His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace: Lilah Pace made a name for herself in 2015 with her controversial but well received romance Asking for It that dealt with themes of consensual rape fantasy role play. This time she’s delving into the world of male/male romance with a timely and thought provoking story idea – what if the man in line to take the British throne was gay?
James, growing up in the royal family, knows his role. With the tragic death of his parents a few years earlier, he’s the next in line to be King when his aged grandfather passes away. His sister Amelia suffers from a mental illness that is not public knowledge, and if he were to pass on his duties, she’d have to take up the throne which would not end well. As the soon to be head of Great Britain and the Anglican Church, the controversy that would happen were it to be public knowledge that he’s gay is seemingly insurmountable. As a result he’s stayed in the closet his whole life. His sister knows the truth, and his best friend Cassandra who has played his ‘beard’ for years. Their on again/off again relationship is constant tabloid fodder, especially now that she’s actually been seeing another man and been caught doing so.
On a royal visit to Kenya, James meets Ben. James takes shelter from a rainstorm on Ben’s hotel room patio, and though Ben doesn’t at first realize who it is when he invites him in, it’s clear pretty quickly who he is. But without the trappings of his station, James can just be a regular guy having a drink with a stranger. Ben is a journalist but he doesn’t correct James’ first impression that he’s a novel writer. A game of chess, a few extra long glances, and suddenly they end up in bed together. When James finds out at the end of their sojourn that Ben is a journalist who has been sent to cover James’ trip he feels betrayed and their night ends on a sour note, with James worried that he’s going to be outed, right at the worst possible time. But Ben keeps his secret, and two months later when he’s been transferred to the London office, he has a chance to meet James again. This time, with an apology and an understanding between them, they begin a secret, heated affair, one they know can only last for so long. But what will they do when they both start to realize how strong their feelings are for each other?
I have to say that from the very first pages of this story, I was totally invested in this romance. I really felt for James and his difficult position of being gay and on the fast track to Kingship. His duty to his people, his family, his country, his church weigh so heavily upon him that he’s always known that being openly gay would be almost an impossibility. Even though his country has recently adopted marriage equity laws that would open the way for gay marriage and less discrimination, his position as head of the church, especially for countries that still consider homosexuality a crime, forces him to hide his sexual orientation. And his last relationship, 3 years earlier with a man he thought he could trust was a disaster. He was blackmailed and it could have gone on for years if the man in question hadn’t been killed in an accident (ironically, with the motorbike he’d purchased from the blackmail money). As a result, James is very very wary of trusting anyone, and his one evening with Ben back in Kenya could have been his ruin if anyone had found out. James definitely comes across as one of the good guys, worthy to be a king. He is genuinely concerned about his role as Prince of Wales, and the people around him. Plus, he’s a handsome, generous man.
Ben was a really likable character as well. Though he is out of the closet, he’s had his share of difficulties in his upbringing and in a past relationship where he was taken advantage of. He’s learned not to settle down in one place, and enjoys the journalistic assignments that send him all over the world. He doesn’t trust easily either, but on meeting James and discovering how compatible they are in the bedroom, he is willing to let down his guard, at least a little. The situation with James is perfect for him. It doesn’t require commitment since James must keep things secret, and as such he is able to let himself enjoy their times together. The sex scenes are super hot, but emotional as well as James and Ben start to fall for each other. Both men are equal partners in their sexual relationship and explore their boundaries with each other in some fun and exciting ways. In this regard, for a first time m/m romance from this author, I thought she acquitted herself very well. I totally believed in the possibility of this relationship.
The plot and the set up of this story were really interesting and the author does a good job of taking us ‘behind the scenes’ to several royal properties and the difficulties inherent in conducting a secret affair in such public places with so many people constantly about. James has his own living quarters that are private, and a trusted right hand man who has been with him since childhood and will do James bidding no questions asked. I found the story to be pretty intense, waiting to see if they would slip up in some fashion and be found out. There are some heartbreaking moments as James deals with the realities of a mentally ill sister, and with the choices he must make. As promised, there is a happy for now ending (no cliffhanger!) but the story is definitely not finished – His Royal Favorite will be released in August 2016 and will conclude the duology of James and Ben’s romance. I look forward to continuing their story!
July 19 2016 | Intermix | His Royal Secret #1
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…