I didn’t realize Parker Swift’s Royal Affair was the first book in a three-part serial – Royal Scandal – and I’m not a big fan of surprise cliffhangers. I’m irritated but haven’t allowed it to color my opinion of Royal Affair, because I read an advance copy, and I’m hoping the fact that this is an on-going story will be communicated in the synopsis when the book is published. And in any case, the book has enough problems as it is.
Royal Affair begins in Canada where Lydia is working as a nanny traveling with a family for the summer prior to moving to London where she’ll take up her dream job in the fashion industry. While on one of the vacation stops, she meets Dylan Hale, a sexy Brit who is traveling with his family. He’s elusive and handsome, and she’s surprised when someone so gorgeous immediately asks her out. It quickly becomes obvious that both have a bad case of insta-lust, and they go on a single, brief date that ends with an electrifying kiss. Lydia leaves Canada the next day, but before she goes Dylan has someone deliver a one line note asking her to call him when she arrives in London.
Although they spent an evening together, Lydia has no idea who Dylan is or really anything about him – not even his occupation. She’s aware he’s handsome and kisses really well, but that’s it. She Googles him before moving and discovers he’s famous, a billionaire, an award-winning international architect at thirty and a marquess who will one day be a duke. He’s perfection – so perfect that it’s difficult for the reader to accept him as remotely believable.
Dylan’s marvelousness intimidates Lydia, but she does call him when she gets to England, and he immediately starts pursuing her with a singular focus that’s both flattering and overwhelming. If Dylan’s interest appears too good to be true, it is. He isn’t looking to date Lydia – he only wants to have slightly-kinky sex with her. He’s brutally honest, telling her he will never want more than just to fuck her, and he also demands that their association be a secret. He wants absolutely no one to know about them, especially the press.
Lydia is fairly inexperienced with men and hesitates – briefly – before accepting Dylan’s proposal. They start having amazing sex and she learns he was quite serious about this being just sex and a secret. She finds herself instructed to enter his house through the back door, told to not acknowledge him in public, and picked up by his driver in a car no one knows is his. This doesn’t feel good to Lydia, especially considering she’s developing serious feelings for him, but the sex is awesome and she rolls with the punches by convincing herself that she can do the casual thing.
Dylan starts sending mixed signals when he acts extremely protective and possessive of her, texts and calls often, and some fairly sweet and romantic things for her like sending her flowers. He sort of acts like he cares but says he doesn’t. Things feel confusing, and she begins to want more but also doesn’t want to push him for fear he will ditch her.
Royal Affair is told exclusively through Lydia’s point of view making it hard to get to know Dylan or understand why he’s acting like such a jerk. Ms. Swift obviously wants to make him a mysterious figure to have subject matter for the next two books, but he’s such a stranger that it’s hard to understand or believe why Lydia is falling head over heels for him. She acts like an insecure doormat much of the time, and the excuse that she’s only twenty-four and naive is hard to continue to swallow. She’s somehow fine that he will not take her anywhere in public – not even out to dinner – and I can only suppose she’s hypnotized by his penis.
Perhaps the single point of view is also why it’s difficult to understand what is ‘royal’ about Royal Affair, because being in line for a dukedom doesn’t make Dylan a member of the royal family and nor does the fact that his family is friends with the Queen – unless Ms. Swift is choosing to completely ignore the rules of the British Monarchy. The book would be better served with a setting in a fictional country that has a different definition of its royal family, because it’s difficult to ignore the glaring error and just accept it as a fun premise. She should have gone all in and made up everything rather than attempting to bend basic reality to fit her story just to create a catchy title, because doing so underestimates the reader’s intelligence and makes Royal Affair feel even sillier than it already is.
If a trilogy featuring a young billionaire who is into kinky sex and pursues a younger, innocent woman sounds vaguely familiar, you probably will not be the only one to have this thought. Royal Affair is set in Britain, but definitely treads ground already covered many, many times elsewhere. If you want to read a book with a lot of spicy sex, don’t mind a one-sided narrative told by a meek heroine and are fine with cliffhangers, you might enjoy Royal Affair, but I can’t recommend it.