Title: His Royal Secret
Author: Lilah Pace
Publisher: InterMix (Penguin/Random House)
Length: 224 Pages
At a Glance: Overall, I would have to say that I liked His Royal Secret for the most part, but wish James and Ben could have kept that same charm going that they had in the beginning.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: 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 to decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth…
Review: Man, I don’t know where to start with this one. My feelings on His Royal Secret are mixed. There were parts of it I loved, parts of it I was totally into, and then there were parts of it that dragged and left me feeling like the story I started reading had changed course and was no longer the book I got on the ride with.
Things started out SO strong. I immediately liked Prince James—and his pretend girlfriend, Lady Cassandra—and was sucked into the story right away. When we meet James and Cass, they are working out the details of how to handle a news story that has just broken regarding “another infidelity” on her part, and we learn that, of course, the Prince is gay, and that Cass is his long-time best friend and current beard. They decide that things will calm down while James is away on his Africa tour, and to stick with the tried-and-true ‘estrangement’ strategy. We also learn that James’ parents died tragically in a storm at sea and that he had been quite close to them, and that he has very little hope that he would ever be able to come out and keep his position in line for the throne.
Jump ahead to a rainy afternoon in Kenya, where things are about to get interesting…
The whole part in Kenya was hands down my faaaaavorite part of the book. I loved the meet cute between Prince James and Ben, who is a journalist for Global Media Services. When they meet, of course James doesn’t know Ben is a journalist, and they have this amazing, relaxing afternoon of drinking rum, playing chess, and trading secrets (this scene also made me fall in love with the book’s title and cover). James and Ben enjoyed friendly, easygoing banter during the chess game, as well as telling each other extremely personal, intimate things about themselves that they had never shared with anyone else. Everything about it felt real and natural, like there was no gameplay or agenda during those few hours, from either side.
Quick aside: There is also a super funny and clever bit in this scene about how James and his sister used to classify people as either cats or dogs based on their behavior toward royalty. I’d love to lay out the whole bit for you here because it really was hilarious, but it’s just a little too long. It cracked me up, though. Had to mention it!
Obviously things between them heat up, there are sexytimes, they accidentally fall sleep, and then, in his rush to leave so as not to miss his dinner engagement, the prince ends up finding Ben’s press credentials, and they argue. James leaves in a whoosh of hurt feelings and anger, and quickly finds out that his grandfather, the king, has had a stroke and that he is needed back in England straightaway.
This middle section of the book is where things were up and down for me. While I adored James throughout the book, I can’t say the same thing for Ben. I felt like his character was inconsistent. At times he seemed genuine, and like he was even a bit of a romantic, but at other times, he came across as so cynical and closed off that I didn’t like him for James at all. Also, when they meet again at a dinner event in London, they decide on a place to meet and have sex—which is the hottest sex scene in the book, btw—where they also decide that that’s all their relationship can be, just sex, and proceed to have a number of cold hookups. I feel like we were robbed of some of the early charm of the book when they went with the “just sex” thing upon their second meeting. Their chemistry was completely different than it had been in Kenya.
The thing I loved in this part of the book, though, was everything Royals. All of the Royal Family stuff and details of James’ life as the prince were captivating. The relationships and the protocols, and the whole storyline involving their roles and duties, and what was expected of them…the whole thing was very cool. It’s funny, but it almost felt like reading Royal Family fanfic! Sort of ‘ripped from the headlines’ type stuff that could have been about current or former beloved Royals of recent decades. And, I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was fascinating and entertaining.
So, while the middle sort of fizzled as far as James and Ben’s relationship, in my opinion, it did bring the cool stuff mentioned above, as well as a more touching and dramatic storyline involving James’ sister, Indigo. She has an extremely strong bond with James, and I thought their relationship was very moving.
Overall, I would have to say that I liked His Royal Secret for the most part, but wish James and Ben could have kept that same charm going that they had in the beginning. This was my first book by Lilah Pace—and it definitely won’t be my last since she ended this one on sort of a cliffhanger!! *giggles* But, she did start to bring things back around toward the end, and I must see what happens in the second half of the story when His Royal Favorite releases next month.
You can buy His Royal Secret here: