Dirty Halo by Evie East
Forbidden Royals Trilogy, #1
August 8, 2018
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: “He realized he was about to lose you and he flipped out.” “Yes —lose me as a friend.” “A friend he wants to bend over and f–k to kingdom come, perhaps.” “Chloe!” “What? Don’t be such a prude.”
Where the hell has Evie East been all my romance reading life? I soo thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Billed as a forbidden royal romance full of Machiavellian intrigue and murderous plots, Dirty Halo surpassed my every expectation. From the first page, it felt like a living breathing, thing I’d stumbled upon. As I read along, the story compelled avid visualization as each scene was so freaking tangible. How is this not already a smash cable television series? I’d maim things to see this as a Netflix Original series. I can hear the haunting, thrumming theme song already. Move over Game of Thrones, there is a new story of royal factions and a throne to kill for!
Bastard daughter of a second-born duke, Emilia Lancaster has spent her life as the royal family’s dirty little secret. Shunned from both the palace and the public eye, for twenty years she’s lived as a commoner… despite the regal blood running through her veins.
But when the entire royal family is killed in a deadly attack, the line of succession swiftly changes course. With her ailing father appointed king and no legitimate heirs in sight, Emilia is pulled from the shadows and thrust into a destiny she never wanted.
If this were a fairy tale, the palace would be paradise. In reality, with a father she barely knows on the throne, a deadly assassin still on the loose, and enemies around every gilded corridor corner — the callous, captivating Lord Carter Thorne chief among them — it feels more like a prison to Emilia. One filled with unattainable expectations, unfamiliar customs, and undesirable suitors.
They want her to behave like a good little girl.
They want her to put on her glittering crown and keep her mouth shut.
They’re about to be disappointed.
She may have agreed to be their princess…
But she’s no one’s puppet.
Because she’s Khalessi biiiitch!!! *battle cries, bangs things*
Not to distract with or draw too many GOT references, because really, Dirty Halo is totally and truly it’s own thing and the parallels are beyond few, but Emilia is not the princess to eff with! Living a humble life as a commoner and knowing the goodness and love of her mother, gave her a solid foundation and strength of character that serves her well as she navigates her new life in the cutthroat monarchy as a royal heir apparent. Emilia longs to resume her old life as a university student, hanging with her best friend, Owen, and living life without the pressures of the crown grudgingly assimilating to what is expected of her as a princess…Only her old life doesn’t include getting to know her long lost biological father. And besides school, quiet anonymity and Owen, her old life also comes complete with a hefty debt to the the tune of one hundred thousand dollars waiting for her. So the bargain she strikes with her soon to be crowned father? Give it a trial period, see if she can stomach life as a princess or if abdicating her birth right is the right choice for her. A choice, which isn’t truly a choice at all, because deep down, in recesses of her soul she doesn’t want to analyze too closely, Emilia is curious about what her new life could entail. Attending Princess lessons, learning from her father and thwarting her truly, truly evil step mother can’t be all that bad, especially when she can do it all and explore why she’s so curiously drawn to her (sexy!) step brother, Carter, the mesmerizing thorn in her side. I decided early on that Carter is so damn magnetic that his technical step brother status means nothing to me.
“Hold your horses, Chl—Oh!” My throat convulses as I pull open the door and find myself face to face with Carter, looking utterly incredible in a black suit that hugs every plane of his sculpted body. Holy fuck.
“You’re not Chloe,” I breathe stupidly, unable to tear my eyes away from him.
“No,” he murmurs in a tight voice. “I’m not.”
I nearly stumble back when I see the dangerous heat burning in his eyes. He drinks me in, inch by inch, his gaze dragging slowly up the length of my body from the black stilettos on my feet to the fitted curves of my dress to the dark brown curls falling around my shoulders in an elegant half-up style.
“You look…” he trails off, jaw clenching tight.
“Different?” I supply. “It’s the hair.” A muscle jumps in his cheek.
“Trust me. It’s not the hair.”
My fingers grip my clutch purse so hard, I worry I’ll snap the clasp as Carter takes a step toward me, closing a sliver of the distance between us. My breath catches, watching his hand lift to gently take one of my curls between his index finger and his thumb —just as he did the first night we met. I stop breathing altogether as his fingers slide down, stretching the lock to its full length. It’s the most erotic touch of my life, and I can’t even feel it.
“What are you doing?” I ask breathlessly. His eyes flicker to mine, molten with banked heat. His mouth opens, he leans in…
“Hey!” We both flinch back at the sound of Chloe’s voice. My eyes drop to the hallway floor. Carter clears his throat roughly, turning away from me. “Let’s go, you two!” she calls from the top of the grand staircase, gesturing madly. “The limos are waiting outside. Don’t worry —I already made sure we aren’t riding with Linus and Octavia.”
“Thank god for small miracles,” I murmur, looking anywhere but at Carter.
M-E-A-N-S N-O-T-H-I-N-G T-O M-E! *swoon*
Ahem. What I admired most about Dirty Halo was how each character from the sick King, to the reluctant Princess, to the smoldering Lord and troubled Lady to the embittered friend and on down to the castle servants, everyone was painted and characterized in such vivid color. Everyone had purpose and multi dimensions and I was practically giddy reading each of their scenes, often (and admittedly cheesily) closing my eyes to see them bring the story to life. I loved that Emilia had a real life and real life experiences. I appreciated how she stumbled at first and truly had to learn to navigate the viperous monarchy, especially in light of the danger threatening her station and family.
Seriously, who do I have to harass (mercilessly) to get this the big/small screen attention we deserve. Think The Crown, The Tudors, Reign, The Borgias, The White Queen/Princess, gawd dammit the possibilities! We DESERVE!
The plots! The betrayals! The intrigue! The sexual tension, the requited and unrequited love! Honor vs dishonor and the humanity weaved between it ALL! I couldn’t put it down and I’m counting the days (20!) until book two is released (Sept 18th!) because the cliffie is heartstaking! (Yes staking- I felt as if I’d been staked clean through the ticker at the ending). The end (damn cliffie) while not entirely unpredictable, it was life altering and game changing for Emilia and I had a visceral reaction nevertheless.) As a matter of fact, that would be my sole criticism of Dirty Halo, the events were not terribly surprising, the twists didn’t shock, but the material and quality of story telling most definitely awed. I wanted to grab a gown & tiara and insert myself all over this story! I love when I feel so connected and invested in a novel. *sigh*
If you like royal romance tinged in darkness and suspense, this is definitely your cup of tea. Dirty Halo is set in contemporary times, (I might have climaxed all over this review if it had a historical twist, because then, and only then could it have been any better, because I am the whoriest little historical romance feign this side of the western hemisphere), and has some pop references that drives home the idea of the circumstances and times the characters contend with throughout the novel.
It is the first in the series and I can only imagine things get bloodier (there is a murderous assassin on the loose after-all) and sexier as the series progresses and I’m ALL in!
If you’ve read or plan to read Dirty Halo let me know what you think, I need to gush, vent, squee and THISISSOCOOL with someone asap!
Dirty Halo is currently a Kindle sale price of $1.99