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Release Review: His Royal Favorite: Lilah Pace


His Royal Favorite (His Royal Secret #2)
Lilah Pace
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Released August 16, 2016
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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?

Lilah Pace’s His Royal Favorite picks up where His Royal Secret left off and brings the story to its conclusion. In many ways, it is a satisfying read, obviously the result of careful consideration about what the effects of having the Prince of Wales come out as gay would be. While the primary conflict of this novel is of a private nature between the prince and his lover, this work focuses much more heavily on the public and family dramas surrounding their relationship. As such, it feels much less like a romance and more like a mainstream work of fiction. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just doesn’t evoke the strong romantic emotions that I’m used to feeling when reading the genre. Note: this is not a standalone novel, so you should read His Royal Secret first.

Prince James is about to reveal his homosexuality publicly, a decision that could well cost him his birthright as heir to the throne of England. But even though his lover, Benjamin Dahan, fully supports his decision, he knows Ben is unprepared for the stresses of being in the public spotlight. Of course, the news also causes extra conflict within the royal family, giving his uncle more ammunition to try to get himself on the throne, while at the same time, James continues to try to protect his mentally frail younger sister. But even if outside forces fail to remove him from the line of succession, he knows he might have to choose between his destiny and his lover. And Ben discovers that the choice to stay at James’s side isn’t as clear cut as he thought it would be.

While there was some angst in the first installment of the story, it mainly dealt with trying to keep their relationship secret. The external sources for conflict, primarily various members of the royal family, were established then as well. But the first book’s focus was much more on developing James’s and Ben’s relationship than on any of the various external sources of conflict. Once the decision was made at the end of the previous book for James to come out publically, everything else now becomes the focus in this book. As a result, the angst level gets cranked up a good bit in comparison. And it makes for an interesting read. I will say, though, that a couple of the sources of conflict that were present even early on in the first book, things that I thought were going to be very important to the plot in book two, turned out to be of only minor significance in the long run. One in particular surprised me, and because it turned out to be so minimal, I can’t say anything about it without spoiling, but how this plot line ended up resolving itself and advancing the overall plot seemed a little weak considering its importance to the story.

All that being said, the drama and angst in the story really turn out to be rather low-key; there’s just a lot of it, issues everywhere you look. I remember commenting in my review for the first book that it took me a while to get into believing that the characters were British, so perhaps all this “low-key” was a way to reinforce that? Seriously, though, the dramatic plot worked very well as a whole.

As far as James’s and Ben’s romance is concerned, it follows much of the same trend that I’ve noticed in direct sequels that aren’t separated with some big angsty cliffhanger. Most of the time is spent working through problems and working toward a bigger goal. This is handled nicely in this book, but by its nature, it’s without a lot of the things I like so much in romance: the firsts, the discoveries they make about each other. It’s more mental in building the relationship. As such, there’s significantly less page space devoted to the sexier parts of their relationship. They are certainly having sex—it gets mentioned all the time—but the vast majority occurs off-page in this one. I’m not bothered by that, but If you like page after page of raunchy, you’ll be a little disappointed here. Gladly, the story doesn’t need the sex in order to keep it worth reading. Though I wouldn’t have been upset to have a couple good in-depth scenes…

Upon reading the blurb for His Royal Secret, I was very interested in seeing how the story about a gay Prince of Wales would play out. And I enjoyed each of the books, though for different reasons. So when taken as a whole, the two books were successful in creating a satisfying and realistic story. I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in royal stories.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of His Royal Favorite in exchange for this fair and honest review.

 
This brings us back to the love story of James, Prince of Wales, and reporter Ben Dahan. I was pleasantly surprised that in the beginning, the author brought us an important scene that I felt was left out of the first book, His Royal Secret. So we begin with James finally revealing his secret to the royal family and then to the media. 

This story focuses on the aftermath. James and Ben both must face media scrutiny and threat of public backlash while also still dealing with their own new relationship and trying to merge their lives. Neither of them have ever really been in a healthy relationship before so they are learning as they go. 

Not everyone is happy that James decided to finally quit lying about himself, and he already had some working against him before. And Ben is thrust into a whole new world that carries a risk of public rejection. Some will support them. Some will be against them. Everyone is clamoring for some gossip or secrets. They are vulnerable due to their pasts having the potential to come back and haunt them and any small issue can be blown out of proportion. Their lives are inherently different and they come from different backgrounds. James was born and bred for the royal life, while Ben's life has suddenly changed dramatically. There are personal, professional, family, and political issues all affected by James and Ben's relationship. 

I still love the premise of this duet, but I will admit that I was not completely pleased with the execution. I have been enamored of the royal family for a long time so the story and plot were appealing. But unfortunately I still had some of the same disconnect I had with the first book. It felt like the story was narrated to me more like a documentary versus me feeling it along with the characters, despite getting both of their points of view. 

I was hoping that this would improve for me in this installment since by the end of the first book, I was finally starting to get more attached to the characters. They were likable enough, but for some reason they still  just fell a bit flat for me. They had so much potential and I can say that they both showed growth, but I wanted to actually be pulled in to experience the romance and emotions along with them and get all the feels. I did like that they were more mature and actually communicated and that they did have unique challenges that they faced. This one was more intimate and relationship-focused instead of relying on the sex scenes to show their chemistry or connection. They did have difficult struggles to overcome and there were no easy or definite answers.  I enjoyed how the side characters and their dynamics affected the story, and how there were some surprises. The chapters were long and it seemed to slow down the pace of the story even though there were plenty of issues and drama to deal with.

I did find all of the ramifications interesting. The theme of him being trapped between duty and love. It showed the importance of being true to oneself, trust, and sacrifice.  Can Ben ever truly fit into the royal life? Would James have to choose between Ben and the throne? Is love enough to withstand all the pressures bearing down on them?

Many reviewers did not have the issues I did with the writing style and pacing so if you enjoy M/M romances with a little forbidden element with the potential for significant repercussions, it would be worth giving this duet a try. It is clear that the author did her research and the situations that occurred could easily happen if a monarch was faced with these decisions. People who enjoyed the first book should be pleased that the author really explores their relationship, ties up all of the loose ends, and gives us plenty of interesting epilogue material.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

His Royal Secret (His Royal Secret #1)
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Released July 19, 2016
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Our 4.5- and 4-star reviews


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...
Lilah Pace
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Lilah Pace is a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling author, so she can’t give away too much about herself here, but she has lived everywhere from Italy to the United Kingdom before putting down roots in the American South.

She’s addicted to Diet Coke, loves her dog, and daydreams about several British movie stars (though usually no more than two at a time).

And while it took her a long while to get up the courage to write books, now she hopes she’ll never stop.



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