Rating: 3.25 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Since the moment of his birth, Derek Carson’s power of invisibility has been the bane of his existence. You’d think living in a world where superpowers are common, Derek would have no trouble fitting in or finding guidance. Unfortunately, as Derek has no known connection to the royal families and only directly acknowledged decedents of royalty are “supposed” to have powers, Derek is in a class of underground citizens who have powers that are illegal for them to use. Moreover, Derek’s power is tied closely to his fears and anxiety, and as Derek is anxiety personified, he has little active control over his invisibility, creating a life of isolation and loneliness—until the night he saves Sam Jeffries.
While watching a tall, big guy bravely taking on three attackers, Derek forces himself to intervene when a gun comes into play. Not wanting to deal with the hassle of the police and the red tape around his powers (especially since he can’t calm himself enough to be visible), Derek takes the stranger to his home to clean him up and find out what’s going on. Derek quickly learns that Sam’s compassionate heart and protective streak is as large as his body, and soon finds himself swooning over the beautiful, flirtatious man. He downright melts when Sam finds Derek’s invisibility delightful rather than annoying. Soon, the two are rushing headlong into love, and despite Derek’s perceived limitations, he is hopeful. Getting caught in the crosshairs of a conspiracy and kidnapping is something even Derek’s obsessively pessimistic brain hadn’t conjured up, and the situation will test him and Sam in various ways.
I chose The Hero and the Hidden Royal for Self Published Book Week of our Reading Challenge Month because I found the idea of having a caste system that incorporates superpower usage into its power structure, as well as a character dealing with a power they can’t control or hide intriguing. How someone learns to live with being almost constantly invisible because they are basically afraid at all times, and how/what they would do to manage or overcome this seems like it would be a fascinating character journey. The Hero and the Hidden Royal is not that story; it’s a cute, fluffy, insta-lust/love romance where one MC’s personality trait is almost solely comprised of his anxiety and the other by his heedless savior complex.
As the second book in the shared world of the multi-author Royal Powers series, it works well as a standalone, and frankly, benefits from its fantastic premise since it makes a pretty simplistic romance about an anxious/borderline obsessive man unique. Unfortunately, as Derek’s power keeps him from being comfortable exploring and living in his world, the reader is kept from exploring it much as well. As Derek works for the Ministry of Powers (the government agency tasked with monitoring the use of superpowers and prosecuting illegal occurrences), Derek is an archivist who works alone, so the reader is given only a glimpse as to what the agency does, how it performs its duties, how/why these people aren’t supposed to exist (since genetics aren’t really a thing here apparently), and how the existence of non-royals with powers can even be kept a secret considering there are A LOT of these people populating the story.
However, while I might have wanted to know more (such as if powers are common and it’s necessary to hide non-royal power-bearers, why are there no resources to help Derek’s parents deal with an invisible child, especially since his birth would have been documented from day one by the Ministry?), none of that is relevant to the story outside of Derek’s job and a historical mystery he uncovers. The story is focused on Derek, and is told with a light, airy, Disney fairy tale-ish tone. I especially found the beginning comedic, whimsical, and delightful as it covers Derek’s upbringing. How quickly Derek falls for Sam is sadly believable, as he has no real friends (even among coworkers who seem to like him) and allusions to his sparse dating history hint at bad/hurtful endings for him. Since Derek is so sweet and Sam so positively upbeat and game for anything, their swift courtship (and Derek’s extreme desperation to get Sam to bone him) fit the tone of the story. I just wished there was a little more to the characters themselves. For although Derek is a bit more fleshed out than Sam, they’re both somewhat one-dimensional, functioning more as contrasting archetypes rather than fully fledged characters.
Additionally, had the story stuck to the fluff or executed the kidnapping better, I might have enjoyed it more. Said kidnapping doesn’t occur until most of the way in, isn’t connected to the one interesting plot line that made a kidnapping seem at least plausible, and is as quickly wrapped up as one would expect given the limited narrative space left. And I hate to say it, but the bad guy dialogue is so painful and trite, it made me REALLY wish the kidnapping hadn’t happened. I’ve never seen the word “ape” written so many times when not reading about primates (or a 4chan post). Moreover, while this event seems set up to provide growth/self-actualization for Derek, it lands pretty flat as Derek doesn’t grow or begin to believe in himself more. Instead, he embraces “damsel” mode wholeheartedly, choosing to believe in being rescued by his knight in shining armor rather than himself. The only thing Derek doesn’t do is sing “Some Day My Prince Will Come.”
That being said, Derek’s mother’s involvement in the rescue brings back some of the fun and charm from the beginning, and the ending hands off the continuing thread to the next book in the series without a cliffhanger. Overall, The Hero and the Hidden Royal is a frothy, quick, and amusing enough read, and will probably be enjoyed most by those who’s catnip involves insta-love, cute, self-deprecating virgins, and physically imposing good guys who are protective teddy bears.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of ten HUGE prize bundles donated by some fabulous self published authors (you can see the full prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Self Published Book Week here.
Jovan, thank you for your review.
I wasn’t expecting tons of depth and I found it to be a sweet, fluffy story, which was what I was looking for.
Mmm, not one I would naturally go for anyway but don’t think I’ll be investigating this series
Thank you for the review. With that premise I would have liked more worldbuilding.
I do so appreciate a good rendition of “Some Day My Prince Will Come”; I’m sorry to hear this book is lacking that! Thanks for your comprehensive review, Jovan.
This is a very enjoyable series, although I liked some of the installments more than others
This review made me laugh a lot. Thank you! I may put this on my TBR with a note to read when I want something super light (and quick?) to read
Oh, it’s a really quick read in both pacing and page number. I’m glad you liked the review; I try not to snark much but my eye-rolling sometimes finds itself on the page 😉
Perhaps it would have worked better with fewer balls to keep in the air (so to speak)?
Definitely, Trix. The kidnapping did not need to happen; it pops up at 80% in the story and doesn’t do much for either character. I also think it’s just my own fault as I’m a supernerd and get overly geeked about cool concepts while other people just want to right their fun story in this cool background.
Thank you for the review.
While some of the characteristics of the mostly invisible character are unusual ,I think I’ll try another story.Thankyou for reviewing The Hero and the Hidden Royal.
This series really caught my attention, and I’ve read some of them (in fact, one of them as part of me joining this week’s challenge). The premise is great, but the books are pretty irregular in the delivery. I have to recognise I did not enjoy all of them. So I’ll pass on this one…
Thank you for the review, Jovan
Thank you for the review! I find the premise of this really interesting and definitely something that I might enjoy, but it sounds like the execution is somewhat lacking, so I’m unsure if I’ll give this one a try.
If you’re just looking for a fun, quick story with a shy sweetie (and don’t think about how getting help for his anxiety is never mentioned), then you might like it. It’s just one of those books where the world they offer in the premise doesn’t get seen much outside of this one, isolated character’s problem living in that world.
Thanks for the review! Don’t think I’d read this one, as I’ve read too many superpower/magic books recently, but the cover looks pretty good.
The covers for this whole series are really great. They did a nice job tying together a theme across the series, but also making them each unique.
I really liked the covers for this series, too. Between the blurb and the cover, it was a must read when I saw it.
That was such a good written review! Thank you!
Interesting premise, and hearing that it’s such a light, fluffy read as well. I haven’t read this author’s work before, so I’ll be checking out this series.
I’ve seen this series floating around in the world, but haven’t actually read any of it. I do want to try reading books from the series, but I am bummed that this one, at least, lacks in world building info and has characters that are so flat. I will probably still read it as part of the series when I get there but at least I have been warned about the simplicity of it. Thanks.
So much fun appears to be built into this story! I can’t wait to see how the characters, especially the royal, deal with the problems.
Yeah, I’m interested in reading one of the stories with the Royals now to see how they navigate in the world being allowed and encouraged to use their powers.
Try Duking it Out by E.J. Russell. It was the first fine I read and one of the best reviewed here on the blog overall. It features two royals who are shipwrecked. https://joyfullyjay.com/2020/07/review-duking-it-out-by-e-j-russell/
I was looking forward to reading this one when I’m ready for a quick fun, fluffy read. I think I’ll still give it a go and just be prepared for the odd kidnapping plot issue. Being forewarned will definitely lessen it’s impact when I get to that part.
Plus the kidnapping happens so late, if you know about it you can just roll with the funny parts and keep it moving.
This sounds so wonderfully fluffy, which is just what I need this year! Thank you for the review, which will let me know where to focus my attention as I read (and to know what to give a pass to)