess I’ll try to stay in order, because it gets worse as the book goes on. Hold on, there’s a lot.


The first chapter or two was truly just “meh”. Nothing stood out as horrible to me yet but it also wasn’t really holding my attention or wowing me. I figured I’d stick with it, give it some more time. I can work with meh, if need be.


Spoiler alert: it didn’t get better. In fact, after around the 30% mark it went downhill real damn fast. By the last 20% I was just angrily swiping at my Kindle, skimming to get to the end, and hate-tweeting. So much hate-tweeting.


The two meet while she’s nannying for a rich family. Lydia finds out that Dylan’s not just a rich British architect– he’s in line to be a Duke (right now he’s a Marquess). He’s “intrigued” by her, and she tells him she’s soon moving to London for a job. Two weeks later, she steps out of the airport in London to find a driver waiting for her. She assumes it’s from her new job, even though she briefly realizes it’s odd for a newbie second assistant to be picked up by a driver in a VERY expensive car. She flicks that thought aside and takes the ride. She doesn’t ask the driver about who sent him, just gets in. Ooookay. That’s really stupid, but okay, sure. Worse, when she gets to work the next day, she never even asks and/or thanks her boss for providing the driver. She still blindly assumes they sent the car, end of story.


I’m side eyeing her at this point, in case you can’t tell.


Guess what? She later finds out that the car and driver wasn’t from her boss. No, it was from Dylan. He just sent his driver there the day she mentioned flying in, not knowing what time or what terminal, with instructions for the driver to wait for her. 


Perfectly normal thing to do. (Not.)


He lays it out clearly from the very beginning that they cannot have any sort of relationship and she must not be seen with him in any way. He won’t explain why (at the time), just basically tells her they can fuck, but it must be on the uber downlow. No one can know, no one can see them, blah blah blah. He tries to get her to keep this info from her best friend but she convinces him, barely, to let her at least talk to her about it because she won’t care/won’t tell.


FYI: I’m still side eyeing Lydia and we haven’t even reached the really crazy shit.


And so begins their fucking. The sex was okay at times, but at other times it was kind of bad. I quickly noticed that there’s a lot of repetition for phrases and words. Every scene, he tells her she must come for him NOW, he wants to feel her, etc., and of course she instantly shatters.


BTW, that is a romancelandia topic for another day, because it’s a common thing in sex scenes. In this case, it bothered me, while in other books I either like it or just ignore it. Here it was nearly the same phrasing cut and pasted at the end of every sex scene and I couldn't stop rolling my eyes.


He also calls her baby. Every. Other. Sentence. Not just in bed, but all through the book. I don’t mind endearments or even special nicknames, but they should be used sparingly, not thrown in like punctuation. Otherwise it just makes it seem cheap and sleazy, in my opinion.


Here’s where it started to go downhill fast. After they’ve fucked TWICE, he tells her – not asks, not discusses, flat out tells her – that she’s going to get on birth control and get tested because he has to fuck her bare.


They’re not in a relationship of any sort – his own words, remember! – and they’ve literally fucked twice but he expects her to get on birth control so he can skip the condoms?


NooooOOOOooo, dude, no.


My side eye was turning into angry eyes at him and rolling side eyes at her.


But wait! He’s not done being a asshole douchebag! He then tugs on her pubic hair and tells her she’s going to get shaved because he wants her bare. Oh, and she’ll like it. Just like that, too; her opinion on it is an afterthought to his.



“I don’t want anything between us.” He reached down and gently tugged at my pubic hair. “Same goes for this. Let’s rid you of this today, shall we? I want skin on skin.”

[…]

“I warned you I was bossy,” he said. […] “Plus, you’ll love it. Trust me.”



I shit you not, he sees the act of her shaving her own damn body as something that positively affects him first and her second. 


IT. IS. HER. BODY. IF. SHE. HASN’T. WAXED. ALL. THESE. YEARS. SHE. DOESN’T. HAVE. TO. CHANGE. FOR. YOU.


Also? As a general rule, a man tugging on your pubic hair should trigger an automatic kick to his nuts. Or at least that’s my reaction. Clearly she’s fine with it. 


She thinks, briefly, about how he shouldn’t do and say this and it’s her body but then in the next breath she again flings that pesky thought away and gives in. Let me tell you how, shall I?


They have plans one evening. He sends his driver over to pick her up. Okay, nothing new there. She gets in and the driver says “Oh, by the way, we’re making a quick stop first.”


Can you guess where the stop is?


Yep. Dickbag made an appointment for her to be waxed. Without her permission or actually talking to her about it, and makes his driver take her there before she comes to his place for dinner.


She decides to “defy” him a bit by telling the aesthetician to leave her a small landing strip rather than a full Brazilian.


No, stupid girl, defying this piece of shit “hero” would be walking out of the spa and telling him to go fuck himself, not finding some middle ground about YOUR BODY. But I digress.


Keep in mind, this is her first time getting a full wax; she mentions she’s done some light bikini shaving/waxing before but that’s it. She just had everything (but a small piece) yanked out.


SOMEHOW the woman, a professional who does this every damn day, doesn’t tell Lydia that she can’t have sex for a while after a wax. 


Lydia continues to his place thinking she’s going to get some like they planned. Oh but HE knows she can’t have sex post-wax – of course he knows this and didn’t tell her about it; controlling dickbag, remember? – and he only decides to tell her so at the very last minute. She’s pissed because she wanted sex and now she can’t have it -- rather than being pissed that he’s being a controlling piece of shit, like a sane woman would be at this point -- and he tells her not to worry, he’s going to still play with her tonight.



“You’re too sensitive for us to fuck.” I spun around to meet his gaze. What? 

“Lydia, you’re not supposed to have sex for at least twelve hours after you’ve been waxed.” 

I pushed him away. “What?” I said harshly. “Wait a minute. A) Why do you know that? That’s just weird. But B) why the fuck did you have me get waxed tonight?” I was outraged! He’d been on my mind all afternoon, he had me horny as hell, and now he was going to deny me? 

“Lydia. I know what I’m doing. I wanted to see this.” He turned me back to face the mirror, pushed my arms aside and gently outlined the tiny patch of hair with his finger and thumbed it, teasing and sending me flying. I loved the look on his face, how turned on he was. I loved his hands on me—I never wanted them off of me again. “And we’ll still play. I promise. I’m just not going to be able to fuck you the way I want to so badly right now.” He frowned.


[….]


“Goddamn, I was a fool to let you get waxed tonight. I so badly want to sink into you.”



BECAUSE CLEARLY IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM, RIGHT?


ALSO “LET”? “LET”? He didn’t “let” her do anything he MADE her do this. Fucking hell.


Silly me – and silly Lydia – I assume he’s going to then finger her and/or eat her out, maybe get a BJ out of it, too. Seems like how the scene would go, yes? Wrong. Out of the fucking blue, he has her get on her knees on the bed, ass in the air, and he pulls out a plug and lube.


THEY. HAVE. NEVER. DISCUSSED. ANY. ANAL. PLAY. BEFORE. NOW. NONE. AT. ALL. PERIOD. 


Wait. I stand corrected. He fingered her ass once in the scene before this one. A “Here, I’m going to stick my finger in rather than first ask you if you want this because only I know what you need/like/want” scene.


I can’t even with all this. I just cannot. At this point, I wanted to kill him a dozen times over. She, of course, just goes with it because orgasms from a hot guy. IDK IDK that's all I can figure for her reasoning.


That’s NOT how you do a healthy relationship, even one that’s “just sexual”. You don’t just spring things on your partner without having a discussion about it – an actual damn discussion, not him just saying what he’s going to do as he does it to her -- without asking them what they want or what they like or what their limits are. This is so wrong and I hated him for it all. It wasn’t sexy for me.


Oh, and just to add insult to injury here, this scene includes the phrase “anal opening”. 


Yeah. Let me say it again: anal opening. 


Whyyyyyyy?


So he’s made her shave her pussy and pressed anal play on her without prior discussion or warning or prep. Oh, and from scene one, he’s told her she cannot wear underwear, ever because he wants easy access and all that alpha shit. What more could he do?


Oh. So much. Remember, she’s supposed to go to the doctor’s because he needs to be inside her without those pesky condoms RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.


And of course, she goes, gets tested, and gets on the pill. 


Um, I don’t recall any mention of HIM getting tested though, which is total bullshit. Is she just supposed to believe that he’s clean? Is he not worried about STDs, just the threat of possible babies? Either way, fuck no.


She comes out of the doctor’s office and tells him she has one week on the pill and  then they can go bare.


You. Need. More. Than. One. Week. Before. Trusting. The. Pills. Alone. To. Prevent. Pregnancy.


FFS, I wanted to shake her and kick him in the nuts.


Again, he’s making it all about himself though:



He reached into his pocket and retrieved a condom. “Three more days of this bullshit.” His impatience was evident as he tore through the wrapper with his teeth and handed it to me.



Ladies, come here for a second. If ANY guy, no matter how long you’ve known him or how close you two are, says this to you? Kick him out of that bed and out of your life. That kind of talk should be a hard NO to any woman. He doesn’t care about her or her body or her choice, he’s just thinking of his poor cock being encased in latex and won’t anyone think of his poor cock because this waiting is just so unfair? Fuck. That. Shit. He’s pouting like a fucking child because the condom is such an inconvenience to him – he doesn’t care about the fact that it’s protection for her, for both of them, or what she’s thinking. It’s just him, his cock, and his goddamn ego.


After this, I really started flipping through the book to “finish” it. I never cared about her, thought she was acting TSTL about all of these things, and I HATED him. So I didn’t give one shit about their story. I kept going purely to see if it could get any worse, to make note of any other shit going on with the plan of doing this review.


I never got the hero vibe off of Dylan. I got the creepy molester vibe off of him though. More than once she wakes up with him RIGHT by her face, watching her, waiting for her to wake up “enough” for him to start fucking her.




The next time I woke up, the light was peeking through the drapes. I was on my back and I found myself looking up into his very awake, very sexy face. His nose was inches from mine, and his legs were parting my own, spreading my thighs. His two-day-stubble was better than any cup of coffee—between it and his cock pressing between my legs, I was instantly awake.

“Don’t worry – I’m wearing a condom,” was the only thing he actually managed to say to me before he thrust into me. Hard. My knees flew up to help accommodate him. Apparently I woke up wet for him, because there was no doubting my readiness. He met no resistance.



Do I have to explain why that’s a no?! Listen, morning sex is great. But both participants should be either equally awake or equally sleepy, not one awake and one sleepy, especially when said awake partner just slides right in without waiting for any sort of consent (verbal or otherwise). Physical arousal by itself is not proof of consent. Which is an entire discussion as well, but you’re damn right I’m going to bring it up here. My internal monologue was a constant NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE through these scenes.


Here, another one later on:




“I know you’re tired, Lydia, but I can’t wait. You feel ok?” I looked up at him and smiled sweetly, giving him my consent.



Um, smiled sweetly doesn’t equal consent to me, especially in the context of how he treats her.


And there was a later scene where she’s wakes up wondering how she went from the car ride home the night before to waking up in his bed the next morning, to which he just shrugs it off as her being a deep sleeper as he carried her up and undressed her, etc.





“You were dead asleep,” he  began to explain, as he inched himself up into a sitting position, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and pulled me with him. “I didn’t have the heart to wake you. I went to your house, and left you in the car—I locked it, obviously. I packed you an overnight bag, brought you back here, and brought you up to bed.”

“You carried me?” I asked, and he nodded and yawned in confirmation. “I never woke up?”

“It was rather remarkable. You were dead to the world.” He smiled and was thoughtful for a moment.





I can’t—

That’s not—

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!


I’m not saying those questionable scenes were written specifically to make a reader uncomfortable, to make them doubt the hero’s intentions. But that’s what makes it even worse – clearly the author and then the editor(s) thought that there was nothing wrong with it, that those things are all normal “sexy” things an alpha hero does.


Um, no. NOOOOOO. Never.


He treats her like a cross between a child and his plaything – in general, not just about his bedroom control. He doesn’t want her out with any men, even friends or neighbors, and basically would like her to just stay in her house all the time and never leave, especially not without his driver, because it’s “not safe”.




“He lives next door to you? Lydia, it’s obvious that he likes you. Admit that, or I won’t ever let you go home alone again. Ever. I dare you to see if I’m joking about this.”



HOW. IS. THAT. A. SEXY. HERO. THING. TO. SAY?!?!?!?!


He wants her around when it’s convenient to him but as soon as he has things to handle, he basically pats her on the head and sends her on her way like a good girl. Again, fuck that shit. I didn’t highlight an example of this and I’m too pissed to go back through and find one now. The entire way he treats her and speaks to her wasn’t “sexy alpha hero” it was “get the fuck away from me asshole”. Except she doesn’t see it that way, of course, she thinks everything is just fine. Sure, she gets a bit mad that he doesn’t do relationships yet is always being seen with an old family friend (“to throw the paparazzi off” Lydia), but she all but rolls over and just takes all of his garbage. 


I love a good alpha hero. I even love when a D/s relationship is done well. Royal Affair doesn’t claim to be a D/s relationship in any way. I’m mentioning a D/s relationship here because that, when done wrong or when seen by someone on the outside, can seem similar to the shit I’m complaining about. It’s not though. Even when there’s a power play going on, there should be consent and respect going all around all the time. But the things going on between Dylan and Lydia? Didn’t scream respect and consent to me. If Lydia was my friend and told me all these things I just pointed out, I’d tell her to run. It’s borderline abusive – not physically, but in every other sense.


I want to believe that’s not how the author wanted it to come across. But, for me at least, that’s all I could see and I didn’t like it one bit.


Oh, and another thing that pissed me off, though it has nothing to do with Dylan: the one gay man in the book is stereotypical as fuck. In fact, Lydia, upon first seeing him, thinks he’s “obviously gay”. That is NOT okay. A person’s way of dressing or speaking or acting is not the official proclamation of their sexuality. It’s lazy and harmful to put such a stereotype in your books and I’m not going to let that slide under the radar.


So to sum it up: I hated this book. I should have just DNF’ed after he wanted her to shave and get on the pill. The only good thing that came from reading this Sunday night was the conversations it sparked on my Twitter as readers shared in my outrage over the quotes I posted. Otherwise, there’s not one thing about this book that I liked or would recommend. I will NOT be reading book 2 or 3. I don’t care what happens to them next. I hope she goes on to live a life with an actual hero by her side and that he falls off a damn cliff. Actually, I want to wax his balls and junk in the most painful way possible and then set fire to his balls.


I don’t know, is all of this clear enough? I. Hated. Him.


Would it have helped if the book had also been from his POV? I really, really doubt it. I think that would have just gave me even more reason to kick him in the nuts.


For me, this book was a complete fail. End of story.


Most of the reviews I’m seeing online are all 4 and 5 stars. I believe readers need to see the good and the bad about a book in order to make a decision about buying it. So. Here you go. All the reasons why I wanted to throw this book against the wall and set fire to the hero. It’s now up to you whether his asshole ways are your thing or not. You do you, I won’t judge. As for me, Dylan can go fuck himself, I’m out.


1 STAR! 


~ * ~ * ~

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

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

~ * ~ * ~



I just . . . I can't with this book.


Here, I'll leave you with one last laugh. A friend's response to my tweet about "anal opening":






Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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