The blurb for Royally Indebted intrigued me, but almost from the start of this story, I found the book wasn’t for me. Ultimately, I had to put it down at about 40% and decided not to finish it. I’ll get into why, but first, the blurb:
Eric Tinsley, the unexpected new Lord Gossett, has inherited a mess. He was never meant to be Lord of the manor, since he was the ‘spare’, but is forced into the role upon the deaths of his father and brother.
Little does he know that the title comes with a mound of debt that he cannot afford to pay.
Enter Robert Bennett, American Billionaire. Robert has tried multiple ways to move up in society, but even his billions can’t crack the royal elite. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Robert finds that way with Eric, Lord Gossett.
Married under a ten-year contract that outlines every aspect of their relationship, they soon find themselves questioning everything.
That definitely piqued my interest, so I dove into the book. It’s told in dual first-person POV and we begin the story with Eric. In the first chapter, I was drawn into the story. But after that first chapter, things fell apart for me very quickly. This foundation of the story requires suspension of disbelief, which isn’t usually a problem for me, but it required such a leap that I found I couldn’t go that far. After the death of his father and brother, Eric is the unexpected heir to the titles and estate his family has held for nearly 500 years. That wasn’t the problem. Eric’s childhood was absolutely horrible, as he was ridiculed and beaten often, especially after an incident when he was 13. He’d distanced himself from his family for years. So I couldn’t understand why he cared about his family’s legacy when he wanted nothing to do with them. The author simply couldn’t convince me that Eric should want to do what is right by the legacy, not after what he’d been through and where he was at the beginning of the story. There was nothing shown about Eric and his mindset in the portion I read that made me believe that.
Eric’s sister, who was the only one in his family with any decency, comes up with the plan for him to marry for money, to Robert, the American billionaire who wants status. This was also a leap for me. First, that a billionaire of Robert’s prowess would need to marry a titled Englishman in order to gain status, and then with how quickly both men agree. It’s literally a few sentences over the phone, before they had really even met, and they’re ready to go all in. Sure, they plan to talk about it and hash out a contract, but it’s clear both men expect to marry within a few months. This was another strike against the book, though I was still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
The men meet, we’re told there’s attraction, and Eric and Robert practically jump into bed together. They discuss BDSM and kink in a very casual manner that doesn’t give BDSM it’s due and made it seem like it’s not as serious as it is. Ultimately, in the part I read, there are at least two very serious kinks that are explored with barely any discussion between the men. It made me highly uncomfortable; not the kink itself, though to be honest it was fairly extreme, but the fact that the important tenets of BDSM weren’t observed or taken seriously. When the second scene happened, and after the manner with which it was handled, I had to stop reading.
On top of all that, the part I read was filled with stereotypes and clichés that simply didn’t work for me. It was almost as if the author had a checklist of these things, and with each new scene, picked one off the list. It was more than just the homophobic family or the supportive sister clichés, but stereotypes in statements and phrasing that are far too numerous to mention. There are at least two comments about bisexuality that were incredibly offensive, alluding to the fact that bi people can’t be happy in a monogamous relationship with one gender and can’t be faithful.
I made it to 40% before I decided not to finish the book. In addition to all I’ve mentioned, the dialogue was stilted and awkward, as the characters didn’t seem to know how to always speak like people. There were inconsistencies in simple things that changed from page to page, things that could have been easily checked and corrected, but were not. There were occasional perspective shifts to third person that felt wildly out of place.
While the premise of this book was interesting, the execution failed for me. I didn’t care for the characters at all, their motivations and actions made little sense, and the way kink was handled was a disservice to the BDSM community. I recommend skipping this book entirely.