REVIEW: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

In brief: Vivian and her daughter Maddie are on a trip to London. For Maddie it’s work, but Vivian turns out to have more fun than she expected…

The good: Very light with enjoyable characters and scenes.

The not-so-good: Some of your enjoyment may depend on your thoughts about the Royal Family…

Why I chose it: Loving The Wedding Date series (this is book 4).

Year: 2019

Pages: 295

Publisher: Headline Eternal (Hachette)

Setting: London and San Francisco

Rating: 9 out of 10

The previous week was even more chaotic than usual and when I got home, I just wanted to chill with a story that entertained me without demanding my entire brain. (That meant the book on immunity and vaccination was out). While Royal Holiday didn’t demand all my brain, it took all of my heart. It’s a lovely, charming story with Guillory’s key food references (this time it’s British scones).

Maddie (from The Wedding Party) and her mum Vivian are on their way to England for a very different Christmas. For Maddie, it’s work but for Vivian, it’s a holiday. Maddie is dressing the Duchess (possibly of Sussex, although it is never spelled out) for the holiday season. Vivian meets private secretary to the Queen, Malcolm when he appears in the kitchen looking for scones. They hit it off straight away, with Vivian doing things she never dreamed of (riding a horse, meeting the Queen). Vivian has always led a cautious life, but Malcolm teases out why and encourages her to try new things. Of course, there are hiccups along the way – Vivian likes to talk things out while Malcolm is silent and prefers not to go back on what he said. Plus, they live continents apart so this thing is just a fling…right?

The conflicts between Vivian and Malcolm never last more than a couple of chapters or so, which is good for low angst tolerability but might be annoying if you like your dramas teased out. Also, if you’re not a Harry and Meghan fan, the identity of the Duke and Duchess is never shared fully, but there is enough to fit them into those roles. This is a Christmas holiday romance, but it wasn’t Christmas to the extreme, more a low key ‘difference between the US and the UK’. What I liked is how Vivian’s work dilemmas were thought out (she has been approached for a management position, but she’s not certain that it will make her happy). This really resonated with me, and was nicely juxtapositioned against Malcolm’s nephew’s choice to pursue passion over what was expected of him.

Royal Holiday was less complex than the previous books in The Wedding Date series with fewer subplots troubling the characters. That didn’t bother me when I read it, but it might be a bit of a surprise if read back-to-back with the earlier books in the series. The tension and drama were not quite as high, but I didn’t care. This was simply enjoyable and a great example of mature age romance.

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