His Royal Favorite picks up immediately after the first book in the duology, His Royal Secret, and so this review will spoil some of the ending of the first book. They should definitely be read in order.
Now that James has made the decision to come out, with Ben as his partner by his side, both of the men’s lives are about to change forever. James will be the first openly gay future king and must face telling the world, while Ben’s whole life is changing from one of anonimity to one where his every move is scrutinized and reported upon. In addition, their once private, secret affair is now open for public attention. No longer do they have their quiet little world together; instead their relationship is now out in the open as they face real life under the spotlight.
Ben and James love each other fiercely and their feelings for each other remain strong. But the constant media attention is stressful for Ben. Every facet of his life is examined and reporters hound his every move. Going to work has become virtually impossible and every detail of his past seems to be fair game. For his part, James faces challenges to his throne and constant worry that the pressure will become too much for Ben to handle. Now that their secret is out, Ben and James face challenges that test their relationship and their future together.
After reading and loving His Royal Secret, I couldn’t wait for the resolution of the story in His Royal Favorite. We knew Ben and James would face hurdles and in this book we see the reality of their decision play out. Some things, like questions about James’ suitability for the throne were to be expected. Others however, like Ben’s difficulty doing his job, or the hard time he has with the public spotlight, were not as easily anticipated. One area I particularly found interesting was Ben dealing with seeing the “public” James for the first time. These guys spent virtually all their time hidden away, so although Ben saw James in his official capacity from afar, he never dealt with the dichtomy of private James versus the public face he puts on. James has learned to move between these two roles, but for Ben it is much more jarring. So I found that to be a really interesting aspect to the story.
Another area I thought was handled quite well was a side conflict with James’ sister, Indigo. We learned in the first book that she suffers from severe anxiety and has tendencies toward self harm, and here we see things come to a boiling point. I think the issue of Indigo’s mental health is handled really well in general, but in particular it also draws some interesting parallels with James. We can see how the royal family puts such a premium on the separation of their private selves and public face. Even though Indigo is sick and in need of care, they don’t want to do anything that affects her public image and so instead leave her struggling for years. Throughout the book we see James (and Ben through James) struggle with that duality of the person he really is and the face the public sees. So the side story creates a nice parallel, as well as a way to really show James stand up for Indigo and risk angering his family in order to help her.
I’ll admit, I am not always a fan of second books that take a previously established couple and puts roadblocks ahead to shake them back up. I tend to prefer external conflicts with my established pairs and at times I struggled somewhat seeing these guys go back and forth as Ben tries to figure out if he can live the way he must to be with James. The plot of this book really comes down to Ben determining if he can live this life with James and so things don’t really move in a straight line, but rather a lot of back and forth. That said, I really love these characters and Pace does an excellent job of really delving into these guys as they work through the situation.
So this is a real wonderful conclusion to the first story and I really loved them. James and Ben remain a great couple and I appreciated that even in their struggles they remain steadfastly in love. I adored the detailed look inside royal life and the way Pace explores the darker side of all that fame and power. And I loved the way the story kept me guessing as to how it would all resolve. So overall I adored these two books and would highly recommend them.: