REAL QUICK I NEED TO TALK TO THOSE OF YOU WHO THINK GAY ROMANCE NOVELS ARE NOT FOR YOU. I hear you, but hear me. If you think gay romance is not your thing, if you’ve given it a try and not been impressed, this might be the novel that changes your mind. Trust me – I’ve read a LOT of M/M romance. His Royal Secret is a PERFECT gateway love story for those of you who think you don’t need or want a gay gateway. So keep reading this review, then read the author interview, then download it, then get back to me because I have more recs, ok? OK. Back to the post …
The thing is, for all the great gay romance out there, you have to wade through a lot of tropes, a lot of improbable obstacles, a lot of uncomfortably written sex to get to the good ones. It’s not because gay romance is not as good as mainstream romance novels; it’s just a matter of availability and ratios. There aren’t as many gay romances out there.
So when you find one that hits all the right buttons: great characters, believable conflict, relatable humor, hot sex scenes, reasonable angst, and gorgeous declarations of love, IT IS SOMETHING TO CAPSLOCK ABOUT.
And that’s what Lilah Pace’s new duology, His Royal Secret is … A SHOUTY CAPS GAY ROMANCE. Why? Gay.British.Royal.Prince.
James is the handsome and worldly Prince of Wales, heir to the throne that his grandfather has held for decades but is steadily creeping closer to being his … only, he’s harboring a secret he’s sure he can never reveal. The Prince of Wales is a gay man.
Is that a closet story or WHAT? Can you imagine … a young 20-something heir to the throne and the figurehead of the Anglican Church who is afraid the British people would never accept him as king if he tells the truth about who he is??? What would a young prince do in that situation? Get a beard? You betcha. Flagellate himself for being cowardly? Sure. Have sex with a stranger who intrigues him over a game of chess one afternoon in rainy Kenya? NO? OH YES HE WOULD.
That’s where The Royal Secret begins. But it is most definitely not where it ends. James begins an affair with Ben, a nomadic business reporter that he meets on a diplomatic visit to Africa. Ben is the last person in the world to care about the royals, and he despises entanglements that tie him down. So his understanding with James (which include very hot clandestine sex romps at Clarence House complete with landline rendezvous and secret codes) works perfectly. Of course there will be no expectations from the deeply closeted future king of England.
Until there are.
I got the chance to read the entire duology this summer before they came out, and these books were so good I read them twice. So good in fact, I had to ask author Lilah Pace just a few questions about writing them.
Interview with author, Lilah Pace
TN: M/M romance has been on the upswing of mainstream romance for awhile now. I love it, and wonder … what drew you to it?
LP: I’ve long been a fan. While I can’t remember specifically the first m/m romance I read, I remember being struck by how different it wasn’t. The love story captivated me just the same. Of course, it gives the reader the chance to fall in love with two guys instead of just one, which is also nice!
TN: The trope of the recognizable guy who can’t come out because of X is well-used in m/m romance, but you took it to the nth level: the Prince of Wales, future King and Head of the Anglican Church. What came first: the impossible closet case or the way he would bust out of it?
LP: This arose first as a hypothetical scenario for real life. Some British politician, arguing against gay marriage (still illegal in the UK at the time—this was a few years ago), asked what would happen if some future queen were a lesbian and wanted to marry her life partner and have a child via IVF. And I thought, What if the future queen’s a lesbian, full stop? Would the United Kingdom really deny the head of state the right to marry like anyone else? And then I started wondering about the implications in the real world. The idea of having fictional characters live through this dilemma came last.
TN: One of the most compelling aspects of this story is the way you captured the claustrophobia of the Royals’ limelighted life. What kind of research did you do into the British monarchy’s inner workings?
LP: Might as well confess—I’ve been a royalty-watcher for a long while now. I’m neither a severe critic nor a slavish fan; it’s just intriguing, the way they lead these lives that are modern and privileged yet simultaneously old-fashioned and limited. I once lived in Great Britain, so I’d soaked up a little there. When I got started on the story of James and Ben, though, I did do a lot of extra research and reading. The best was a book called NOT IN FRONT OF THE CORGIS, which is made up of interviews with former servants in the palaces; it’s neither a fawning fan publication nor a grubby tell-all—instead it’s just some real talk about what the royals have done for them and how they act about it. Some friends currently living in the UK sent me a ton of tabloids, too, so I could get those “voices” right.
TN: You made Ben fall in love with the Prince of Wales despite being a journalist, the natural enemy of the British monarchy. Do you like to torture your characters? 🙂
LP: Let’s face it—I do. But what mattered most for Ben was making his desire to remain unconnected feel real and three-dimensional. The “guy who won’t be tied down” is a trope—and for a good reason, we love it!—but I wanted to give Ben a very specific backstory that would explain why he had these attitudes. In many ways Ben’s much more damaged than he lets himself understand.
TN: What’s next for Ben and James?
LP: The media spotlight’s about to focus on them with a heat and intensity neither of them has ever experienced before—and on a scale Ben never dreamed could exist. But the ultimate test of their relationship doesn’t come from the press; it comes from within.
I can tell you what’s next for Ben and James … His Royal Favorite is out next week on August 16th! You can get their whole story sooner than you think. Trust me, His Royal Secret ends on a wonderful Happy For Now, but you will need to find out where it goes. James doesn’t give Ben the chance to stay still for long.
Thank you, Lilah, for graciously answering all our questions about Ben and James. We can’t wait to see what else you have in store!