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Battle Royal

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Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits. Ready… 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 glitter Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits. Ready… 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. Set… 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. Match… 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?


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Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits. Ready… 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 glitter Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits. Ready… 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. Set… 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. Match… 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?

30 review for Battle Royal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Review to come!!! CW: death of a loved one

  2. 4 out of 5

    nick (the infinite limits of love)

    Read more of my reviews @ The Infinite Limits of Love. Baking, sunshine-meets-grump, and Lucy Parker's enchanting words! What's not to love about that combination in a romance novel? Battle Royal, my most anticipated romance novel of the year, was a sweet and charming hit. Lucy Parker knows just how to tick off all my romance requirement boxes. Battle Royal is certainly going into my forever rainy day re-reads list. No one quite does the grumpy-meets-sunshine trope as Lucy Parker does. Many of her Read more of my reviews @ The Infinite Limits of Love. Baking, sunshine-meets-grump, and Lucy Parker's enchanting words! What's not to love about that combination in a romance novel? Battle Royal, my most anticipated romance novel of the year, was a sweet and charming hit. Lucy Parker knows just how to tick off all my romance requirement boxes. Battle Royal is certainly going into my forever rainy day re-reads list. No one quite does the grumpy-meets-sunshine trope as Lucy Parker does. Many of her London Celebrities books also feature this trope and she's completely mastered it. Sylvie, our resident sunshine heroine, is a heroine after my own heart. She owns this quirky little bakery where she crafts the most whimsical little treats. When she's asked on as a judge on the very baking show (think GBBO) that gave her a career boost way back, she agrees to it. It'll give her shop just the right publicity it deserves. The only issue? She has to work with the certified grump of a judge, Dominic, with who she knocked heads with when she was a contestant. A Sparkly Heroine Who Is Maybe Not So Sparkly On The Inside Sylvie is as radiant and sparkly of a character as her bakery - seriously, how can I visit her bakery where there are enchanted forests and potions?? She exudes nothing but positive energy. However, she's also a little lonely and still grieving the loss of her beloved aunt. The combination of her soft vulnerability and her cheery personality make her endearing. Grief is a major theme in this book and Sylvie's grief, in particular, is explored beautifully. Here is a woman who is all sunshine and rainbows on the outside, but is actually still processing being left alone by a tragic passing. Lucy Parker paints the layers of Sylvie's emotions with nuance. All throughout, I was left with a slight ache in my chest because I grieved with Sylvie, but also rooting for her to find solace, happiness, and love. I can usually tell the strength of an author's skill in crafting characters when they have me invested in a character's path to their HEA. I was Sylvie's biggest cheerleader while reading Battle Royal. :) A Certified Grump With A Heart of Gold At first glance, Dominic is very much the opposite of Sylvie when it comes to personality. He's earned a reputation for not only his legendary baking skills but for also being a little stern and harsh. Sylvie's words describe him the best when she mentions finding him " as likable as a stubbed toe. " I knew that very second that contrary to Sylvie at the beginning of the book, I'd actually find him very much likable. I like a good stubbed toe (well, not literally), especially when we get to find out why exactly he behaves in the seemingly atrocious manner that he does. Of course, I was right. Dominic has zero patience for incompetence and people who waste his time. He tends to be reserved with his emotions and also struggles with expressing his feelings. A lot of that understandably stemmed from his childhood abandonment issues. That being said, he is actually a big softie when it comes to his loved ones. We see his more sensitive and tender side around his sister, Pet, and as he grows close to Sylvie. The Romance Is Utter Perfection These two definitely had preconceived notions about each other. As they are forced to work together on the baking show and as they battle it out to win a contract to make a cake for an upcoming royal wedding, they are also forced to reexamine those biases they have against each other. If you've read a Lucy Parker book before, then you know to expect lots of banter, humor, and heart between her couples. You will love Sylvie and Dominic and swoon right along as the chemistry between them grows. There's something to be said about how Lucy Parker uses body language between a couple to show the evolution of a romantic relationship. It's genuinely a work of art and she always has me highlighting passages of the couple just being unintentionally touchy-feely with each other. I just loved loved loved Sylvie and Dominic together and my romantic bookworm heart was on cloud-nine reading this book. I Can't Wait To Re-Read Battle Royal OK, so I feel like this review has gotten a little too long. There's so much I want to talk about including just how much I love the thread of the royal romance, which if you know my reading tastes is a surprise. I typically loathe royalty romances, but the subplot here is so charming. I totally made heart-eyes at Princess Rose and her fiancé. Trust Lucy Parker to make me like a trope I don't normally like! I also loved loved loved Pet, Dominic's sister, and the role that she plays. Her book is next and it's going to be a bodyguard romance, so I will keep my Pet lovefest for the next book. :) To wrap up this review and to put my love for this book into perspective: I'm usually fast asleep in bed by 10.30 pm. With this book, I stayed up until 3 am and then woke up 3 hours later to finish it. Who needs sleep when you have a great book to keep you company? Content notes: on-page sex, childhood neglect, death of relatives, sexual assault, and harassment (does not involve main characters - a character kisses a secondary character without their consent) Relationship disclosure: Lucy Parker and I are mutuals on social media and we share a friendly relationship

  3. 4 out of 5

    sil ♡ the book voyagers

    So good, so good. I couldn't stop reading (only to sleep and eat!) so I finished this so quickly omg now what am I going to do without a Lucy Parker book!!! She's one of my favorite authors and I haven't read one of her books in so long because I read her latest one before it came out so the last Lcuy Parker book I read was in 2019 and oh my god. It feels like so long ago and now!!! Battle Royal is here and you are all going to love it. Two rival bakeries. Two baking show judges. They don't get a So good, so good. I couldn't stop reading (only to sleep and eat!) so I finished this so quickly omg now what am I going to do without a Lucy Parker book!!! She's one of my favorite authors and I haven't read one of her books in so long because I read her latest one before it came out so the last Lcuy Parker book I read was in 2019 and oh my god. It feels like so long ago and now!!! Battle Royal is here and you are all going to love it. Two rival bakeries. Two baking show judges. They don't get along. She bakes colorful cakes. He bakes minimalistic cakes. But when they find out they are now competing to create a cake for an upcoming Royal wedding, things change very quickly. I literally adored Dominic and Sylvie's relationship SO MUCH. I'm obsessed. Very grumpy/sunshine!!!! Domininc is a stoic guy, he doesn't smile, he doesn't hug, he just loves baking. While Sylvie is very very different because she just loves sprinkles, glitter and she's probably the only one who can go head-to-head with Dominic. There is so much swooning in this novel. The progress of their relationship is spectacular and I love how Lucy Parker uses touch a lot. Dominic and Sylvie cannot be in the same room without touching each other, be it a finger or a small touch on the head, just to let the other know they are right there with them, you won't be able to stop swooning. When they finally kiss the for the first time? IT'S MAGIC. I seriously cannot wait to reread this, I loved this book so much. ps. There is this one scene where Sylvie gets a stomach bug and Dom is there taking care of her in his apartment AND IT'S GLORIOUS.

  4. 4 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    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 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?" "Very." 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. ** --- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    Woof, Lucy Parker was coming for my wig: GBBO type baking competition + grump/sunshine + rivals to lovers? So much trope candy for me! I absolutely LOVE the way Lucy Parker does character development... we slowly get to see the layers under the archetypes that she presents in the opening pages, and there's always tons of light, comedic moments that leave me smiling throughout. I did feel this one took a long time to ramp up (which is kind of odd considering how much plot is packed into this) and Woof, Lucy Parker was coming for my wig: GBBO type baking competition + grump/sunshine + rivals to lovers? So much trope candy for me! I absolutely LOVE the way Lucy Parker does character development... we slowly get to see the layers under the archetypes that she presents in the opening pages, and there's always tons of light, comedic moments that leave me smiling throughout. I did feel this one took a long time to ramp up (which is kind of odd considering how much plot is packed into this) and I'm not 100% sold on the transition from disliking each other to love. The royal storyline also hits different after everything with Harry& Megs has been coming out. But still, I always have fun in these books and this was no different

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    BAKING SHOW?!?!?!?!?!?! BAKING SHOW :) BAKING SHOW?!?!?!?!?!?! BAKING SHOW :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This is deliciously intriguing,limitlessly entertaining, laughing hard guaranteed, such a great combination of sunshine meets the grump troupe meets enemies to lovers premise ! Sylvia Fairchild reminds you of a Disney princess dancing with teacups, singing to the blue birds flying above her head, pouring out her perfect positive energy, walking on sunshine followed by rainbows. And she’s hell of a talented pastry chef! On the other hand, grumpy, irritatingly perfectionist, restless Dominic De This is deliciously intriguing,limitlessly entertaining, laughing hard guaranteed, such a great combination of sunshine meets the grump troupe meets enemies to lovers premise ! Sylvia Fairchild reminds you of a Disney princess dancing with teacups, singing to the blue birds flying above her head, pouring out her perfect positive energy, walking on sunshine followed by rainbows. And she’s hell of a talented pastry chef! On the other hand, grumpy, irritatingly perfectionist, restless Dominic De Vere who is probably a product of Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell’s one night stand( probably Simon carried the baby which explains his growing belly size), is considered one of the hottest chiefs of London but unfortunately that cruel man is also one of the judges of Operation Cake- another version of Great British Bake-off! And he dared to vote our miss sunshine off from the competition! But don’t worry! Revenge is served cold! Sweetheart Sylvia pursued her baking dreams with her successful launch of Sugar Fair, promoting her products on Instagram already put herself on the radar of Operation Cake producers and eccentric princess who urgently needs a wedding cake. But king’s favorite chief Dominic is also adored by A-lister celebrities, adamant to fight till he beats the hell of his rivalries. The worst part of the couple’s reunion is not sharing their judging responsibilities at Operation Cake show! They also have to compete to be the pastry chef of princess’ upcoming wedding! Knives out! Hats on! Let the pastry games begin! This book has a little slow start and it took more time for me to get into the story but don’t worry: to be patient will be rewarded with widening smalls and lots of fun! So stick to your read and do not even think to DNF this beauty! The opposite attract and rivals to friends and lovers theme worked amazingly well. The characters were well constructed. There is not a big conflict between characters instead of keeping eyes on the prize! Overall: I heard so great things about author’s works! This is my first rodeo with her and the results are so much enjoyable than I expected. This is sweet, sassy, funny, feel good reading! I’m looking forward to read other works of the author ASAP! Special thanks to NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  8. 4 out of 5

    WhiskeyintheJar

    3.5 stars I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Sylvie Fairchild was a contestant on a baking competition show, Operation Cake, where her tasty and whimsical bakes clashed with the uptight and proper style of judge Dominic De Vere. She was about to make the finals when her unicorn cake exploded and Dominic got a hoof to the head, he not so surprisingly voted her off. Four years later she has a patis 3.5 stars I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Sylvie Fairchild was a contestant on a baking competition show, Operation Cake, where her tasty and whimsical bakes clashed with the uptight and proper style of judge Dominic De Vere. She was about to make the finals when her unicorn cake exploded and Dominic got a hoof to the head, he not so surprisingly voted her off. Four years later she has a patisserie shop called Sugar Fair right across the street from established De Vere's and has been asked to be one of the judges on Operation Cake. The friction is still there between Sylvie and Dominic but with the grumpy and sunshine clash, there is a gruff and soft attraction. With a reality show to judge, a royal wedding contract to win, bakery espionage, family drama, and other life realities to live, Sylvie and Dominic keep finding themselves drawn by outside and inside influences. And just for that instant, beneath the unflappable chill, she saw a flash of startlement and something...else. Battle Royal is first in the Palace Insiders series and that is why I'm going to cut it a little slack on the amount of story here; a new universe for readers is being built. Usually, romances seem to want to build the focus to be the destination, our leads finally being in love. This is much more about the journey. Yes, our leads have a romance you follow, see build, and eventually find their way to love but the destination doesn't have that firework or finally feeling to it, it's much more subdued. Now, the journey, that is where all the emotion is but again, kind of subdued and your enjoyment of this story and it's characters is going to depend on if you like quiet everyday (in the fiction sense) falling in love. Powerful chemistry was quite a ride. The beginning with Sylvie's cake exploding delivered on what I usually think of a cartoon cover, rom-com, but the rest of the story had a more mature feel with an almost ache to the tone. The pace is considerate, with the gradual growing closer Sylvie and Dominic as they spend time together and get to know one another. However, most of the story has the two leads in their heads, I missed some of their connection because of this, I wanted to see the thoughts and feelings expressed outwardly towards each other instead of being told the inner thoughts. There was a moment around the 50% mark that had Dominic texting Sylvie to tell her he was going to be late and making sure she was ok, sort of outwardly showing but we only get a little of Sylvie's thoughts on him checking in. I wanted to “see” them connecting more, instead of mentally getting the feelings from them. It was probably slightly perverse to feel that growing warmth in his chest as she directed her list of grievances at him. And yet here they were. The more Sylvie stared daggers at him, the more inclined he was to pull her in. I mentioned how there was a lot of story and if some threads don't come back in some way in the series, I'm going to want some edited out even more so that the focus could have been more on Sylvie and Dominic. The reality show they're judging actually shocked me in how much it wasn't in the story, what really took over the time was the investigation work they do in order to win the bid for a royal wedding cake. The royal wedding has them investigating the favored uncle of the princess engaged and this leads to a mystery romance tale involving the uncle, that I thought stole too much of the spotlight. I can see how it ties into the princess and her own situation but again, not the main couple I'm here for, but just expect a sort of secondary couple romance to steal story from our main couple. Sylvie also deals with a rival managing to somehow copy her recipes and frankly, I think this whole thread could have been cut-out, especially the two main characters involved in it. Unless these characters matter latter in the series, they honestly added nothing to this story and, again, detracted from the main couple. There's some family and childhood trauma from Dominic's side but I thought this padded his character nicely and I loved his younger sister Pet (Petunia). There was also some emotional pull from issues involving Sylvie's childhood friend but I wish we could have known him more and seen them together more to pad that thread, definitely could have pulled the rival bakery thread in favor of this. However, the feeling of absolute faith that when the cracks started to appear, someone else would be crouching at your side, helping to bail out the water, and that you could do the same for them--- Pretty indescribable. There were a couple times in the beginning that I thought Dominic sunk into grumpy too far but when we get his childhood background, his cold exterior is given depth and the author plants enough little actions by him, like him always watching to make sure Sylvie got to her car late at night safe, even before they start to become friends, to let me warm up to him. This also might be an odd thing to mention but I liked, what I as an American identify as Englishisms (thank you Great British Bake Off for giving me a leg up here), it gave a sense of authenticity that I feel maybe gets changed or edited for American audiences. So lightly, so easily, she could say things that he'd never forget. I've read other books by this author and they have a tone and style that I like, it quietly reaches me, not unlike a Sonali Dev or Courtney Milan. This cover says rom-com to me but I would warn people to not go in looking for that tone. This was a mature, more about the journey than the destination, subdued, and quietly reaches you. It veered towards too many threads but maybe they'll play a part in the series. Sylvie and Dominic live up to their grumpy and sunshine and that is what I showed up for. The next in the series looks to be about Dominic's sister Pet and a royal personal protection officer. Y'all, this huge hulking quiet PPO gives tiny bright spirited Pet a teddy bear. SIGN ME UP.

  9. 4 out of 5

    aarya

    2021 Spring Bingo (#SpringIntoLoveBingo🌷): Competition or Reality TV Content Notes: (view spoiler)[discussion of grief (death of family members, including a vivid memory of a death scene in a hospital), parental neglect of child (memory), attempted knife attack (hide spoiler)] “Are you going after the royal wedding contract? Literally the cake of the year?” He hauled Sylvie’s chair around and leaned close. She widened her eyes at him innocently, and he clapped his hands together, a booming sla 2021 Spring Bingo (#SpringIntoLoveBingo🌷): Competition or Reality TV Content Notes: (view spoiler)[discussion of grief (death of family members, including a vivid memory of a death scene in a hospital), parental neglect of child (memory), attempted knife attack (hide spoiler)] “Are you going after the royal wedding contract? Literally the cake of the year?” He hauled Sylvie’s chair around and leaned close. She widened her eyes at him innocently, and he clapped his hands together, a booming slap that made her jump. “Oh, hells yeah. Judge versus judge. Neighbor pitted against neighbor. The kitten taking on the lion.” I adore Lucy Parker's contemporary romances, but I can't help but unfairly grade her romances on a slight curve. While I enjoyed myself, BATTLE ROYALE isn't my favorite of the author's work. Standard LP trademarks make the book wonderfully familiar with snark, grumpy/sunshine repartee, and meltingly-gooey feels. Still, there are enough irritants that make me downgrade to four stars. I definitely think the author's fans will love it and I recommend that they purchase/devour the book (devour in more than one sense of the word. You must have desserts on hand or the text will cause severe hunger pangs). A few disorganized thoughts: 1) I was cautious to see how the royal storyline would be handled, and I'm glad to report that I liked it! It's a tricky situation; UK royals yield VERY strong opinions amongst folks. I went into the story with an open mind. No, the book didn't tackle the institution's history with colonialism and racism, but I didn't expect that, lol. I'm not a stickler/expert in royal wedding cake protocol, so take my word with a grain of salt. Obviously some things are made up to add flair, but everything seemed plausible in a fantastical way. BATTLE ROYAL is smart to invent a set of British royals that isn't comparable to the real-life family tree. The bride is Princess Rose, second child to the second son of the king. Her father is the Duke of Albany (wiki says this title used to exist, but no one's held it since 1918) and that family branch lives in St. Giles Palace (invented, I presume it's a Kensington Palace equivalent). So Rose, eldest granddaughter to the king, is important enough to merit a high-profile wedding with tabloid attention, but isn't the heir to the throne or anything. The Archbishop of Canterbury still officiates the wedding, Rose's uncle is still the Prince of Wales, the traditional wedding cake is still fruitcake, etc. But enough details have been changed and I think the AU mostly works if you accept the fantasy. There's some discussion about obligation and what the spotlight does to royal family ties, but it's pretty basic (I think the truth is less optimistic and a lot more fucked up, lolsob). 2) Love, love, love the repeated theme of found family importance and how biological ties are meaningless without affection. Can't say more without spoiling. 3) I hate to say this, but I think there's too much plot. The royal cake competition, the reality TV competition, Dominic's relationship with his sister Pet, Sylvie's annoyance with the enemy café stealing her ideas, the spoilery royal-related storyline (there's TWO of them!). Not to mention, you know, the romance. For most of the book, I think the balancing act worked. But it hurtles toward a very bouncy/all-over-the-place final act because everything had to be resolved. Compared to the other storylines, I think the reality TV competition needed more attention (and I was pissed about how the show ended). Plus, there was a last-minute reveal at the 80% mark that I did NOT like (it needed more resolution if this complication had to be introduced! And I maintain that it did not! Dislike!). The last couple chapters did resolve the romance very nicely, but I was super tense/dissatisfied during the process. There was a lot of plot that needed to be resolved, and the attempts to do so were not compatible with my brain. One-sentence summary: excellent romance, quibbles with too much plot resolution during final act, everyone should read it anyway. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ambriehl Khalil

    Am I crying because this was so sugary sweet and wonderful, or because of PMS? We’ll never know.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Corina

    I'm so excited about this book. I absolutely ADORED Act Like It, it has such great banter, and it was one of my most favorite debut novels. Can't wait to dive into it.... FULL REVIEW I’m a big fan of THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF, and lately I’ve been reading more and more novels that focus on baking shows – like Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake – and I’m loving it. And although Dominic didn’t look anything like you know who from #GBBO, it was definitely him I imagined – lol. Also it didn’t hurt that I'm so excited about this book. I absolutely ADORED Act Like It, it has such great banter, and it was one of my most favorite debut novels. Can't wait to dive into it.... FULL REVIEW I’m a big fan of THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF, and lately I’ve been reading more and more novels that focus on baking shows – like Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake – and I’m loving it. And although Dominic didn’t look anything like you know who from #GBBO, it was definitely him I imagined – lol. Also it didn’t hurt that both main characters were older, established and successful in their career. Their relationship started on equal footing, it was more mature and low on drama. And their interactions were SWOONWORTHY!!! The book had much to offer, from the baking show, to the contract competition, to the royal drama – it had something for everyone. Also, the banter in BATTLE ROYAL was superb. I loved the quick witted and dry humor, and most of all the chemistry and obvious attraction between the couple. Besides the rivals to lovers trope, I also enjoyed the patchwork/found family trope – it has always been a favorite of mine, and it’s still something that I enjoy immensely – especially with so many great characters. Hoping to see some of them in future books. Overall the book was well written, maybe it dragged a little between the amazing dialogues, but the interaction between the characters was wonderful, and the characters themselves were memorable. I just lost steam at times, and that resulted in me reading the book in three big junks, with weeks in between each junk, and that wouldn’t have happened if the book would have hooked me 100%. But, truly, that’s all I could complain about. Otherwise the novel had everything I love about a great romance. ALMOST FOUR STARS ___________________________________ I received a copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author. You can find me on my blog and on Bookstagram

  12. 5 out of 5

    Blackjack

    I have my criticisms of this first book in Lucy Parker's new Palace Insiders series, but I'm left mostly with the good feelings I always have after reading one of this author's books. The romance is trademark swoony with characters who respect each other and treat each other with gentleness and kindness, and that's in spite of the grumpy/sunshine personality differences and early hostilities. Oddly too with this author, I generally need to reflect for a while before deciding how deeply her book I have my criticisms of this first book in Lucy Parker's new Palace Insiders series, but I'm left mostly with the good feelings I always have after reading one of this author's books. The romance is trademark swoony with characters who respect each other and treat each other with gentleness and kindness, and that's in spite of the grumpy/sunshine personality differences and early hostilities. Oddly too with this author, I generally need to reflect for a while before deciding how deeply her book impacts me. I am as of yet undecided if this is one I will return to for rereads. I wondered at the start of the book if Dominic DeVere (super cool name!) was a tad too unlikable. Having never been a fan of the acerbic Simon Cowell and his doppelgangers, I was predisposed to being skeptical of Dominic's abrasive judging of reality TV baking show contestants competing to do their best and willing to put themselves out there to be judged. I'm not a fan of reality TV and the mockery and mean spiritedness of the judging, and still, I kind of thought Parker was just a little heavy handed with Dominic's grouchiness as a judge. This is though Lucy Parker, who has shown time after time the ability to rehabilitate the grumps. The moment when contestant Sylvie air waves his overly harsh criticism aside, and his reaction is to feel intrigued by her, I knew everything was going to be okay. And mere pages later, we learn that Dominic stops working late every evening to wait outside his shop to ensure that his rival gets safety to her car. Parker is so adept at small moments and gestures. The book is filled with many of them between these two characters that make it worth reading just for these instances alone. If I was measuring this book against all the other new releases in 2021, it's a definite winner. However, measuring it against other Parker novels, it falls a little short of my favorites. Of particular note, there are far too many story lines and threads pulling our attention away from Sylvie and Dominic's romance, and I grew impatient. I also expected the baking show to function as the primary back story, and it strangely gets relegated to a minor plot, much to my disappointment. Instead attention is given more to the upcoming nuptials of two young royals searching for the perfect wedding cake, and their story interested me far less. Additionally, within their story is a micro story of their relatives and the long lost love between two royals from the WWII era. This development felt repetitive of the plot from The Austen Playbook when Freddy & Griff become historical detectives to discover why two broken-hearted lovers from previous decades endured a romantic tragedy that impacts life for future generations. Sylvie's and Dominic's sleuthing was not nearly as interesting here though, alas. I'll mention too that both main characters have lots of their own family drama with which to contend, some of it compelling - such as Dominic's wonderful young sister, Pet -- and some of it less engaging. Then there is the work sabotage of Sylvie's bakery, which felt repetitive from last year's Headliners when an employee was out to sabotage Sabrina & Nick's new daytime talk show. Then there is drama on the set of the baking show as one contestant is out to sabotage the others. Then there is an unrequited love story that threatens to harm Sylvie's and Dominic's budding new romance. The rest of the book is filled with so many characters that it felt like a novel bursting at the seams in places. I wanted to get my copy editor's red pen out and start scratching through unnecessary material. I wanted really though for Parker to focus on telling us a fabulous romance, which she can certainly do with both Sylvie and Dominic. I'm intrigued for Pet's story next, though I already have a little fear that the palace intrigue might upstage the romance, which sounds very promising. Special mention here of Humphrey, Dominic's melodramatic fat cat with the ability to upstage most people in any given scene. His entrance in the book is alone worth the price to read it. Not Parker's best book but one I still greatly enjoyed reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    romancelibrary

    I received an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. THIS BOOOOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK *SCREAMING* Sylvie first met Dominic 4 years ago when she was a contestant on the hit baking show Operation Cake. After a disastrous incident involving a unicorn cake, Dominic, one of the judges, voted Sylvie off the show. Now 4 years later, Sylvie and Dominic are rival bakers and their shops are located directly across the street from each other. And this time, they are both competing to bake the I received an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. THIS BOOOOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK *SCREAMING* Sylvie first met Dominic 4 years ago when she was a contestant on the hit baking show Operation Cake. After a disastrous incident involving a unicorn cake, Dominic, one of the judges, voted Sylvie off the show. Now 4 years later, Sylvie and Dominic are rival bakers and their shops are located directly across the street from each other. And this time, they are both competing to bake the cake for an upcoming royal wedding. Battle Royal is a tropetastic rivals to lovers romance. Sylvie and Dominic are opposites in personality and their baking styles reflect that disparity: Sylvie is all sunshine, colours, and sparkles, while Dominic is all starchy, classic, and tradition. Reader, the build up of tension and chemistry is a work of art. So. Freaking. Delicious. Dominic is blunt and emotionally distant. He has trouble expressing himself emotionally, especially through touch. I love how the author developed the emotional and physical intimacy between Sylvie and Dominic. The simple, but beautiful focus on HANDS. I am screaming just thinking about it. The romance completely swept me off my feet. I am so in love with Dominic and Sylvie 🥺 Another thing I loved about Sylvie and Dominic is that they are both in their mid to late thirties. Dominic even has strands of silver at his temples, which killed me by the way 🥵 And UGHHHHHHHHH the dialogue. The banter. The touches. The looks. THEIR STUPID HANDS. I am not okay!!!!! It's not often I lose my shit over books LOL. I will not apologize for all the fangirling. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the supporting characters! From the judges and contestants of Operation Cake to Sylvie's staff and friends, to Dominic's staff and younger sister, to the royal couple. In terms of plot, there was a lot going on, which at times affected the pacing of the story. The supporting characters had their own mini arcs that directly involved Dominic and Sylvie. I think the author did a great job converging all these plotlines at the climax. These mini arcs also added depth to Sylvie and Dominic's character and relationship development. One of the plotlines did feel a bit contrived and overdramatic, but the resolution was well-written and it didn't detract from the romance. So, while at first it felt like there was too much going on, ultimately, the resolution for all these small arcs was well-written and fit in the overall story organically. We also find out whose book is next!! I NEED Pet and Matthias's story now OMG!!!!!!!! P.S. I will also add as a side-note that this book deals with some heavier topics like child neglect and the death of loved ones. It doesn't get super dark, but those topics are an integral part of the character and relationship development.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sylvie

    Am I adding this book to my tbr merely because the mc and I share the same name? Plus it's a rom-com. :) Am I adding this book to my tbr merely because the mc and I share the same name? Plus it's a rom-com. :)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Antonella

    pro 😍 grumpy sunshine trope 😍 Great British Bake Off storyline 😍 rivals to lovers 😍 found family 😍Lucy's writing con 😏 too much plot 😏 which suffocated the romance part 😏 anything royal related sorry not sorry but I just don't care about the royal family 3,5⭐ pro 😍 grumpy sunshine trope 😍 Great British Bake Off storyline 😍 rivals to lovers 😍 found family 😍Lucy's writing con 😏 too much plot 😏 which suffocated the romance part 😏 anything royal related sorry not sorry but I just don't care about the royal family 3,5⭐

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this an A at AAR. Lucy Parker has another winner on her hands with Battle Royal, the first book in her new  Royal Insiders  series and also her first novel published under the Avon Imprint.   I’ve enjoyed all her books so far and have loved quite a few of them; they’re stylish and engaging and wonderfully romantic, featuring three-dimensional protagonists with chemistry that leaps off the page, strongly developed relationships, well-depicted settings and the sort of clever wit and hu I've given this an A at AAR. Lucy Parker has another winner on her hands with Battle Royal, the first book in her new  Royal Insiders  series and also her first novel published under the Avon Imprint.   I’ve enjoyed all her books so far and have loved quite a few of them; they’re stylish and engaging and wonderfully romantic, featuring three-dimensional protagonists with chemistry that leaps off the page, strongly developed relationships, well-depicted settings and the sort of clever wit and humour that I adore. Battle Royal is, I’m pleased to report, very much in the same vein. It’s a beautifully written grumpy/sunshine, enemies-to-lovers romance between rival bakers, packed with the vibrancy, fun, witty repartee and sexual tension that characterises her work, but there’s also a kind of gravitas here that sets it apart from her previous novels.  I don’t mean that the book is heavy or gloomy – far from it – just that some of its underlying themes are weighty, and the bittersweet overtones they lend to the story add layers of complexity to the characters and the plot that take the novel to another level and make it feel like so much more than a contemporary romance or romantic comedy. Four years earlier, Sylvie Fairchild was a contestant on Operation Cake and was doing fairly well.  Her bright and breezy personality caught the attention of the viewing public and her tasty, imaginative bakes were getting good marks – despite the view of stern judge – and London’s premier baker – Dominic De Vere that her creations were mostly style over substance. She had reached the semi-final stage of the competition when disaster struck, and an unplanned cake explosion landed a ton of glitter in Dominic’s hair and catapulted a cake-smeared unicorn hoof into his forehead.  Needless, to say, that was Sylvie’s last appearance on the show. Since then however, she’s set up the Sugar Fair bakery/patisserie – which just happens to be on the same street and directly opposite to De Vere’s  – and now, she’s been invited back to Operation Cake, but this time as one of the judges. Favoured by the royal family and something of a British institution, Dominic De Vere is hugely talented, brilliant and dedicated, but where Sylvie’s work is all heart and her colourful decorative style reflects her sunshiny, open personality, Dominic’s coolly aloof perfectionism favours classical, minimalist elegance and neutral tones.  As bakers – and individuals – their approaches and outlooks couldn’t be more different, something the producers of Operation Cake are clearly hoping will play well on television.  An extra layer to Sylvie and Dominic’s rivalry is added when a royal wedding is announced – and they’re both determined to secure the contract to supply the wedding cake. I loved so much about this book.  It’s perhaps a little slow to start, but once it gets going it became impossible to put down as the complex, multi-layered story the author is telling begins to unfold.  At the centre of it all is the opposites-attract romance between Sylvie and Dominic, which is simply gorgeous.  Their chemistry and mutual attraction crackle with sexual tension from the get-go, but the way their relationship develops is an exquisite slow-burn, fuelled by longing looks, flirtatious banter and glancing touches.  (Oh, the touches  – *sigh*) Dominic is, at first glance, your classic stuffed-shirt hero, emotionally distant, icy-cool and brutally honest, but as we get to know him, we discover a genuinely caring man beneath the world-weary exterior, one who longs for connection but fears rejection.  Sylvie is outgoing and vivacious and seems to be a complete contrast to Dominic, but it turns out they have more in common than either would have thought. Both have been profoundly affected by events in their pasts which continue to inform their choices, meaning they hold themselves apart – from people, from emotions… even from life.   The depth of the affection that underpins their interactions as they learn about and support each other in slowly coming to terms with their pasts is both genuine and heartfelt. One of the things I most liked about the relationship is that although Sylvie and Dominic are business rivals, there’s never any pettiness or sense that one is prepared to sabotage the other’s chances.  It’s clear that while they may not see eye to eye aesthetically, they respect each other’s skills and capabilities, so that their (initially) begrudging co-operation on their research (for the wedding cake tender) never seems unlikely or out of character. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Lucy Parker pulls her various story threads together extremely well and balances everything out both credibly and satisfactorily, never forgetting to keep Sylvie and Dominic’s romance at the forefront of the action.  As well as the TV show and the rivalry over the wedding cake, there’s a storyline involving Dominic’s younger sister Pet who’s decided to work for him in hopes of developing a relationship with the brother she barely knows; there’s a sleaze-bag café owner who keeps stealing Sylvie’s ideas, and a charmingly poignant love story from the past that emerges as Sylvie and Dominic search for inspiration for the royal cake.  I was pleased that the author chose to create a kind of AU royal family which bears little to no resemblance to the present incumbents, and the portions of the story that look at the toll taken by the weight of duty and living constantly in the media spotlight on even the strongest, most loving of relationships are thought-provoking.  There’s also a lovely exploration of the concept of family – both biological and found – and how shared DNA is meaningless without affection, and a superbly developed secondary cast who all have important roles to play.  Bubbly, loving Pet is delightful, Sylvie’s assistant Mabel – a woman of few words – is a terrifyingly no-nonsense hoot, and  I really hope there’s a book coming for Sylvie’s long-term best friend and business partner, Jay.   My only quibble overall is that there’s one overly dramatic plot-point near the end I could have done without (especially in such an already jam-packed story!) That niggle apart, this book is an utter delight and one I’m happy to recommend without reservation.  Sylvie and Dominic are perfect for one another and their romance is laden with affection, tenderness, and sexual tension as yummy as the patisserie. Touching and emotional yet whimsical and optimistic,  Battle Royal captivated me from start to finish, and I’m sure fans of the author’s and of contemporary romance in general will love it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    Headlines: 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-me Headlines: 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. Find this review at A Take From Two Cities Blog.

  18. 4 out of 5

    alerleees

    i mean...you can never go wrong with the grumpy/sunshine trope

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Great British Bakeoff meets enemies to lovers romance with a royal twist! Absolutely loved this. Lucy Parker is such a wonderful romance author and Battle Royal is no exception. Dominic De Vere is a judge on a baking show, one known for blunt and harsh criticism. His aesthetic is much like his demeanor: cold, straightlaced, and elegant. Sylvie Fairchild on the other hand is all glitter and fairytales. Four years ago she was a contestant on the show, ending her time when the hoof of her unicorn ca Great British Bakeoff meets enemies to lovers romance with a royal twist! Absolutely loved this. Lucy Parker is such a wonderful romance author and Battle Royal is no exception. Dominic De Vere is a judge on a baking show, one known for blunt and harsh criticism. His aesthetic is much like his demeanor: cold, straightlaced, and elegant. Sylvie Fairchild on the other hand is all glitter and fairytales. Four years ago she was a contestant on the show, ending her time when the hoof of her unicorn cake nailed Dominic in the head. Now they own rival bakeries and Sylvie is a new judge on the show. Oh and they're also competing for a commission to bake the wedding cake for a princess. This was such a lovely, fun, satisfying romance with a few mysterious subplots and a grumpy/sunshine relationship. If you haven't tried Lucy Parker before, this isn't a bad place to start! It's funny, a bit steamy, and has lots of heart. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    maddison

    Battle Royal is everything I didn’t know I needed. It is a baking competition, rivals to lovers, and a grumpy/sunshine romance. They are two rival bakers that do not get along. Sylvie prefers to bake colorful cakes whereas, Dominic prefers to bake minimalistic cakes. It begins with an event that occurred four years ago. Sylvie was competing on Operation Cake, a baking show when everything went wrong. Dominic was, and continues to be, a judge on Operation Cake, which is how the two met and the ri Battle Royal is everything I didn’t know I needed. It is a baking competition, rivals to lovers, and a grumpy/sunshine romance. They are two rival bakers that do not get along. Sylvie prefers to bake colorful cakes whereas, Dominic prefers to bake minimalistic cakes. It begins with an event that occurred four years ago. Sylvie was competing on Operation Cake, a baking show when everything went wrong. Dominic was, and continues to be, a judge on Operation Cake, which is how the two met and the rivalry began. When everything started to go wrong, Sylvie was proudly displaying her unicorn cake. The cake ended up sprinkling glitter all over Dominic's face. Or, more accurately, all over him, but most importantly, his face. She was unfortunately eliminated shortly after that. In the present, Sylvie and her closest friend Jay own and manage Sugar Fair, a bakery. Oh, and guess who is directly across the street... That's correct, De Vere's, Dominic's well-known bakery. However, a new season of Operation Cake is about to begin filming. The one and only Sylvie Fairchild will be joining them as the new judge. That's not too bad. Except now they've discovered they will be competing to make a wedding cake for the forthcoming Royal Wedding. And they both want their cake to be the one chosen by the royal couple. Dominic's sister, Pet, has stepped into being his PA just until his original PA gets back from an injury. Before Dominic left for his first day on the show, Pen cut out a silhouette of both the judges, Sylvie and Mariana. Only to have kept the silhouette of Sylvie in his office and tuck it into the edge of a photo frame on his desk. And every time he looks at it, the constant grumpy man suddenly feels his mood changing. The two of them are chosen to prepare the Royal couples wedding cake, and the pair has a lot of ideas for what they want on their cake. Like Johnny's favorite drink, which he wants as a cake flavor, but it's a secret recipe, so they have to figure it out. Rosie wants a cake with a portion of her great uncle Prince Patrick on it, but no one knows much about him. Now the two of them must not only figure out what this drink is and how to turn it into a cake, but they must also research Prince Patrick's background. Isn't it simple? No, not at all. As a result, the two of them will have to collaborate to figure out some of this. The development of their relationship continues to grow throughout the book. There are so many sweet, gentle touches that make you swoon because it is just that good. They can not seem to take their hands off of each other. Their first kiss has a magic touch to it. They compare hand sizes, which freaked me out since it was so fucking cute. You also get to observe Dominic look after Sylvie not just while she was sick, but also when she got scared by someone. That was the first time she hugged him and sobbed into his neck.... yep, I'm obsessed. I could go on and on about how beautiful they are together, but I don't want to spoil everything for anyone interested in reading it. I have a really good feeling this book is going to be extremely popular. I can not wait for the next book!!!! *Thank you to NetGallery for the ARC in exchange for an honest review*

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    This is yet another case of a snappy blurb and a cute illustrated cover not fully capturing the spirit of the contents (though at least this cover has actual character and isn't just featureless paper doll cut outs). The squabbling rivals-to-lovers story is there, but it's also a story of two aching, lonely people. The book is infused with pathos (the backstories are some of Lucy Parker's heaviest to date). But this actually worked for me. I loved how she tackled the depth of the characters' emo This is yet another case of a snappy blurb and a cute illustrated cover not fully capturing the spirit of the contents (though at least this cover has actual character and isn't just featureless paper doll cut outs). The squabbling rivals-to-lovers story is there, but it's also a story of two aching, lonely people. The book is infused with pathos (the backstories are some of Lucy Parker's heaviest to date). But this actually worked for me. I loved how she tackled the depth of the characters' emotions, and the theme of family being what you make of it. So, you know the adage that you should look in the mirror and take at least one accessory off before leaving the house? I wish Parker had translated that advice to her writing and dropped a few plotlines from this otherwise wonderful book before publication. Or, to use a more apt food metaphor, this had a few too many ingredients to really let all the flavour profiles shine. There is the reality baking show and its requisite tertiary character drama plus the royal wedding cake competition and its two (!) royal family subplots plus the plot of the plagiarizing rival business plus Dominic's relationship with his sister (lovely, looking forward to her book) plus Sylvie's relationship with her best friend (...no). And, of course, the central romance. Honestly, it's a credit to Parker's general skill that the book works as well as it does despite being overstuffed. It's really in the last 20% when the plots converge and all need resolving that you feel the strain. And a huge credit to the actual romance for carrying the whole thing. It was everything I've come to expect from Parker. She is so good at grumpy heroes. She lets them actually be grumpy! She does the real work behind building Dominic as a character and peeling back those layers of grumpiness. And Sylvie is a splendid heroine and bringer of joy with an unapologetically soft heart. Parker's romantic moments have such a beautiful stillness to them, where you feel like time stops and everything is just humming with anticipation (that first scene in Sugar Fair's Dark Forest, woooooof).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sometime

    I love all things Lucy Parker and had to read this book despite the fact that it has so many tropes that I really don't like: * Reality TV show * Royalty * Bakery (My dad owned a bakery and I worked there during my teen years, and trust me, it is not a romantic place. It is a lot of hard work and stress) Even with all those factors, I did enjoy the book. Sylvie of the pink-streaked hair and Dominic De Vere (how great is that name?) met on the set of a baking show when Sylvie was a contestant and Dom I love all things Lucy Parker and had to read this book despite the fact that it has so many tropes that I really don't like: * Reality TV show * Royalty * Bakery (My dad owned a bakery and I worked there during my teen years, and trust me, it is not a romantic place. It is a lot of hard work and stress) Even with all those factors, I did enjoy the book. Sylvie of the pink-streaked hair and Dominic De Vere (how great is that name?) met on the set of a baking show when Sylvie was a contestant and Dominic a judge. Dominic is serious, stoic and a bit cold. Sylvie is all glitter and unicorns. They couldn't be more opposite, yet at the same time more perfect for each other. Both Sylvie and Dominic own popular bakeries and are now both working as judges for a reality baking show. They are both vying for the job of making the cake for the upcoming royal wedding. These MCs were both a little damaged by their pasts but were fighters. They were so cute together and Lucy Parker excelled at the romance parts of this book. Where the book fell short for me (and why I only gave it 3 stars) is that the plot was all over the place. There was too much going on and new and crazy plot developments kept popping up. The story felt disjointed and messy. The villains of the story were easy to pick out and made the characters look stupid. I just wanted to enjoy the sweet romance between our MCs and not all the other stuff that kept flying around. All in all, this was a good book and I'm glad I read it. But it's not one I would reread, at least not anytime soon. I am intrigued by some hints about the romance in the coming book(s). I still love Lucy Parker's writing and her London Celebrity series is one of my all-time favorites. Safety(view spoiler)[ Neither virgins. Not much mention of romantic past, just that both had dated in the past but nothing serious. No OW drama, mild OM drama from h's friend and business partner. Mention of child neglect (H) and death of parents (h). (hide spoiler)]

  23. 5 out of 5

    ABookNook

    ✨The Great British Bake-off mixed with The Hating Game? SOLD 🙋🏽‍♀️✨ You know that moment where you are overwhelmed in the best way and you are just left sputtering in awe? That’s me after this book. Tropes: - grump/sunshine - enemies to lovers-ish? - rivals to lovers - workplace romance - opposites attract (buttoned up hero/eccentric heroine) - tension - hero falls first - banter CW: adoption, family desertion, family death (you don't see this, it just gets talked about) This book really got me f*cked ✨The Great British Bake-off mixed with The Hating Game? SOLD 🙋🏽‍♀️✨ You know that moment where you are overwhelmed in the best way and you are just left sputtering in awe? That’s me after this book. Tropes: - grump/sunshine - enemies to lovers-ish? - rivals to lovers - workplace romance - opposites attract (buttoned up hero/eccentric heroine) - tension - hero falls first - banter CW: adoption, family desertion, family death (you don't see this, it just gets talked about) This book really got me f*cked up. I love this book so much. It was full of the rivals to lovers (with zero immaturity) goodness, secret pining, humor, great characters, well done plot, emotion, everything I could ask for! Sylvie was endearing, determined, and wonderful to read. Dominic was the reserved asshole grump who would do anything for those he loves; just the way I like them 😏 Their chemistry was sizzling, I loved watching them slowly fall for each other. (That scene in the bar had me like🥺) From the very first page, I was hooked by their chemistry and their banter. The maturity of their relationship is was really grabbed me. I am getting tired of enemies to lovers where they behave like children. Sylvie and Dominic had their moments of fun and lightheartedness, but they always behaved like mature adults, especially in their rivalry; all while still delivering all the tension that a rivalry would. I know many people have problems with how immature or toxic The Hating Game can be, but I will tell you right now, you will not run into that problem with this book! The two characters handled every situation so well. This book did have a trope I am not a fan of, but it's fine. I was able to look past it. (It's the "heroine's best friend is in love with her" trope. Why can't guys and girls just be good friends?! Why does everyone have to be in love with each other?) The plot was chalk-full of great pacing and witty British zing and humor. I am not always a fan of British humor; this was done perfectly. I felt like I was reading a rom-com movie. The food element was flawlessly woven in. I loved it! The side characters were all so well done. I am so excited to read their stories. Pet and Matthias's story is up next and it is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Please Avon, I am begging you, I will sell my soul to read an ARC for that book. This book stole my heart from the very first page, hopefully it does the same for you. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/ 5 stars (rounded up) | 🌶🌶.5/ 5 steam Thank you to Avon and Lucy Parker for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion ❤️

  24. 4 out of 5

    StMargarets

    Lucy Parker begins a new series about “palace insiders.” The royal family is British, following the same customs, etc, but the characters are fictional. I think I prefer this approach than the made-up countries of other contemporary romances. The two commoners who are the “insiders” are our H/h. They own rival bakeries on the same street in London. They first met fours years ago when the heroine was contestant on a cake baking show and hero was one of the judges. H/h are the classic manic pixie Lucy Parker begins a new series about “palace insiders.” The royal family is British, following the same customs, etc, but the characters are fictional. I think I prefer this approach than the made-up countries of other contemporary romances. The two commoners who are the “insiders” are our H/h. They own rival bakeries on the same street in London. They first met fours years ago when the heroine was contestant on a cake baking show and hero was one of the judges. H/h are the classic manic pixie dream girl vs. the buttoned down hero. Their cakes are also a study in opposites. Heroine loves glitz and embellishments. Hero is all stark minimalism. They meet again when the heroine is invited to be a judge on the umpteenth season of the wildly popular baking show. When I first started reading, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this. The opposites-attract dynamic seemed cliched and the stakes of their romance didn’t seem all that high. Heroine appears to be content with her workaholic lifestyle, as does the hero. Even the rivalry to bake the cake for a royal wedding seemed more of a points-scoring rather than a dire financial/professional need. But – it changes. The amusing reality tv anecdotes give way to heartfelt backstory – of the H/h, the royal couple getting married, the hero’s sister. These are fully realized characters that are revealed slowly in dribs and drabs – kind of like real life. The patient reader is rewarded with two (three if you count a couple from the past) sweet love stories that are integral to the continued happiness of these characters. I think the next story in the series (hero’s sister stars) will be easier to access since the author lays a lot of sequel groundwork in this story. I’m guessing heroine’s business partner will also have his own book. I have to admit a prejudice against romances set in bakeries. I don’t know why – maybe because I don’t have a sweet tooth. In fact, there were several times in this story when I wanted to go brush my teeth or eat something with protein and salt. There are many descriptions of cakes, candies, and all the techniques that go into producing high-end baked goods. Not my thing at all. So that could account for some of my restlessness when I started the story. Still, this is a lovely story with some unexpected emotional depths.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Madison Warner Fairbanks

    Battle Royal by Lucy Parker Contemporary romantic comedy. Set in Notting Hill, London. Professional bakers Cecilia and Dominic meet again as judges on a TV show competition. Their attraction to each other plus a shared opportunity has them spending time together. Of course that leads to a romance but they have plenty of obstacles to deal with before their HEA. I absolutely adored this book. Plenty of humor, easy to imagine situations, a few sexy scenes and some emotionally deep issues cover the th Battle Royal by Lucy Parker Contemporary romantic comedy. Set in Notting Hill, London. Professional bakers Cecilia and Dominic meet again as judges on a TV show competition. Their attraction to each other plus a shared opportunity has them spending time together. Of course that leads to a romance but they have plenty of obstacles to deal with before their HEA. I absolutely adored this book. Plenty of humor, easy to imagine situations, a few sexy scenes and some emotionally deep issues cover the themes of everything you want in a romance. In Sylvie’s opinion, Dominic is too rigid and stoic. Below are a few short thoughts of hers as she gets to know him better. Excerpts: “She assumed that once she’d driven off in the early hours of the morning, he went back inside, plugged himself into a power outlet, and recharged his cyborg battery.” “It’s easier to absorb and act on constructive criticism if it’s softened by the acknowledgment of successes. You could aim for one proper compliment every hour. Maybe an occasional smile.” A fraction of a scowl appeared instead. “Our job is to perform an honest critique.” “I’m not suggesting you go overboard. We don’t want to stun the nation senseless. Two or three teeth at most.” Even if he could be surprisingly nice when he was sozzled. I received a copy of this from NetGalley. I also purchased a copy to gift.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’m afraid I didn’t like this book at all, and only finished it out of sheer bloody mindedness, determined to discover just *how much* I didn’t like it. I know lots of people have enjoyed it, in spite of mentioning some faults: too much plot, and a busy, rapid final act that tied up a dozen threads in minutes. I can definitely see why. It’s a great premise. Baking show rivals! Royal wedding cake competition! Grumpy/sunshine dynamic! It has some great banter, and there were moments of chemistry b I’m afraid I didn’t like this book at all, and only finished it out of sheer bloody mindedness, determined to discover just *how much* I didn’t like it. I know lots of people have enjoyed it, in spite of mentioning some faults: too much plot, and a busy, rapid final act that tied up a dozen threads in minutes. I can definitely see why. It’s a great premise. Baking show rivals! Royal wedding cake competition! Grumpy/sunshine dynamic! It has some great banter, and there were moments of chemistry between the MCs, Sylvie and Dominic, that I relished. Dominic is a touch-starved sad man who needs a hug - usually my catnip. But for me there was an undercurrent of unpleasantness at the heart of Battle Royal that I couldn’t square with the glittery unicorns and Bake Off hi-jinks on its surface. It’s not that it’s angsty; it’s that it’s sad and a little bit cruel. There is a proliferation of mean girl characters - sabotaging and hurting other people, with few repercussions; there are two violent brutal (and in one case definitely unnecessary) off-screen deaths of tertiary female characters; there is a tragic love story that ends in needless pain; there is a mentally ill woman used to leverage the drama of the last act… Add to that the difficult back stories of the main characters, and what’s left is a lot of darkness that’s made to taste sweet. I’ve read loads of romance books where bad things happen around the romance and the HEA, of course, and where there is a productive anger that drives the telling. Battle Royal didn’t feel productive to me in that way, it felt melodramatic, thwarted and frustrated, and it certainly wasn’t joyful. At the end Sylvie reflects that, despite everything that’s happened, the world is still magical. That wasn’t the impression I got from where I was standing. CWs: family rejection and abuse of children (emotional); deaths of parents, grandparent & aunt; estrangement from family; murder (tertiary character); death in a car accident (tertiary character); death from cancer (two tertiary characters); family member with dementia (tertiary character); stalking; undisclosed serious mental illness; violence leading to injury (secondary character).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christie«SHBBblogger»

    Title: Battle Royal Series: Palace Insiders #1 Author: Lucy Parker Release date: August 17, 2021 Cliffhanger: no Genre:rom-com, romance I've been wanting to read a Lucy Parker book for quite a while now and never seemed to get around to it. When I saw this adorable cover I was immediately intrigued. Then I read the synopsis, and I knew I I finally found the book that would introduce me to this author's work. I loved the idea of the romance centered in the cooking show world with a Simon Cowell-esque Title: Battle Royal Series: Palace Insiders #1 Author: Lucy Parker Release date: August 17, 2021 Cliffhanger: no Genre:rom-com, romance I've been wanting to read a Lucy Parker book for quite a while now and never seemed to get around to it. When I saw this adorable cover I was immediately intrigued. Then I read the synopsis, and I knew I I finally found the book that would introduce me to this author's work. I loved the idea of the romance centered in the cooking show world with a Simon Cowell-esque judge and a sunny contestant who epitomizes glitter and unicorns. It's an enemies to lovers, opposites attract romance loaded with witty humor on every page. Honestly, I was not expecting it to be quite as funny as it was. It reminded me when I first discovered Penny Reid's brand of wit because of how frequently I was chuckling out loud at the heroine's inner snark. Especially when it was directed at her arch nemesis, Dominic De Vere. She assumed that once she’d driven off in the early hours of the morning, he went back inside, plugged himself into a power outlet, and recharged his cyborg battery. Four years ago, Sylvie was an up-and-coming baker, looking for a way to get ahead in the baking industry. She had the raw talent, and figured that getting her name out there in the form of a competition baking show was the fastest way to do so. Fast forward to now, and her time on the show ended up making her one of the most infamous contestants in the history of the show. Not just because she was super talented at her craft-mainly it was that one incident with the exploding glitter unicorn that went off right in the steely-eyed, cold-hearted judge Dominic De Vere's face. Their animosity made the drama happy producers giddy. The constant bickering, barbs, and glares were at an endless supply, which was pretty unbelievable considering most people cowered at the slightest hint of his disapproval. As usual, any aversion to confrontation went into hibernation the moment those cool, emotionless eyes glanced over her. A provocative little devil always sashayed out to sit on her shoulder, prodding her more vociferously with every sardonic remark thrown her way. I loved Sylvie from page one. She's sassy, confident in herself, loyal to those she considers friends, and not afraid to be quirky and different. You have to admire anyone who builds a successful business right across the street from an established, world-renowned baker who seemingly hates her guts. He is everything that she is not. Controlled, starchy, and cold. His cakes are traditional with a capitol T. Hers are bright, odd, and probably perform some sort of awe inspiring trick. According to his criticism on the show, her talent was wasted on too much flash and not enough substance. Instead of crying in the corner, she set out to prove him wrong, and now she's his biggest opponent for the big jobs. There are jobs...and then there are the cement your name in the history books kind of jobs. Baking the cake for a royal wedding? It doesn't get any bigger than that. Sylvie and Dominic both want the honor of producing the cake that will skyrocket their reputation and boost sales for a very long time to come. While they both have very different approaches to cake baking, the potential clients are anything but traditional royals. That gives Sylvie a fighting chance to impress them if she can come up with a concept on par with Dominic's elegant mastery. Both are determined to come out on top and have every confidence that they can blow the other out of the water. What they didn't expect was spending so much time around each other and almost...sort of...starting to like each other. Or getting to know their opponent at a deeper level and discovering that they are so much more than their initial judgements of each other. “Four years ago, if someone had told me that one day I’d never find greater comfort than in the sound of your voice and the scratch of your stubble, I’d have questioned their sanity.” So lightly, so easily, she could say things that he’d never forget. Dominic may be cold on the outside, but he cares deeply for the well being of his employees and struggles with the damaged relationship he has with his sister. He strives every day to live up to the memory of his grandfather who founded De Vere's, and is haunted by experiences in his childhood. As he slowly opens up to Sylvie and shows her his more vulnerable self, she sees the caring man that very few people are lucky enough to see. He's always on guard, but she somehow gets past all his defenses. The two of them shouldn't work, but once they get real with each other, it feels as if no one else could ever work quite so well. Sylvie brings smiles, sunshine, and laughter back into his life. She tames his satanic cat, and gives him a shoulder to lean on after feeling alone for more years than he cares to remember. She helps him communicate his uncomfortable emotions and start to rebuild his tenuous relationship with his sister Petunia. As the date gets closer to decision day on possibly the biggest gig that either of them could possibly land, how will this affect their budding feelings for each other? I had a feeling how this conflict would be resolved, and I won't lie, my predictions were right. I also guessed early on who was leaking Sylvie's recipes to a slimy rival. That being said, it didn't bother me that I wasn't taken by surprise. I did wish that there had been more of the story focused on the baking show as that was what initially drew me into reading the book. I'm a big fan of competitive baking shows so I was really looking forward to watching a romance unfold in that world. However, the focus was more on the royal wedding cake, and investigating a mini mystery on the side. That didn't affect my rating or enjoyment that much, and it won't be an issue for many others. It's purely a subjective niggle for me personally. If you're looking for a book with loads of humor and a perfect opposites attract couple, this is the book for you. This was just the light read that I was looking for that delivered the goods and then some! I was so thrilled with my first Lucy Parker read and I'm really excited to see what's to come next in this brand new series. I'm thinking it's going to be Dominic's sister Pet and a certain bodyguard who couldn't take his eyes off of her. I absolutely loved Pet and I know her story is going to be just as good if not better. Let the book stalking commence. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:

  28. 4 out of 5

    Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth

    TITLE: BATTLE ROYAL AUTHOR: Lucy Parker SERIES: Palace Insiders #1 RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2020 GENRE: RomCom THEMES & TROPES: Opposites Attract, Bake Shows, Reality TV RATING: 5 Stars CLIFFHANGER: No The giddy feeling when you know you've found a new author to obsess over is priceless. BATTLE ROYAL is my first experience with Lucy Parker and I see a long author-reader relationship in the future for the two of us. I adored every single thing about this story. Sylvie is the heroine of my dreams. Mello TITLE: BATTLE ROYAL AUTHOR: Lucy Parker SERIES: Palace Insiders #1 RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2020 GENRE: RomCom THEMES & TROPES: Opposites Attract, Bake Shows, Reality TV RATING: 5 Stars CLIFFHANGER: No The giddy feeling when you know you've found a new author to obsess over is priceless. BATTLE ROYAL is my first experience with Lucy Parker and I see a long author-reader relationship in the future for the two of us. I adored every single thing about this story. Sylvie is the heroine of my dreams. Mellow, clever, witty and with a heart of gold, I fell in love with her from the prologue when she doused a stoic, arrogant bake show judge Dominic in a unicorn glitter cake. All on camera, to the delight of every reality tv fan. He was hard to get a read on but the more I got to know him the more obvious it became that this was a character who felt deeply and who took care of those he loved. Dominic had a surprising tenderness and sweetness about him that I didn't think someone who seemed to lack warmth could have. Coolly, he said, “Jealousy is a destructive, pointless emotion and a complete waste of energy.” “Fairly annoying, then, that it’s seeping from your pores right now?” “Very.” These two are as opposite as they can be yet their deepening feelings felt completely natural and credible. Both were scared to let someone in for fear of getting hurt. Sylvie had experienced loss when her aunt passed away, the person who raised her, the only parent she knew. Dominic came from a rotten home, with parents who didn't deserve the moniker. She finally raised her gaze higher than the scattering of hair and freckles on his bare chest—and saw, in that cool, experienced, always imperturbable face, a reflection of everything she was struggling with. At sea with the intensity of feeling. The uncertainty of the new. The fear of not being enough. I laughed out loud so many times, I grinned and chuckled pretty much on every page - Lucy Parker writes a mean rom-com yet at the same time she surprised me with an emotional depth that made me choke up a little. I wasn't prepared for that but it showed me what an amazing talent this author is. If you love characters with lots of layers, who are lovable and relatable, a sprinkle of British Royalty and a bake show setting don't hesitate. I enjoyed this book so much that I was sad when I was done. “You walked into my life, tipped it upside down, and when it finally righted—you were right there in the center.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is utterly DELICIOUS in every possible way. I've loved every novel Lucy Parker has ever written - she's one of my absolute top drop-everything-to-read-her-new-book-NOW! authors, and one of the authors whose books I re-read most often for comfort - but this one might be my very favorite out of all of them so far. It's a warm and witty rom-com with genuinely hilarious moments, but it also has a seriously intense emotional core. She does such an incredible job of writing characters who fe This book is utterly DELICIOUS in every possible way. I've loved every novel Lucy Parker has ever written - she's one of my absolute top drop-everything-to-read-her-new-book-NOW! authors, and one of the authors whose books I re-read most often for comfort - but this one might be my very favorite out of all of them so far. It's a warm and witty rom-com with genuinely hilarious moments, but it also has a seriously intense emotional core. She does such an incredible job of writing characters who feel absolutely real - and making their growing emotional connections so vivid, tangible, and truly magical. And this book is absolutely full of cake! The hero and heroine met 4 years earlier when he was one of the judges in a Great British Bake-Off style reality show and she was the contestant whose tastes were absolutely opposed to his; now they're both judges on the same show while also running rival patisseries in Notting Hill AND competing for the contract on a royal wedding cake. (And don't worry, you do NOT have to be a royalist to enjoy that storyline, I promise - Parker writes an alternate, fictional British royal family but writes them with a very smart and nuanced portrayal that feels VERY realistic.) Hilarious, delicious, heartwrenching, and ultimately SO swoon-worthy - I absolutely loved every page and can't wait to read it again many times. (But I am also now DESPERATE for Book 2 in this series - and SO hopeful that I'm right about which potential couple will star in it!)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica LatestBookCrush

    I finished reading this last night, and I don't think I could have loved it more. Enemies-to-lovers? Check. Royal wedding? Check. Cozy British baking show? Check, and double check.⠀ ⠀ It's not all sparkly unicorn cakes and soggy bottoms though, there is a lot of deep and very real-feeling family relationship stuff brought up in this book too. But it was lovely watching how each of the characters grew, and helped each other, and ultimately made their own families.⠀ ⠀ Plus, what is it about baking sho I finished reading this last night, and I don't think I could have loved it more. Enemies-to-lovers? Check. Royal wedding? Check. Cozy British baking show? Check, and double check.⠀ ⠀ It's not all sparkly unicorn cakes and soggy bottoms though, there is a lot of deep and very real-feeling family relationship stuff brought up in this book too. But it was lovely watching how each of the characters grew, and helped each other, and ultimately made their own families.⠀ ⠀ Plus, what is it about baking shows (watching them or reading about them) that makes you feel like you're getting a warm jammy-sponge-hug? Even when the bakes are a disaster and everything is going wrong, it is just so gosh-darn-delightful.⠀ ⠀ You're for sure going to want this one on your list. It comes out on Aug 17. Oh and did I mention this is the first book in a new series called Palace Insiders?!

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