Making a break from the crime picks of recent weeks, I’m going with a romance pick, because why not. I’ll get to that in a minute, but because I forgot to mention it yesterday, don’t forget to check out my rather belated summer reading post. And also coming up this week is another batch of recommendations – this time for non-fiction history books.
Anyway, Battle Royal is the first book in Lucy Parker’s new Palace Insiders series. Sylvie was a contestant on a TV baking show four years ago. Her glittery, whimsical aesthetic was a fan favourite, but she got voted off the show when a bake went spectacularly awry. Since the show she’s set up her own bakery and now she’s back – as a judge. Dominic was the only judge who wasn’t impressed with Sylvie when she was on the show, even before the mishap. He’s a brilliant baker but he’s also serious and stuffy. He already thought he saw too much of Sylvie, because her bakery is opposite his, but now they’re going to be judging the show together. And then Princess Rose’s engagement is announced. Dominic’s family bakery has been baking cakes for royalty for years and they’re the bookies’ favourite to make the wedding cake, but Sylvie and her team think they’re a better fit for the unconventional princess’s big day. Suddenly Sylvie and Dominic are competing on every front…
Lucy Parker writes the best enemies to lovers romances. I mean I’m not sure what else I need to say. She comes up with wonderful scenarios where the heroine and hero have genuine reasons to not like each other but then works it all out so the bit where they get together is just the most satisfying thing ever. This one does need to come with a content warning: there’s some child neglect and a whole lot of bereavement in the backstories of our leads. I was a weepy mess at several points (and I don’t think it was because I was over tired) but because of the sad pasts and memories not because either the hero or heroine had done something unspeakably awful if you know what I mean.
I treated myself to this on release day last week and it did exactly what I wanted it too. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it gave me a big sweeping romantic arc where the hero and heroine work out that they’re perfect for each other without any Stupid Misunderstandings or conflict that could have been solved with a simple conversation. They are competing against each other but they’re not sabotaging each other or bad mouthing each other or anything like that. It was just wonderful. Pretty much my only regret is that now I’ve read it I have to wait a year for the next one. And based on the bits of the next couple that you see in this, that’s going to be a corker soon.
This is the first in the series, so nothing to worry about there, but if you like this and you haven’t read any Lucy Parker before, do go back and read the London Celebrities series – if you like this sort of trope and these sort of characters then you’re in for a treat.
My copy of Battle Royal was from the Kindle store, but it’s also available on Kobo. Amazon are also listing a paperback, but I can’t see it on the Foyles or Waterstones websites, which would fit with my previous experience that you’re probably going to have to import a copy if you want a physical one. But the ebooks are reasonably priced, so don’t let that deter you!