Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits.
Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.
Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.
When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.
The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.
In this royal battle, can there be room for two?
Title : Battle Royal
Author : Lucy Parker
Series : Palace Insiders (book one)
Format : eARC / eBook
Page Count : 411
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : August 17, 2021
Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 4 star review
While Battle Royal shares some similarities to one of my all-time favourite Parker reads, and obviously by the above rating I really loved it, I’ll admit this might end up being on the bottom rung of my top five favourites from this author. Which just goes to show you how much I love her books because so many of them are so great. But it’s easily the one that made me cry the most.
“Some of us have compassion for others. It’s called empathy.“
“Some of us would hug a rabid squirrel if it shed a few tears and burbled an improbably sob story. It’s called gullibility.”
This story is doing a lot plot-wise, which may actually be what works against it a little bit, only because sometimes certain elements don’t quite get the full attention they deserve, or are tied-off pretty quickly and conveniently, but despite all that, I enjoyed everything that was done. And was also, like, moved by much of it; see aforementioned tears.
“[..] it’s way too.. not beige to come from your kitchens.”
“A neutral palette is universally appropriate.”
“That’s not how you pronounce ‘dull’.“
The obvious plot points to note are easily deduced by both cover and summary; there’s a pair of rival grumpy/sunshine bakers who feature not only on a GBBO-like baking competition but also are competing to win the royal wedding cake contract. But what’s less obvious? Is the lovely infusion of found family dynamics. As well as complicated biological-family relations. Less lovely but just as emotional? The talk and processing of loss and grief.
“Jealousy is a destructive, pointless emotion and a complete waste of time.“
“Fairly annoying, then, that it’s seeping from your pores right now?“
Like many romances these days, we’re getting more bang for our buck and within the pages of this cutesy adorable outside is a lot of substance. Which isn’t to say the cutesy adorable ones aren’t just as satisfying. But I definitely picked this up for something joyful and fun and I got that.. and tears. That’s all I mean. And I don’t remotely regret getting more than I wanted. There were plenty of laughs (full out cackles a time or two) and I really enjoyed watching these two opposites fall for each other amongst all the other excitement happening around them. Bonus points because they are a bit older than the typical romance protagonists and, as always, Parker makes the steamy moments steamy and a little silly and all around endearingly real.
“You have the table side manner of the shark from Jaws.“
Though I maybe didn’t come off as strong about my love for this one, I think that’s a combination of having too many top top favourites from the author and also just because this one, despite the emotes, was a bit of a softer touch. A slower, gentler, burn of a story.
“I’m equal parts terrified and aroused.”
“What an excellent relationship motto for us.”
All that to say : this is a definite recommend. And I can’t wait for the next in the series.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 4 star review
When your judge becomes your peer
When you hate each other, or do you…
A combination of family & found family
Well Lucy Parker started a brand new series in style and confirmed my trust in her brand of romance is unwavering. This story had a combination of a re-imagining of the Great British Bake Off with royalty, judges of the competition, business rivalry and so much chemistry.
Sylvie was the wildly creative character in this, full of glitter, focus and drive while Dominic was an ex-mentor as such, clean lines, minimalist and her opposite in every way. We all know that opposites make for the best couples though and this book provided an excellent plot to work alongside what built between these two. There was the most compelling family and found family context to this story, Pet had me glued to the page.
“You have the tableside manner of the shark from Jaws.”
Lucy Parker writes with wit (as ever) and dialogue that makes you feel the emotional temperature. The chemistry was palpable and there was nothing I didn’t enjoy about this read. I’m truly excited for more from this series.
Thank you to the author for the arc that I won in a giveaway, this hasn’t affected by unbiased opinion.