Reputations at Risk A ROYAL KISS AND TELL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new royal historical romance from Julia London. A ROYAL KISS & TELL is the second book in the A Royal Wedding series and I was excited to read on in the series. Catch my review for THE PRINCESS PLAN to get a sense for that engaging story. A ROYAL KISS & TELL surely puts its characters into tough situations. Prince Leopold’s reputation is ruined trying to save sexual slaves from England’s finest lords–and Caroline’s both the instigator and the fixer for Leo’s cause.

About the book:
Every prince has his secrets. And she’s determined to unravel his…
Every dashing young man in London’s ton is vying for Lady Caroline Hawke’s hand—except one. Handsome, delectable roué Prince Leopold of Alucia can’t quite remember who Caroline is, and the insult is not to be tolerated. So, Caroline does what any clever, resourceful lady of means would do to make sure a prince remembers her: sees that amusingly risqué morsels about Leo’s reputation are printed in a ladies’ gossip gazette…all the while secretly setting her cap for the rakish royal.

Someone has been painting Leo as a blackguard, but who? Socially, it could ruin him. More important, it jeopardizes his investigation into a contemptible scheme that reaches the highest levels of government in London. Now, Leo needs Lady Caroline’s help to regain access to society. But this charming prince is about to discover that enlisting the deceptively sweet and sexy Lady Caroline might just cost him his heart, his soul and both their reputations…

My Review:
This is the second book in a historical romance series, and can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Lady Caroline Hawke is in Alucia enjoying the celebrations of her dearest friend Eliza Tricklebank marrying her love, Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia. Caroline is a celebrated English lady, invited to the poshest of salons and all the right balls. She lives with her brother and guardian, Beckett, who is a duke. Caroline takes great offense to the notion that Prince Seb’s younger brother Prince Leopold does not remember making their acquaintance–and she makes an official nuisance of herself in the courts of Alucia acting far too familiar and breaking all the rules of protocol. Leo, if he did find her attractive, is thoroughly turned off by her boorish breaks in decorum.

Leo, himself, is a man of little accomplishment. He’s spent years in England attending Cambridge and drinking his days away. As the “spare,” his father doesn’t bother educating in matters of state, he’s led an indulgent life. There are some intigues of the Alucian court–especially with concerns over its bordering nation Wesloria and the possibility for conflict–but Leo has had very little interest in any of this–and even less had been shared with him regarding the politics of the situation. Still, he’s inexplicably approached by an Alucian insurgent who tells him that Weslorian girls are being sold into sexual slavery in London to gain favors for those who seek to stage a coup de etat against Leo’s father, King Karl and unite Alucia and Wesloria under Karl’s younger half-brother’s rule. King Karl, seeking to unite factions in his favor, has just announced that Leo is betrothed to the daughter of a wealthy Weslorian industrialist–who has been implicated by his informant to be a cog in the sexual slave network. Leo has the summer to return to London, find five missing Weslorian slave girls, and potential stop his marriage to a girl who makes no secret of preferring the captain of her guard.

Leo and Caroline return to London, and their paths continue to intersect, not the least because Leo and Beckett have become fast friends. Leo steps in when Caroline is deeply ill, assisting Beckett get a doctor and bringing tokens to cheer brother and sister. Part of his attentiveness stems from the fact that the contact his informant gave is a maid in Beckett’s London home. And, when Caroline thinks she sees Leo messing about with their maid, well, she does let the rumor out to her friend, Hollis, Eliza’s sister and the editor of Honeycutt’s Gazette for Fashionable Ladies–a gossip rag that starts spreading Leo’s less-than-genteel exploits in the homes of esteemed Lords–who have themselves a Weslorian slave Leo hopes to return home.

Everyone in London thinks Prince Leo a depraved and degenerate man, helped along by all the gossip of Caroline’s friends, and his social status dries on the vine. Invitations are rescinded and he has no way of finding the remaining girls. Caroline is desolate because her heart had definitely turned toward the prince since his help with her sickness. She regrets her gossiping, and can’t understand why Leo would cavort with maids and prostitutes when he has plenty of access to quality women. When agents of the Crown turn up on Caroline’s door, she finally demands that Leo–who has indeed become a friend in these times–tell her the truth of his shenanigans. And, that turns the tide–getting Caroline in board with the rescue effort. The romance, which had been simmering begins a slow boil. It’s a long time before Caroline and Prince Leo admit their love, and even longer before they do more than kiss.

The story really revolves around the intrigue of English, Alucian and Weslorian courts. The romance is slow to develop and adversarial from the outset. Both Leo and Caroline have a lot of soul-searching to complete to turn them from vapid caricatures of the upper echelons into richer, complex characters. They do this work, first Leo and then Caroline, and the compassionate and passionate people they become are people I enjoyed reading about. If you enjoy historical romances, and royalty romances, this might be a book for your list.

Interested? You can find A ROYAL KISS & TELL on Goodreads, Harlequin Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

And don’t forget to check out THE PRINCESS PLAN on Goodreads, Harlequin Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo.

About the Author:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than two dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.

Catch up with Julia on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Positively Scandalous THE PRINCESS PLAN–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a royal historical romance from Julia London. THE PRINCESS PLAN is the first book in the A Royal Wedding series and was a fun and entertaining romp.

About the book:
Princes have pomp and glory—not crushes on commoners.
Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

My Review:
At age 28, Eliza Tricklebank is the eldest and spinster daughter of an honorable justice of the Queen’s Bench in Her Majesty’s Service in the year of our Lord 1845. Her father is a doting man, and rather dependent on Eliza to read his missives to him as he’s nearly blind. Eliza’s younger sister Hollis is widowed, and publishes her late husband’s broadsheet rechristened from a political magazine into Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies, which is an upscale gossip rag. Connections to some higher society folk brings plenty of tidbits for the paper, but none so much as Eliza manages to stumble into.

While at a masquerade ball in honor of Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia, Eliza encounters his highness in a service corridor. She is well on her way to drunk on rum punch–her first time ever tasting it–and offers the parched man beside her a taste of her drink. He thinks she’s offering up more than that–and she’s slightly offended, but not so much. He’s just a tall, foreign masked man in the moment and it’s not until later that she’s stepped on by Sebastian making his getaway that she realizes who’d attempted to seduce her in that hall.

Her scandalous accounting to Hollis is nothing compared to the big news the next morning: the personal secretary of the prince was MURDERED that night! Sebastian is frustrated that the English law enforcement can’t help him find the killer, and he thinks (with good reason) he’s a huge target for assassins from a neighboring country working in London. Sebastian, who is in London to establish trade treaties and find an advantageous English wife, remembers the odd and brash woman who introduced her own self at the ball the night of the murder. Clues in Honeycutt’s Gazette point him to Judge Tricklebank to whom he immediately goes in search of answers. There he finds Eliza, who will not stand for his rude and upsetting behavior–which he’s only more incensed about. Sebastian is not a man who hears “no” very often, and his ire at being upbraided on his manners soon tempers into an inexplicable attraction for Eliza. Her quick wit, fearlessness, and hidden beauty are enough to tempt him, but when she goes beyond all reason and expectation to help Sebastian discover the killer, and the traitors in his midst, he’s in a full-out swoon.

Only, Sebastian, for all his power, can’t marry any woman he fancies; he must marry a titled lady, something Eliza lacks. That said, he’s not a lazy man, and his ability to see a plan to its end might just catch the woman of his dreams–a princess fit to lead beside him.

This is a fun romp with some dangerous twists and scandalous curves. Eliza isn’t a fair maiden, and she’s not looking for a rescue. Sebastian is a man in need of help, and he’s not going to get it by throwing his weight around. London is not his domain, and for all his power he’s utterly helpless in his pursuit of justice. The recurrent theme of not underestimating the fairer sex really drives this home as Eliza continually challenges Sebastian and rises above his expectations. She’s a fun character, with a low filter and a BS meter set a zero. I loved the banter and the flirtations, which build from the first meeting. The vignettes from the Gazette serve as interludes of humor and plot motion, filling in gaps in a quick and snappy way–continually poking fun at the sexist and classist notions of the era. Though set in 1850s London, the sensibility is clearly American Individualist as Eliza flouts conventions of society time and again, in ways that would be 100% boorish in another character. She’s educated and intelligent and unwilling to give up her independence, which is a hindrance to the period romance.

This isn’t a chaste story, but it’s not super steamy. Expect a slow burn and a ton of sass. Eliza may not want to be a married woman, but she doesn’t mind making use of Sebastian’s athletic body and sexual frustration. In their quest for truth, Eliza eventually accepts that she’s falling hard for Sebastian, and she’ll be sad to see him marry a pretty, vapid heiress with the right social connections.

Good thing that’s not how it ends! I really enjoyed it, and look forward to the sequel coming out later this month.

Interested? You can find THE PRINCESS PLAN on Goodreads, Harlequin Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than two dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.

Catch up with Julia on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!