I’m a fan of adult fiction. That’s probably pretty obvious from the fact that I’m reviewing Royally Screwed by Emma Chase at the moment, but I think it’s worth bluntly stating that, every now and then, I enjoy a good romantic comedy read with adult elements. There are novels of this genre that I’ve hated, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes there are those ones that are more unique, that are story-driven and that feature intricate and complex characters, and then the erotic parts seem to add something to the narrative rather than overwhelming it. When done properly, adult fiction can be really enjoyable and exciting to read, and that’s where my interest in it stems from.
I had a Victorian literature professor in third year university who told us that the entire romance genre is derived from the Victorian era and the literature of its time. While this seems like a loaded statement, I can see what my professor was trying to say (and she’s one of the leading Victorian literature experts in Canada, so I wouldn’t dream of arguing with her anyway) – the best romances feature all of the tropes that were first explored in Victorian literature: the disadvantaged but strong and defiant heroine; the dashing and intoxicating hero who has a secret or two, a wife locked up in his attic; the societal norms or economic circumstances or some such obstacle that keeps the lovers apart; the happy and triumphant conclusion, where the hero and the heroine assert their choice, stand up to society and put their love before any and all convention. These are the features of many Victorian novels, and they are reimagined in the most successful romance novels of our current time.
So, when I read the description of Emma Chase’s Royally Screwed, I thought, Perfect, this is romantic gold! And it absolutely was – the sort of plot that becomes addictive, that you crave, that you’re excited to delve further into. The novel follows Prince Nicholas and his relationship with a commoner, New York bakeshop owner Olivia. Obviously, their different social stations is the major obstacle to overcome in the story and Nicholas must decide either to abandon his love or his country, his heart or his duty. This is the sort of story that is right up my alley, especially since I have a particular fondness for royalty, and I was eager to read it for months before finding it relatively cheap on my new Kobo. I’ve found, in the short time I’ve been using the Kobo, that romance novels seem to be the perfect genre to use it for, partly because most romance novels have front covers that I’m slightly embarrassed to flaunt about on the bus, and also because the stories are usually so light and simple that the structure is easy to follow in digital format. Anyway, as soon as I saw Royally Screwed on the Kobo, I snatched it up and finished it within only a few days.
I really did become addicted to reading this story. Although it was a straight-forward story and many of the conflicts were resolved perhaps too easily, I had a lot of fun reading it and it was just the sort of novel I needed in my life during a week when I was desperately missing my fiancé and craving romance. Nicholas is a really sexy character (Sidenote: I love that they never call him Nick, because he is a Nicholas through and through) and what I enjoyed most about Royally Screwed was reading the story through Nicholas’ perspective. Chase was very smart to alternate the point of view between that of Olivia and that of Nicholas, and I found myself enjoying Nicholas’ portions more because it gave me an insight into how he perceived and felt about Olivia. Some may argue that this perspective renders Olivia nothing more than an object of the male gaze, but Olivia also had her turn telling her portions of the story and she was a well-developed character who had a personality in her own right, and so her characterization didn’t suffer at all during the points when Nicholas told the story. The beauty of literature is that it can offer its reader a fresh perspective on reality and, in this case, romance, and so I thoroughly enjoyed reading the man’s take on all of the events.
The one qualm I have with the novel is that Olivia seemed to lose a bit of her strength as the story progressed. Her first interaction with Nicholas is unexpected and fiery and she exudes this no nonsense attitude, and I think in that scene, she seriously challenges Nicholas. I did feel, though, that as the love story went on and Olivia began to have feelings for Nicholas, she started to become one of those typical heroines who gives in a bit too easily, who forgets what she stands for a little bit. I don’t think I’m being too critical, but I do think that Chase intended for Olivia to be a strong female character, and she does a lot better than most authors of this genre of novel. I’m very interested in reading the second book in this series, Royally Matched (I’m intending to start it today), because the main female character in that one seems to be a touch more unique and self-assured.
Bottom line, I devoured Royally Screwed and I don’t think I need to read much further into things than that. It is a seriously entertaining book, the main characters are charming, and it offers a glimpse into the second novel in the series that makes it seem like it is definitely worth continuing with these characters. I’d highly recommend Royally Screwed to readers who are entertained by romances and who aren’t put off by fast resolutions and occasional clichés. I personally enjoyed the novel and look forward to reading the second one.
❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart