A Royal Kiss & Tell by Julia London

A Royal Kiss & Tell by Julia London

This is the second in A Royal Wedding, a series where royalty steps beyond the bounds of expectation to find true love. The series is more than only romance so far with this book also containing intrigue, though not a mystery. Instead, Prince Leopold is tasked with using his access to discover what treachery is afoot between those with the power to modernize Alucia and its sister country. As a story, A Royal Kiss & Tell offers everything that drew me in with A Princess Plan, something I found a little surprising to be honest.

Lady Caroline Hawke, or Caro to her friends, is not my kind of female lead. Eliza, from the first book, was much more someone I appreciated, and I shared Prince Leopold’s opinion of Caro as self-obsessed and shallow. Leopold didn’t start out all that strong either, being more often in his cups than doing anything of interest.

It didn’t take long for these two to revise my opinions, though. Both undergo a period of self-reflection in which we learn why they have become the frivolous people they are at the beginning. Even better, they are each working to amend that image of themselves, if in very different ways.

Caro has recently discovered her love of fashion carries with it a love of, and talent for, design. Over her brother’s objections, she has even gone beyond designing for herself, Eliza, and Hollis to taking requests from others. Her brother and guardian Beck worries for her future and the cost of all her expenditures, but he cannot see her vision. This is the heart of Caro’s fears. She worries there’s nothing inside her at all as none of the potential suitors, or even her brother, see something other than her shell. The very fact of her concerns tells me there’s more.

Leopold has always been the spare prince. He received little attention and no training for a role his brother Sebastian is destined to fill. Rather than let frustration swallow him whole, he drowns his lack of purpose, going from party to party until he doesn’t even remember the first time he met Caro. She does, however, and presumes a close friendship because of it he doesn’t share.

The book begins mostly with the aftermath of book one (including a recap of the murderous plot). While Eliza and Sebastian finish the last of their social obligations in a grand, formal, Alucian wedding, Leopold drips contempt on the pushy, yet beautiful, sister of his friend Beck. As with the first book, the descriptions, as seen through Caro’s eyes, run a little long for me, but it also does a good job of setting the reader up.

Not only are we put back into their world, but the grounds are laid for Leopold’s change and Caro’s unfortunate habit of catching sight of, and misunderstanding, odd circumstances with the prince. It’s no coincidence. Caro refuses to admit to her infatuation, especially after Leopold gives her a firm dressing down, but she cannot keep her eyes off him. She has a sixth sense of his location at any given moment.

Intrigue, open-door intimacy, and a firm dose of sharp dialogue mix with the costs and complexities of London society. This is a fitting continuation of the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Caro and Leopold. I’m looking forward to what the fates will bring Hollis’ way, as I’d guess she’s next to find love, a second love in her case.

The book will be available for purchase on May 19th, and I recommend it for fans of Victorian romance and Georgette Heyer.

P.S. I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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