Rating: 2.75 stars
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Length: Novella


Lieutenant Christian Diaz is returning home after ten years to take up the position of Royal Military Liaison for the royal family of Corazón, a small island kingdom. As a child, Christian was the best friend and protector to the crown prince, Sebastian, but an unpleasant incident and a falling out with his father had Christian leaving home. Now, though, he has a chance to make up for lost time, both in resuming his friendship with Sebastian, but also having another chance at the handsome Max Ramirez, head chef for the palace.

Max has always carried a torch for Christian, and the past ten years have been lonely ones. Throwing himself into his work, Max now runs the royal kitchens and is well liked by the royal family and his staff. The only thorn in his side is Christian’s father, who won’t take Max’s concerns to heart. Some months ago, a bottle of the king’s whiskey was tampered with, and his majesty might have been poisoned. Now, the cake for the Midsummer Ball has been the target of mischief. Someone is out to hurt the royal family, and it’s up to Max and Christian to stop them.

This story takes place in contemporary times, albeit set in the fantasy island of Corazón, and is the first entry in the Kingdom of Corazón series. Several couples are introduced, but the focus is on Max and Christian, a pair of star-crossed lovers who have their second chance at love.

Christian has a close, informal relationship with the royal family, having grown up as the crown prince’s best friend, playmate, and partner in crime. He’s a family friend, as well as a subject, and has no trouble teasing the younger princess. His father, who oversaw his training, is a strict and demanding man who expects nothing but perfection from Christian, which means doing things the way his father wants them done. Exactly the way he wants them done. The two men have never gotten along, and Christian isn’t looking forward to facing his father’s disappointment and judgement.

Max, like Christian, has grown up on Corazón and he, too, is fairly close to the royal family. He oversees their every meal, from breakfast to banquets, and he’s never wanted to be anywhere else. Tall and muscular, he’s always been looked at as the one to take charge and the one to always be in control, but he melts like candy when Christian takes care of him. In fact, Max has spent the past ten years obsessing over the what-might-have-been between he and Christian, comparing every other relationship to the one he never got to have with Christian. And from the sound of it, the way he acts while telling Christian that he hasn’t been celibate, those dates, those other potential relationships felt, to him, like cheating on Christian. Fortunately, Christian finds it romantic. So much so that, several hours later, Christian is already commenting to a friend that Max would make a great father for their future kids.

The author has a clean, straightforward writing style and the book is decently pleasant, but there’s a strange absence of weight to the story. Events are told — X happened, then Y — with such a casual, breezy tone that everything feels light and insubstantial. Christian tells a story where he was roofied and nearly raped, but it’s given as much weight as the discussion of decorations for the ball. And the grand climax of the story is brushed aside just as easily so that the characters can get some cuddles in.

All in all this book is fine, but I was never caught by it and it never really held my interest. I’m sorry to say, but I don’t recommend this book.