Joe is stuck in an unhappy marriage, but thankfully he has a job he loves, though it also comes at a high price. Joe’s last assignment nearly cost him his life and tomorrow will be his first day back in the fold with a new royal to protect. Being a Close Protection Officer (CPO) is often just normal, even slightly boring, routine work, but once in a while someone decides to take a dislike to Joe’s charge and it’s then that he must use himself as a human shield to protect them. When Joe calls on his boss, Patrick, he is told he has been requested to protect the son of his last protectee—the one where he put himself between the client and the speeding car meant to hit them.
Apparently Alejandro Fuente-Sastre is a bit of problem, having gone through two other CPOs like water. Being out and proud means Alejo doesn’t pay any heed to the cyber stalker he has acquired, but the government has, hence Joe being detailed to protect the young royal. With Joe’s ties to the Alejo’s mother, he might have an edge in controlling Alejo, who is not happy with Joe’s arrival in his life. But the threats from the stalker are getting more and more serious and they must be stopped before Alejo is seriously hurt.
What Joe doesn’t know is that there is more to Alejo than meets the eye—a whole other persona. Alejo is also the drag queen, Paloma Picante, a beautiful woman who Joe just happens to have met before without even realizing it. Joe also has a secret, one that will mean exposing his real self to the world should he follow through on his attraction to Alejo, something Joe knows will also mean he can no longer be assigned to protect the man. With danger all around them and the risk of their tenuous relationship being found out, Joe and Alejo must keep all their wits about them if they are to survive.
The marvelous writing duo of Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead brings another novel to their growing library with The Reluctant Royal. This time, the tone of the story is far more serious than others I have read by this pair. Featuring a fast-paced action story, a quiet romance, hidden in order to keep the two men from being torn apart, and a shocking enemy revealed, this novel keeps one on their toes from beginning to end.
Just who is stalking Alejo online? What’s up with the abusive boyfriend that Alejo refuses to leave? Why isn’t Joe out of the closet? Is it because of work? Something in his past? Fear of reprisal? Can Joe and Alejo really manage to keep their growing affections under wraps until the stalker is brought down? So so many questions. With each chapter we get another glimpse at who could possibly be making threats towards Alejo online.
This story is an exciting ride. It truly kept me glued to the page and entertained. I fell in love with Joe; his kindness and loyalty makes him a true hero. Alejo is so much more than a bratty royal. He, too, is sensitive and just desperate to be loved for who he is—and Paloma is a big part of him as well. I was absolutely gob smacked when the antagonist is revealed; it’s a great ending to a twisting and ever escalating mystery.
The only thing that keeps me from giving this story a five star rating is the abrupt ending. While the final chapter is not listed as an epilogue, it has that feel to it and honestly, if it had been labeled as such, I think I may have been better prepared to accept the sudden wrap up. Instead, I felt like the story just stopped, with no real closure from the previous explosive reveal and heart-stopping action. Instead, it is a bit of a lame happy ever after moment that felt tacked on as an afterthought. That is so unusual for this writing team; normally they wrap things up quite well, but I feel this time they fell short of that goal.
Still, I must say that The Reluctant Royal is a great yarn that left me guessing right up to the end. I like the paring of Joe and Alejo—opposites attract may well be an understatement when it comes to these two characters, but still it works so well. I think fans of these writers will enjoy this new release, I know I certainly did.