Royal Disaster by Parker Swift is a juicy sequel in her Royal Scandal series that adds some gripping suspense to the romance.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
[For Mature Audiences; Some Spoilers]
You’ll recall that Royal Affair ends with Lydia and Dylan making their relationship official and public. After their declarations of love at Primrose Hill (made even more special because of the connection to Lydia’s parents), they make their debut as boyfriend/girlfriend at Hannah Ragan’s post-fashion show party. It’s sweet and sexy, yet also a little awkward because of the cool reception Lydia and Dylan get from his parents. But no matter, because Daphne comes to town for Lydia’s birthday and reassures her, and generally the press seems to take the news in stride. However, things take a turn for the worse when Lydia gets an email from a mysterious source… it includes a photo of Lydia and Dylan in a very compromising sexy times position and accuses Dylan of being a liar, criminal, and traitor…
Royal Disaster picks up two weeks later with Lydia and Dylan settling into the new aspects of their relationship. They spend almost every night together, either and her place or his. They attend various public events, go to work, and try to lead their lives as normally as possible. But, there is one important change, and that is Lydia now has a bodyguard, Frank. After the first mysterious email, is followed by others, including audio and video of intensely private moments, Dylan gets more serious about Lydia’s security. And it’s more troubling because the cyberstalker might actually be tied to Dylan’s family and Hale Shipping.
The DyLy drama takes on other dimensions as Lydia tries to learn how to deal with the press, their criticisms, and the unflattering photos/speculation. While she’s able to make a new friendship with Dylan’s sister, Emily, his parents are determined to ignore their relationship and even try to break them up (this happens during Lydia’s first trip to the family estate, Humboldt Park).
Beyond the DyLy hubbub, Lydia starts to make a name for herself in London’s fashion scene. Hannah is eager to use Lydia’s new socialite status as a chance to promote her designs, so Lydia becomes an impromptu model. Yet, professionally speaking, she’s able to successfully pitch an idea for a Hannah Ragan brick-and-mortar store, and parlay that into a significant promotion.This creates friction at work with Fiona, her co-worker, but in time, they come to an understanding…that maybe Fee could benefit from Lydia’s American gumption and new socialite position via Dylan.
For the most part, Lyla and Dylan are solid. They love each other and are opening up more and more. Dylan remains the omniscient, BDSM-wielding sex-god and Lydia is his wholly trusting, willing, compliant partner (something that I still find difficult to go with, even if the sexy times are HAWTNESS):
We continued like that—me begging with my body and him almost giving in. Dylan was always bossy, always possessive of my pleasure, liking to dole it out in his measure, but this was beyond intense. He was taking it further, retreating more, bringing me closer, even more than usual, and yet always pulling back. With each stroke, the pinpricks assaulting my core got sharper. The anticipation was a serrated blade carving me up. But I let him go on, trusting him, waiting for him to deliver…
…He moved down the bed, pulling my legs over his shoulders as he went. I could see only his dark head and broad shoulders when I had the strength to lift my head and take a look. He slid his hands, palms up, under my bottom and tilted me towards his mouth. He kissed me. He kissed me like he’d kiss my mouth, devouring me. His soft, wet strokes spoke right to the intense heat that he’d built, and with a flick of his tongue over my raw, hard clit I spiraled out into my orgasm. My legs clamped around his head as I tried to cope with the searing contractions. I could feel my arousal pouring over his tongue, my muscles clamping down on themselves, hungry to be clamping down on him. And then again. He’d created so much tension, and it was being released in waves. I was panting, heaving, damp with sweat, when he returned to me.
“That better?” Dylan asked.
I smiled up at him—well, as much of a smile as I could muster in my haze—and I could see something in him I’d never seen before: need. Not just lust or possessiveness, but a deep desire to know that I was okay, for me to make him okay too.
“Now let me,” I said.
He needed to work something out, and he was working it out with me, on me. I held his face in my hands for a moment, looking right into his eyes, and kissed him. I could have urged him onto his back and rode him, or given him a blow job. I could have gifted him orgasms that were all about me giving and him receiving. But I realized in that moment that was not what he needed. He needed to lose himself in me, to take me of his own accord. I could see it, written all over him—he needed to own me that night. I returned my hands to their position above my head and spread my legs just a little wider for him, inviting him. He saw my invitation for what it was, and he took it.
Dylan is also cautious about bringing Lydia completely into his world. Tea with the Queen and attending a royal engagement party are one thing, but when it comes to potential problems with Hale Shipping, Dylan remains tight-lipped. Can their love continue to grow in the absence of greater trust?
I really enjoy the added romantic suspense element with the cyberstalker. And there’s a time where things become quite dangerous for Lydia. Even when we learn who the culprit is and their reasoning, significant damage has been done, which causes Dylan to break things off with Lydia for a time. This added conflict between Dylan and Lydia makes the story even more interesting too:
“…The worst part is that in my gut, I knew it. I knew we should have stayed a secret. I should have just enjoyed you as long as I could and then let you go. Or I should have just controlled myself from the beginning. I was being selfish. I—”
No. He couldn’t do this. “Stop!” I said, finally finding my words.
“Lydia. Even you must see that everything I feared has come to fruition. You think I haven’t felt your anxiety over the past few months? Your doubts, your fears about my stress and what I wasn’t sharing with you? About what I was sharing? About the media, the photos? You think I couldn’t feel how, even slowly, the mess that is my life was breaking us down?”
It turned out it wasn’t me who was flailing. It wasn’t me who was screwing this up. I was fighting. I was clawing at the walls, digging my fingers in, determined to hold on to this, because I knew it was worth it. But he wasn’t clawing at the walls. He didn’t know we were worth it. He couldn’t. He was giving up. I couldn’t be strong enough for both of us. This wasn’t my life I was trying to reckon with. It was his, and only he could save it.
I took a deep breath, this time calming myself down. I had a choice, and really there was only one thing to do. I took a deep breath and began talking, the words like ice as they rolled off my lips, because I knew where they were taking me.
“Dylan, I could keep fighting you. Fighting for you. For us. I could stay here in this room in Buckingham Palace and try to convince you that we’ll always be stronger together than alone. I could try to force you to see that. Because you’re wrong. I know you’re wrong. I look at you and I see something you don’t—I see a future you deserve. One where you’re not alone. One where you’re the incredible architect, the good man you are, and the Duke of Abingdon. I have faith in you—you can figure this out.”
He was looking at me and his head was shaking, almost imperceptibly, but there it was.
Finishing the book with Dylan’s POV is a major highlight of this book. I’ve been dying to get into his brain and, given the events at the end of the book, it makes sense that his perspective would be the best for trying to understand the major life changes that are coming. Dylan might be the 17th Duke of Abingdon, but he refuses it take the same path his father does. Soon he realizes that he needs Lydia by his side as he forges a new direction. Yet interestingly, as we finish Royal Disaster, this time it’s Lydia asking to cloak part of their relationship in secrecy…
I wish we could understand more about why Dylan’s father, Geoff, is so hard-hearted towards Dylan. He completely diminishes Dylan’s accomplishments as an architect and seems to lure his son into really bad personal and professional choices (e.g. being a womanizer… like when Lydia and Dylan have the conversation about how many lovers he’s had…and it’s a BIG number). I really don’t get it.
Finally, Daphne is still my favorite and has the best advice (for example, telling Lydia to “lead by example” when it comes to wanting Dylan to open up and encouraging her bestie to let Dylan take care of her, just as she wants to take care of him). I really want her to find love! Maybe with Dylan’s best friend, Will?
My initial concerns about the similarities to Fifty Shades of Grey end with book 1. Truly, Royal Disaster is a juicy sequel in this series and contemporary romance fans, especially those who love royal intrigue, should definitely pick this up!
Also, keep in mind that the final installment in the series, Royal Treatment, is out now, so there’s nothing stopping you from getting your binge-read on!
Many thanks to the publisher for review copies.