Review: Royal Affair, by Marquita Valentine

Title: Royal Affair
Author: Marquita Valentine
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Romance
Expected publication: April 18, 2017.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Summary: Online muckraker Brooks Walker has a reputation for exposing the political elite. Now he's set his sights on the Sinclair siblings, who've been embroiled in their fair share of drama ever since their exile to North Carolina. But Brooks has never been afraid to get his hands dirty - until he meets a royal wallflower at a charity ball who makes him reconsider everything. Or because he's putting their relationship first, before his journalistic integrity?

As the "spare" twin, Princess Charlotte has always been the responsible one. So when her sister agrees to fulfill her duty as queen, Charlotte gives herself permission to break a few rules by flirting with the very off-limits CEO of Walker Media. Brooks is the worst sort of man to start an affair with, but Charlotte just can't help it. The trouble is, since she's no good at playing games, soon she's a tiara over heels in love. And when Brooks come clean, Charlotte must decide whether his confession is worth a royal pardon.

Normally staid and responsible, Princess Charlotte is out to break a few rules, and does so by flirting with Brooks Walker, a man responsible for exposing secrets - including those of her family. Royal Affair is the second in Marquita Valentine's Royals in Exiles series, and I would say - not having read the first book, that it would certainly seem to help to do so. I felt immediately lost and confused reading this - and I didn't get a solid understanding of the previous scandal and Brooks' role in until more than halfway through the book. And to be completely honest, I started skim-reading about 60% of the way through.

What attracted me to this book was the cover - it's bright, and gives a sense of being fun and flirty that carries over across the covers for the rest of the books in the series. And I'm a sucker for the bad-boy redemption arc and undercover royalty tropes, so I thought this book would be right up my alley. Except I didn't feel an emotional connection between Charlotte and Brooks at all. Not on their own, not when they were with each other's family, nothing. Add to that, I found the dialogue to be forced and clunky. I could see that the author was attempting witty banter, but it came through and overdone.

There was a point, near the beginning, when Charlotte's sister Imogene tells her, essentially, "He should be chasing you!" Which, yeah. He should be. That's kind of what makes the bad-boy trope work so well oftentimes: the idea of a cynical man brought to his knees through the power of a good girl, not with her chasing him and asking (awkwardly) to have an affair.

This arc was based on an uncorrected proof provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

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