Royally Screwed by Emma Chase | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
“Because this place, Olivia, it’s a pretty little shitheap—with a
thousand bloodthirsty flies. But there is goodness here. I’ve felt it.
I’ve found it.” She covers my hand, squeezing. “And my Simon loves
Nicholas like a brother. So if he loves him, I know he is one of the
Well, well, well. It appears Emma Chase really knows how to get a girl's heart pounding when it comes to a delightful and ultimately frothy romance. You know the sort of romance book that is so good you kind of wonder if it's bad for you? The very novel you take with your all girls trip to the beach one hot summer weekend? This. Is. It. Royally Screwed takes you away in one full sweep of royalty, romance and steamy sex scenes. Chase weaves a heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) tale of love, loss, life and inbetweens, sprinkled into a grand plot of the exploits of one royal family. Get ready for a wild ride, kids. You're going to need to sit still for this one.
Royally Screwed is the ultimate summer book that women will be bouncing around in excitement over. Although it is not terribly unique (it isn't meant to be) in premise, it's still a delicious romance that will leave you with the warm and fuzzies. My experience with it was nothing but wonderful and it's definitely going down as one of my favourites in the better part of a decade. Which, coming from a gal who isn't particularly fond of romance novel's and their suffocating tropes, is pretty high praise. Not to toot my own horn, of course. The fact of the matter is that it's a bit cheesy--sure--and has a hell of a lot to offer besides the various tropes.
Emma Chase handles her plotlines smartly and leaves a trail of flames in her wake when it comes to the chemistry between leading lady Olivia and the exceptionally sexy Prince Nicholas. There's just a bit of a build-up that keeps readers on their toes in tension and comedy. I love a slow burn but their relationship is definitely not such--it's just the right speed and thoroughly enjoyable to witness. I found myself rooting for them the instant Olivia throws a pie in his face when he was being a (drunken) dick. Olivia and Nicholas have a natural and raw sort of chemistry that has the ability to both melt and set the readers on fire.
I loved the elements of royalty that she incorporated and seeing this kingdom brought to life. It takes a lot of effort to work with royals and when you play it by your own rules, that's when real magic is happening. Fictional royalty is a tricky path to take but Chase really creates a vivid world out of the characters and it is just pleasurable to the highest degree. I long to know more about this family and of Wessco.
Other things I'd consider a plus: family. The ties that bind us to our loved ones can be complicated and I definitely enjoyed seeing how, in some ways, Olivia and Nicholas' families mirrored each other. The younger siblings. The sense of responsibility both Olivia and Nicholas have when it comes to keeping their family or legacy alive. The loss of a parent (or in Nicholas' case, two parents) and so on. It was nice to see a romance novel with truly fleshed out characters that expanded into minor characters as well as backstories.
I was fond of the dynamic between Nicholas and his brother and thoroughly intrigued by The Queen. There's something about the way that Emma Chase writes this family that makes you want to know more--luckily for us, we will be seeing more (hopefully) in the second novel in the series, told from Nicholas' brother, Henry's, point of view. I'm interested to see where it takes the family now that Nicholas has taken a huge step in moving forward in his life.
That leaves me with Olivia and her sister, Ellie. Oh, they are so wonderful. I probably could read at least a dozen more spin-offs relating to the two sisters and their bond, especially as Ellie grows up and now that things have changed. Ellie was an actual ray of sunshine and I wish we had seen a lot more of her!
As for friendships... I feel like Nicholas/Henry and Olivia/Ellie have a good family-but-still-friends vibe to them, but there were a lot of fun side characters, too. Your novel is only as good as the characters in it. Like Marty, Olivia's friend and co-worker. And Franny, Olivia's only true friend in Wessco and who happens to be the wife of Nicholas' friends. Can we get a spin-off of the four of them just doing the most with double dating?
Franny is another character I wish had been more present in the novel and I would love to get to know her more. Her relationship with Simon was nice and I think she truly provided another level of depth (see: her backstory) to the side characters (saving it from being underdeveloped) and also had that humorous side that is always respected in literature. Ultimately, her and Olivia's friendship was just beginning to blossom and I have a head-canon they are off being bad-ass-besties together.
Striking, luxurious and flat out sexy, Royally Screwed is one of the best romances I've read since the start of the year and I can't wait for more from this series. If you're looking for killer sex scenes, a lot of wonderful characters and a little bit of spoiled riches--you've found your next obsession. Definitely the series to watch out for.
Smart and sexy... what else could you want?