Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Well, you know how we Americans are. Rebelling against the crown since 1776.”
Crown Prince Colin Sinclair and his royal siblings are forced to flee to to the United States after a coup in their country results in the assignation of their parents. Settling in Charlotte, NC Colin becomes the official caregiver with some help from friend. When their cover is blown and plastered all over the tabloids for the world to see, their country offers Colin a deal. Marry a princess of their choosing and the Sinclair family will be allowed to return home. But Colin is tired of being at the mercy of his country’s government. Taking matters into his own hands, he proposes marriage to the one person who has held his heart for ten years.
Della Hughes may have met the Sinclairs under less than happy circumstances but over the years she has grown to love them all, especially the oldest, Colin. Della doesn’t believe in fairy tales or happily ever afters but when she learns her prince charming is REALLY a prince, she is shocked. Willing to do anything for this family, Della agrees to a marriage of convenience but when the honeymoon goes from fake to real, Della isn’t sure she can walk away at the end, Or if she even wants too.
Royal Scandal is the first book in Marquita Valentine’s Royals in Exile series. Set in the US and the Isle of Man (a real country-part of the British Crown), the story revolves around the Sinclair family and their fight to regain their heritage. I’ve been enjoying the new trend of royals falling for commoners romances that have been trending the last few months. It is for me the ultimate modern fairytale. Lightweight and humorous, this friends to lovers romance is relatively low in angst and conflict with a surprisingly bite of heat. Valentine focuses on Colin’s and Della’s romance foremost but effortlessly blends in the history of happened to their parents and the cause while advancing each sibling’s story to prepare them for their own stories.
The story opens with Colin and his brother Theo trying to console their colicky youngest brother. Valentine gives us the bare bones of what is happening and sets the stage for the romance to come. When one of the family bodyguards informs them they have a visitor, Colin is shocked by a gorgeous and bold young woman demanding to know why her family is being evicted from their home. Colin realizes that his family’s need for privacy is forcing the caretakers out onto the streets. He let them stay and gains a friend in the process. Della Hughes. The book then jumps forward ten years in time which dismayed me a little. We are told of the depth of the friendship Della and Colin holds and everything she has done for the family but I would have enjoyed seeing some of it play out. Della essentially adopts the role of “mother” to the babies and helps Colin with the older ones during that time.
I liked Colin and Della. In fact, I liked all the siblings. Each one is individually fleshed out and Valentine makes sure we see their differences and the possible snags that may hamper their futures. Colin is the oldest and he takes his responsibility seriously. Exiled at age nineteen, he assumes the parental role over all of them (Theo- age seventeen and the twins, Charlotte and Imogen-age fourteen) though the ones that depend on him most are the two youngest Sinclairs. Aiden, age fifteen months and Pierce, age four months who are some seriously cute kids. Though fashioned somewhat as plot devices, Valentine characterizes them in a way that you instantly forgive her. Colin is seriously overwhelmed but I liked that he isn’t portrayed as a martyr. He has fallen for Della hard but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. Especially since his future remains uncertain and he has not been completely honest with her about who he really is. Intelligent, understated, loyal, and funny with sexy dominant side that comes out later on.
“Do be a good girl and sit very still while I wash you.”
He tweaks a nipple and desire makes me whimper.
“That’s yes, your highness.”
Della is his perfect match. Also smart, sexy, loyal, and funny, she gives as good as she get and isn’t one to play games. The chemistry is sweet and steamy with some nicely done longing and sexy internal thoughts. The added bonus of their history together only adds to the overall appeal. She too fell for Colin years ago but feels he only sees her as a friend. I love the relationship she has with Colin and his family. It has a separate quality to it that didn’t seem dependant on the attraction between her and Colin.
The marriage is the pivot of the story and its pacing increases two-fold. This couple does a rapid about-face, going from platonic and willing to suffer in silence for their love to full frontal lust filled mattress dancing. While Valentine expands on the romance, she also expands on the somewhat machiavellian plot behind the family’s exile. The two storylines start out running parallel and slowly begin to intertwine. I enjoyed watching Colin and Della’s love for one another truly blossom and grow once they got out of each other’s way and the political machinations were interesting. Unfortunately, the storylines begin to compete against each other. I felt the seriousness of exile plotline cast a small shadow over the romance.
I also had an issue with Colin’s omission of some important details. Some things he remained tight-lipped about for too long while others he allowed Della to make her own assumptions about, knowing when she found out she’d be furious. And she was. I think she deserved a bit more groveling and explanation on his end though overall his reasons were understandable.
The ending gives Colin and Della the happily ever after they both deserve and a nice little epilogue to clue us into the next Sinclair sibling’s story.
Royal Scandals is altogether a royally fun and flirty romance that engages and satisfies despite the few issues I encountered. I am looking forward to the next in the series, Royal Affair, which is set to release March 7, 2017.