Date: July 19th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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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...
This is quite the fairy tale m/m romance! I first read His Royal Secret back in July but waited to review it and His Royal Favorite together as it really is one story. The main focus is on James, Prince of Wales, who is unhappily in the closet due to his concerns regarding how much of a tailspin his sexuality would throw both the monarchy and his family in were it to be known. He has a number of decent reasons for this, ranging from a mentally ill younger sibling who does not want to inherit, a scheming uncle who does, and worries over what kind of stance The Church of England will take and how that will affect public support. Beyond all that, James as lived a very privileged but undeniably controlled and limited life in preparation for becoming king, loss of the crown would make the loss of a normal youth feel a waste in so many ways and he is a both tender and steely young man who takes the duty he was raised for seriously. On a trip to Kenya is encounters globe-trotting reporter Benjamin Dahan and their clandestine affair is the center of the first book. Since their coming together was with the original understanding that no one was to ever know, and that it would have an end date, the relationship in the first book is more physical than emotional. Especially on the part of Ben, as he typically avoids relationships after having a very negative, but impactful, one in his youth. Everything changes when James makes the decision to come out publicly and Ben has to either accept that the affair is over or face the limelight. The only real drawback I felt the first book had was that it did feel almost entirely sexual at times, but that was also a reflection of the fact that, at that point, out of necessity on the part of James (who knew he wished he could have a real relationship) and unwillingness for more from Ben, it was all they agreed to.
His Royal Favorite (book #2) by contrast is all about making a relationship work and I absolutely loved it! Here we go on a journey with two men who, it can be fairly said, have never been in a real relationship before. Throw in that one of them is a member of the royal family and the other has never had any interest (and in most cases respect) for said institution as well as a media, family, and public reacting in their own ways and you have a recipe for tension that runs fairly high for most of the book. While poor Ben is fairly miserable during a lot of this, probably my biggest surprise was how funny I found this half of the story to be! Lilah Pace has another duology plus a novella that came out last year that I loved, but that was much darker and didn’t really have any laugh-out-loud moments for me. His Royal Secret didn’t either, then all of a sudden I start reading book two and wonder when this woman got so funny!!!! I literally laughed out loud at least a dozen times during this book, mostly just funny turns of phrase and ways of describing things, but it really helped ease the tension as well as fit tonally with how absurd aspects of royal life would come across to someone previously on the outside. I also felt genuine emotion of a very high degree when James gave his coming out speech to the press. I wanted to jump into the book and hug him for how perfect it was. *sniff* The epilogue is a good length and one of the most satisfying I have read (bonus points for that Freddy Eynsford-Hill reference! :))
This duology is perfect if you are looking for a romance that is heart-warming and charming while also taking the reader on an interesting modern what-if scenario.