As someone who spent her childhood stubbornly believing in dashing princes on white horses, I remain fascinated by the scandals, the clandestine trysts, and the often fairytale-like quality of grand royal romances, so the mere mention of a rascal prince who rocks the Establishment with his defiant and carefree lifestyle made my skin tingle on cue. I loved the first book in this series wholeheartedly, but I adored every single word of Henry’s story—a story that was truly unexpected in its highs and lows, sexy yet breathtakingly compelling, and with two protagonists whose every facet leaves us breathless. A book that was an absolute joy to read start to finish, Emma Chase’s wicked sense of humour shines bright in her every word, breathing life into her characters, and drawing the reader into a mouthwatering tale of royal shenanigans, reality television, and finding true love where you least expect it.
“I’ll make you famous.”
“I’m already famous.”
“But you’re not enjoying it anymore, are you, Henry? I can do something for you that no one else can—I will make famous fun again.”
After his older brother Nicholas unexpectedly abdicated the throne for love, Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembrook found himself as heir apparent to the throne of Wessco, a role he never thought he’d have to fulfill. With the future of his country now resting entirely on his shoulders, and his carefree bachelor life regrettably behind him, Henry is acutely aware of all his shortcomings when it comes to filling his brother’s shoes and one day becoming a good King. And as time goes by, his many mistakes only serve to make him more and more doubtful that he’d ever become the kind of leader his country needs him to be.
In the last year, if I’ve been told once, I’ve been told a thousand times—the heir apparent must act properly. But I’ve never been very good at doing what I’m told. It’s a problem. Or a reflex. If they say left, I go right. If they say sit, I jump. If they say behave, I get drunk and spend the weekend screwing all three of the Archbishop’s triplet nieces.
Tired of constantly disappointing those dearest to him, Henry is desperate to distance himself from the spotlight in order to feel like himself once again. So when the Queen sends him packing to one of their quiet seaside estates granting him the space he so clearly needs, Henry sees this as a unique opportunity to prove to everyone that he could embrace his birthright. And what better way to make his people like him than putting on a show for the whole world to see? Twenty beautiful blue bloods in one castle, fighting for his attention, in a month-long, televised party, and in the end, he’d check off his most important royal duty—picking his future queen.
“… she could be out there, just waiting for me to find her. The woman I’m supposed to love, the future mother of my children, the lady who is destined to be Wessco’s queen—she could be one of them. And wouldn’t that be a tale to tell?”
On the first day of filming, however, instead of taking notice of the twenty beautiful women eager to catch his eye, Henry’s attention is captured by a shy brunette with glasses whose ideal man lives between the pages of her favourite classics. And she is not even a contestant on the show. Drawn to her charming, bashful ways, the young prince toys with her, making her blush and enjoying every minute of it, only to discover a clever, compassionate young woman with a naughty sense of humour beneath her quiet façade. And with a name like Sarah Von Titebottum, Henry can’t seem to stay away.
“Are you a virgin?” I ask.
“Well . . . yes.”
“Then why are you complaining? You qualify.”
Sarah’s eyes flash with annoyance and she practically growls at me. “Because I’m more than my hymen, Henry! To base the value of an accomplished, intelligent, passionate woman on a flimsy piece of skin is degrading. How would you feel if your worth rested on your foreskin?”
I think it over. And then I grin. “I’d be all right with that, actually. I’ve heard it was an impressive foreskin—all the nurses were fawning over it. It’s probably being showcased in a museum right now.”
She stares at me for a beat, then she laughs out loud—a rich, throaty, sensual sound. “You’re a terrible human being.”
“I know.” I shake my head at the calamity of it all.
“And you’re an even worse feminist.”
“Agreed. That’s something I need to work on. You’ll help me, won’t you? We should spend as much time together as possible—every minute of the day and night. I’m hoping you’ll rub off on me.”
Sarah pushes my shoulder. “Ha! You’re just hoping I’ll rub you off.”
As the royal version of a dating reality show takes off, Henry finds himself growing more and more attached to the only woman not competing for his attention, spending every free moment in her company. Late night whispered confidences turn into stolen touches, timid kisses turn into quiet moans, and before they know it, they are inseparable. But as future King of Wessco, Henry must learn never to go back on his word, even if continuing an outrageous charade could cost him the love of his life.
“All my touches—my hands, my lips, my cock—they all belong to you now, sweet Sarah.”
With a fresh spin on a tale of royal mischief, Henry’s painful path from wayward prince to responsible ruler is at the core of this story, only outshone by the tender romance slowly blossoming between the noble prince and his brave damsel. Emma Chase’s knack for instilling her characters with depth and soul, while infusing their every interaction with sensuality and complex, believable emotions, is what makes me always come back for more. And I did not put this book down once, not even as dawn started to break the next day.
It’s a tale as old as time: the inexperienced bluestocking and the bed-hopping rogue. Bloody hell, I’m a trope.
He puts his shirt back on, and my stomach swirls with a strange mix of relief and disappointment.
“Why aren’t you down with the other girls?”
“Me? Oh, I’m not part of the show. I couldn’t imagine . . .”
“Then why are you here?”
“Penelope. Mother wouldn’t let her participate unless I tagged along to keep an eye on her.”
“Every family has a wild child. Penny’s yours?”
Takes one to know one.
He tilts his head, the sunlight making his eyes a deeper green, almost simmering. “And what about you? Is there any wild in you, Teet-bottom?”
My cheeks go up in flames. “Not even a little. I’m the boring one. The good one.”
His teeth scrape his lower lip and it looks . . . naughty.
“Corrupting the good ones is my favorite pastime.”
“I’m not corruptible.”
His smile broadens. “Good. I like a challenge.”
A crew member suddenly appears, trailing a large white horse behind him. “They’re ready for you, Prince Henry.”
Keeping his eyes on me, he places one foot in the stirrup and smoothly swings up onto the saddle. With his hands on the leather reins, he winks.
“See you around, Titty-bottom.”
I cover my face and groan.
“I never should have told you that. You like teasing too much.”
“Can’t blame me. It makes you turn so many lovely shades. Is it just your cheeks that blush?” His gaze drags down my body, as if he can see beneath my clothes. “Or does it happen everywhere?”
I fold my arms, ignoring the question.
“I think you might be a bully, Prince Henry.”
“Well, in grade school I did enjoy pulling on the girls’ braids. But these days I only tug on a woman’s hair in a very specific situation.” His voice drops lower. “Let me know if you’d like a demonstration.”
His words cause images of slick, entwined limbs and gasping moans to flare in my mind. And as if on cue, the blush blooms hot under my skin.
Henry laughs, the sound deep and manly. Then he spurs his horse and rides away.