Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
August 17, 2021, by Avon
This book is the epitome of the grumpy/sunshine trope, I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything that could encapsulate it more. Every book I read by Lucy Parker I think okay, *this one* is my favorite, she can’t top it…and then I love the next one more? I don’t know how she does it.
Let me just list all the reasons you should read this book!
- The Baking Show – Operation Cake is a competition reality show that first Sylvia is a competitor on, and then, fast forward a few years, voila, she is successful enough to become a judge on the show. I loved this aspect of the book because it bakes (ha!) in fun side characters that we get to see throughout the book, along with dramatic challenges that keep us wondering if they’ll be able to pull off.
- A Royal Challenge – a secondary challenge unexpectedly arises when Princess Rose is getting married. As in a literal Princess! Dominic and Sylvia end up being the last two in the running for this huge honor and the amount of emotion Lucy Parker is able to pack in the smallest detail is amazing to me.
- The Royal pair who are engaged challenge the two to come up with a design they will both love, and whoever proves to have the better design will be the one to get the business. This essentially leads them on a scavenger hunt that brings Dominic and Sylvia closer and closer together. The vulnerability Dominic reveals slowly through the cracks of his armor is just at this achingly perfect pace throughout the book. With Dom and Sylvia doing both the reality show and the wedding cake together there is a very delicate balance to achieve and Lucy Parker masters it.
- One note about the royalty aspect – this is not the main plot of the book, it’s a background subplot and as such I was more easily able to be okay that there was no dealing with colonialism or racism. This royal family is not meant to be a stand-in for the current one. YMMV on this.
- The baking! Holy crap, for the most part I don’t care about food in books but wow did l love the baking here. I have a hard time visualizing things in books a lot of times but I watch a ton of baking shows. So I loved the idea of the contrast between the styles of Dominic and Sylvia. Dom is very much the staid, elegant, white look and Sylvia loves color and glitter and FUN. I swear I have seen these two compete before on cooking shows. The descriptions that were included were amazing and I wish the book came with an insert so I could actually see these creations.
- Sylvia’s store was so fun and I wanted to SEE everything. I also was imagining sort of a GBBO-esque drawing of everything. But not only was the baking fun, it really added so much to the story. The two connected over it and in the researching for the wedding design and looking for secret ingredients – I love how it was integrated into the plot and moved things along. This book got all of these details so exactly right and I just wish that I could visualize things better.
- The side characters. They are just so wonderful. Pet, Dominic’s younger sister just tore at my heart. Lucy has that romance author knack of writing side characters that linger in reader’s minds. Reading about Pet immediately made me think of another younger sister she wrote a few years ago I still would love a book about lol! Pet just wants a relationship with Dominic and he doesn’t really get why, not because he doesn’t want one, but because he feels that he failed her in the past so he assumes she should not want one. Their dynamic was so touching throughout and the development of their story was probably my favorite thing after the romance.
- The royal couple had their own arc that was romantic and I love how much Lucy can make me care about the background couples. There is a secondary couple as well but I don’t want to give that one away.
- There’s a friendship/workplace arc with Sylvia and her BFF. All of those are fully developed just humming along underneath the main plot.
- The emphasis on found family. I love that this is a theme throughout the book and that it’s returned to again and again. And with the emphasis it’s also reiterated that being related is not the everything of being family. This is key to many of the relationships and it’s underlined and italicized in multiple ways.
And all of the above is what I love about Lucy Parker’s writing – all of those threads were carefully interwoven and I never felt like any of them were lacking in any way. She has a knack for balancing everything and wrapping everything up in such a satisfying way. I was emotional throughout the book – as both Sylvia and Dominic are dealing with some grief and emotional trauma from their past. There is an emotional weight to the book, even while it’s so joyful. I just loved everything about this book.
Content Notes: grief, past deaths, childhood abandonment
Grade: A +