Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I wouldn’t have accosted your bonnet if it hadn’t so vilely accosted my eyes and my male sensibilities. “
Stephen Parker-Roth is a playboy, hence his nickname-the King Of Hearts. He is no hurry to marry (his older brother has an heir) so he spends his time drinking, playing cards, and generally having fun. After a normal night of debauchery, he stumbles home through the park only to be accosted by a furry little man. Oh wait-that’s a dog. As Stephen is flailing in the mud, along comes the owner of the dog-Lady Anne Marston. Lady Anne has no need for marriage or men. Raising her younger siblings while her parents gallivant around the world, all she wants is for her younger sister to have a proper season, then go back to the country.
When she and Stephen are caught in up in a comedy of errors that results in the biggest gossip in London seeing them kiss, Stephen announces to everyone that Lady Anne is his fiancée. Soon, Stephen takes the entire Marston family in hand and leads them on a merry chase through London as he tries to make his engagement to Lady Anne a real one.
This is my first time reading Sally MacKenzie but I guarantee it won’t be my last. The Naked King is an absurd, funny, romantic, historical romp composed of eccentric characters, outlandish behavior, and over the top circumstances that had me giggling from page one. This was a “fun” read-not to be taken seriously book. Sweet romance blends perfectly with a bit of mystery. Watching Stephen and Anne fall in love is wonderfully romantic and humorous. Stephen is outrageous in his antics and once he makes up his mind that he’s keeping Anne he steps it up to hysterical. Stephen is sweet, funny, handsome, and VERY “touchy feely”. He doesn’t dictate to Lady Anne but rather herds her gently into what he wants her to do. Lady Anne feels lost around Stephen and it’s very funny watching her try to figure out how he gets manipulated by her.
Lady Anne has always been referred to as the smart one while everyone exclaims the beauty of her sister. She cannot not believe Stephen actually wants her so she never takes his declarations seriously. Her secret from the past severely limits her marriageable state and causes a great deal of misconception. She agrees reluctantly to Stephen’s plan to stay “engaged” until the end of the season so that her sister won’t be touched by scandal. But Stephen is everything she would have wanted in a husband and she finds herself falling slowly in love with him. Parts of me felt sorry for Anne because of what happened to her but a part of me just wanted her to tell him already. I found it hard to believe that she never told a single soul.
The dialogue running rapid through the book will have you in stitches as everyone has an opinion and advice. POVs switch frequently so you can get a little lost but that just makes it better. Wonderful nosey secondary characters keeps the story going at a steady pace and provides plenty of silly scenes. Ms. MacKenzie does take a while for Anne and Stephen to get to the main conflict and it shows as the story stalls here and there. We spend a bit too much time with them conversing seriously and not getting anywhere as Anne tries to work up the nerve to tell Stephan her secret. Our villain is a pathetic little man. I pictured him twirling his mustache as he cackles evilly. His comeuppance surprised me a little. I didn’t expect it to end quite as dark as it did.
All in all The Naked King is a delightfully silly historical romance that will provoke much laughter and eye rolling as you follow Stephan and Anne down the path of love.