I picked this book up (I’m pretty sure from BookBub) for free sometime recently. I’m not surprised, honestly. Some of these books I look at the cover and I have no memory of the plot summary or why I decided it was a good idea to get it. I really do try not to just download every free book; it’s really got to catch my attention at this point to win a place on the Kindle.
Not ROYAL. For whatever reason, this one stuck with me. (For whatever reason. C’mon, Rion. Don’t kid yourself.)
Bad boys with hearts of gold are a personal weakness. I have a fascination with taboo/unrequited/impossible loves. (Look at 90% of all of my writing.) So the story of Demi Rosewood and Royal Lockhart was everything I could have asked for. Royal, raised as an honorary Rosewood, was everything Demi had ever wanted. He was her first kiss, her first love, the one she was sure would be her one and only. When Royal vanishes one day without any notice, and her family refuses to even speak of him anymore, Demi’s life crumbles under her feet. She’s spent the past seven years following Royal’s departure desperately trying to move on; she’s gotten engaged to someone, started building a life…started hoping the Royal-sized hole in her heart might eventually fill.
And then Royal shows back up. And Demi hasn’t moved on nearly as much as she thought she had.
First things first – I love those names. I’ve always been a huge fan of names, and recently I’ve found either books with boring standard names, or incredibly odd ones. (I’m looking at you, Treat Braden.) Royal walks that line nicely; it’s far from average but I can see someone actually naming their child that. I think Demi’s full name is a bit unfortunate, but it’s entirely believable–and that she’d go by Demi. (I also love the author’s name, but that’s neither here nor there.) Demi’s struggle is convincingly written, and I appreciate the first few bits where we see the lead-up to present day to explain the dynamic between her and Royal. The interpersonal dynamics of the Rosewood family are believably broken, a good balance of communication and bullheadedness. As for Royal…damn. Sympathetic bad boys are nothing new in the romance world, but ones as delicately nuanced as Royal certainly are. He’s soft without being weak, alpha without being domineering, broken without making himself out to be a sob story. Yes, he’s loyal to the point of obsession. He’d be the first to admit it, and he gets appropriately called out for it. And his personal plot line…lord. What a powerful series of scenes. (Also, on the subject of names, how perfectly named is Pandora? Ugh.)
Is it the most innovative and riveting plot? No, but it doesn’t need to be. There are plenty of moments I didn’t quite see coming (I saw something coming, just not the specifics) and it made me want to cheer on our hero and heroine. The book does wrap up quite neatly, but if Ms. Renshaw would like to write more involving Royal and Demi, I will be more than happy to read it. I do see that there are two more books in series with this one, featuring Derek and Delilah Rosewood, and I’m more than likely going to check those our. (Especially Derek’s. I’ve grown a bit of a soft spot for him through all of this. He–and Haven–deserve someone good.)
It doesn’t quite edge up to a 5-star rating, but know that it’s very close. It would have been very easy for this book to treat all of its various twists with much more of a light touch, and it wouldn’t have had nearly the impact it did. Renshaw is an admirable writer and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.
Rating: **** (Recommended)