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New Release Review! CODENAME CHARMING by Lucy Parker (Palace Insiders #2)

Codename Charming cover

Following Battle Royal, beloved author Lucy Parker pens another delicious romantic comedy about a fake relationship between a grumpy royal bodyguard and the charming, sunny assistant who melts his cold, hard exterior.

Petunia De Vere enjoys being the personal assistant to lovable, bumbling Johnny Marchmont. But the job has its share of challenges, including the royal’s giant, intimidating bodyguard, Matthias. Pet and Matthias are polar opposites–she’s spontaneous and enthusiastic, he’s rigid and stoic–but she can sense there’s something softer underneath that tough exterior…

For Matthias Vaughn, protecting others is the name of the game. But keeping his royal charge out of trouble is more difficult than he imagined because everywhere Johnny goes, calamity ensues, and his petite, bubbly assistant is often caught in the fray. Matthias hates the idea of Pet getting hurt and he’s determined to keep everyone safe, even if it means clashing with his adorable new coworker.

When a clumsy moment leads to a questionable tabloid photo, the press begins to speculate that Pet is romantically involved with Johnny. To put an end to the rumors, the royal PR team asks Pet and Matthias to stage a fake relationship and the two reluctantly agree. But as they spend more time together outside of work, they begin to wonder what real emotions this pretend connection might uncover. Especially when a passionate kiss leaves both of their heads spinning…

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Just delightful!

I mean, a grumpy-sunshine/fake relationship/workplace romance already has so much going for it–but when it’s also book 2 in the Palace Insiders series? You know it’s going to be good!

Codename Charming absolutely did not disappoint. Pet and Matthias’s story made me LOL as much as it had be swooning–who can resist a big, burly guy who ends up melting for the teeny little heroine? It’s suuuuuper slooooow burn, though, because the denial is strong with these two (the fact that they *had* to be in a relationship for work purposes probably helped slow things down, because it gave them *reasons* to not explore their feelings too deeply), but I promise, it’s worth the wait.

The reasons behind Pet and Matthias’s being *required* to have a fake relationship for work seem a little iffy–does the palace have an HR department?–we get a further reason much later on. AND of course these two probably weren’t going to manage it on their own without some major manipulation anyway, so…

Given where they work and for whom (the Princess’s husband Johnny, who not only takes clumsy to a new level, but Matthias also muses at one point “made a bloody Care Bear look cynical and streetwise”) there is plenty of fodder for the “com” part of this rom com. But there’s a lot of drama here too–Matthias has a tragic backstory, and those who have read Battle Royal already know that Pet’s family life wasn’t the greatest either. (You can read this one without reading the first book, but why would you? Dominic and Sylvie’s story is just as delightful.) It takes a lot for him to believe that he’s even lovable in the first place, let alone that *Pet* would find him so, and Pet tried so hard to befriend Matthias when she started working at the palace (to no avail) that she doesn’t believe he could possibly want anything real with her either.

Throw in a grumpy cat, a murder parrot, and some truly delightful secondary characters–most of whom are just as committed as the reader is to getting these two to their HEA–and you’ve got the makings for an absolutely charming story. Pun maybe intended 😉

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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