The Line of Succession 2: Acts of Treason, Harry F Rey
Rating: 5 Stars
Publisher: Deep Desires Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Royal Family, Romance, Drama/Soap Opera-y, Erotic, Suspense
Length: 38,000 Words
An impending engagement brings new and strange bedfellows for Andrew and Prince James as Princess Alexandra ramps up her feminist push for the Crown. But Lizzie has her own, far deadlier, agenda, which threatens to blow the entire line of succession wide open.
In Line of Succession 2: Acts of Treason Prince James and his lover of fifteen years, Andrew Hodes, are no longer sharing time or a bed at James’ personal residence. Clarence House has long been a private oasis for both men, a place they could be together and be themselves away from prying eyes. The staff there are long-standing, discreet, and supportive. However, it was agreed upon at the end of the last book that they needed to not appear to be so close. The idea seemed to have some measured reason behind it but with so much currently happening it’s proving difficult for them both. Still, James is doing what he has to with an impending engagement to Princess Katyn of Sweden looming. There is no love. They hardly know one anther, and James is gay. It was a set up, combined with a flustered interview by Andrew when he was James’ press secretary. It backed James into a well orchestrated corner. James’ grandmother, Victoria II, is ninety and the reigning queen. Victoria wants royal babies from the male of the family. She wants James to marry Katyn and get her pregnant before she can hand over the Crown to him. Before she dies. He can look upon it solely as duty to family and country, Victoria doesn’t care. He just needs to get the ‘job’ done.
Meanwhile, Princess Alexandra’s designs on the throne are growing. She doesn’t agree with gender as a predetermining factor on who becomes the monarch. She’s a strong, contemporary woman who believes her father wanted to change the line of succession for her. A letter she received before he died indicated that as the oldest (by minutes) she should rule. She’s also discovered there was growing support for her father’s controversial ideas before his death. Alexandra being married to a Saudi royal, Faisal, does not endear her to the Queen. Victoria is neither impressed with nor interested in biracial children and a queen with a Saudi husband. The British people will not stand for it and neither will Victoria.
Why does it even matter whom the occupant is? Alexandra couldn’t fathom it. Not now and not ever. How the color of a potential monarchs’ skin could engender such a hatred from the establishment that she’d been forced to plot against her own brother (…)
So the royal twins have their individual problems: Alexandra doesn’t fit the tradition associated with the line of succession. Her husband is ‘unacceptable’ to be a queen’s consort, her children discounted – and, of course, one of them would succeed their mother. James is gay and loves another man. He doesn’t want to marry and have children. He parties hard and would like to continue doing what he likes. He’d like to wake up next to Andrew and be a part of his life. He also has hook-ups with other men that Andrew (usually) arranges. They have a system in place that allows them to hide James’ identity for any liaisons they have. But there are times he’d like to “code red” out of this life, escape, just live as he wants with Andrew. Damn the duty, damn the ramifications. However, all his life he’s been raised to be the king, the birthright of a man, especially after his father died. He is at odds with himself over his love, his desires, and his inculcated, if not increasingly muted, sense of duty.
Alexandra believes herself to be the most capable. Others around her believe the same thing. In many ways she is. She’s smart and regal yet, ridiculously, gender stops her rise to the role she covets. She spends her time on causes near to her, also attempting to shore up support, playing pieces on a chess board, cajoling and manipulating. James, on the other hand, has spent a lot of time trying to numb himself, never able to come out of the closet. With expectations of marriage and siring an heir closing in, he is finding some small inner reserves, but he’s still in a bind, and all without Andrew by his side. I really want this pair to be happy. I often vacillate between James being an open and accepted gay monarch with Andrew by his side, or having pressure taken off altogether. At the same time, I feel like Alexandra has proven her worth with her smarts and her concerns about what happens to the country and beyond. Her calculated aspirations. However, to say that this pair are the only ones with ambitions around the line of succession would be false.
The Line of Succession 2 has so much going for it. If I gasped once, I swear I gasped a dozen times at the underhanded and calculating people in this world, the stops that they would pull out for their agenda, at revelations that are peeled away via a non-linear narrative. Non-linear timelines rarely work for me but Harry F. Rey uses it perfectly to weave an intriguing series storyline. There are several main players and several arcs, with one overarching plot – the Crown. Who will wear it? How will that occur? How much of a mess will it be, and what bodies will be left in the wake? The other important questions that remain are, can James come out and live the life he wants? Will Andrew and James be able to find their way back to one another? They have made some incorrect assumptions about one another lately, accumulating personal water under the bridge. Also, does misogyny win? Some historical and current pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are definitely unclear to either of them but are being revealed piece by piece to the reader. There are games both James and Alexandra have to endure, manoeuvre around, and make decisions about that the other isn’t aware of. Andrew faces his own demons, no longer working for James, with the offer of a new job, one that could fracture their connection forever. New threats, blatant ones, are added. There are worries about sensational and damaging headlines looming, a tell-all book that is being hinted at but (we know) definitely exists, and there’s one major game changer that occurs right near the end of this book. Yes, indeed. I’m totally hooked.
Bill threw up his hands. “Fine, fine. So you want me to bin tomorrow’s front page, at,” Bill glanced at his watch, “quarter to eleven. Kill the story of the decade, in favor of … what, exactly?”
“The story of the century.”
I love that there is an air of believability about this fictional series. Sure there are some things that seem impossible but fact is often stranger than fiction. Everyday, decent people can be disbelieving to just how much absolute power corrupts absolutely, the behaviour control engenders in some, and the author trades very well on this concept. I don’t know anything about Harry F. Rey but I feel sure he is a royal watcher, and as a lover of history it was interesting to see Piers Gaveston’s name appear, and in such perfect context.
There is social commentary in this book. It speaks of a long (still ongoing) history of discrimination; gay men, in this instance, women, xenophobia, ideas that are long past their expiration date. It isn’t beating a drum, it’s just there in subtext and thoughts, and I really appreciate it.
A reader’s heads up. First off, this review is fairly vague so as not to spoil the series thus far for any prospective readers. Also, if you like your gay romance (or MM) with the MCs being completely monogamous then this book may bother you. It’s a book filled with drama, manipulation, lust, love, intrigue, suspense, and erotic romance – James and Andrew fuck around with others. They are not always in the same place together. Various members of a small but powerful ensemble cast continue to get page time, as well as plans or plots that are either unravelling or coming together, depends on how you look at it. If you prefer everything wrapped up within one book then it may not suit – however, you can wait until the last one and then binge them. My addiction is such, that I wish I had found this series further into the future where future me could lie in bed with the full series, my pjs on, a Milo and a bickie or two by my side, while binge reading the blazes out of it over a weekend.
Again. My only niggle: Americanised English for a story set in England – favor, color, realized…
After reading The Line of Succession 2: Acts of Treason I can officially declare that this series is my personal crack. I’ve read book’s #1 and #2 and I can’t wait for book #3 now – and this instalment isn’t released until April 2nd. *Bites nails.
I’m revelling in the political machinations and ramifications, the royal jockeying. I’m soaking up all of the drama and intrigue, the eroticism, like a thirsty sponge. There are some dodgy people in this world of aristocracy, money, power, bed hopping and messy affairs, and talk about six degrees of separation. The events set in motion seventeen years prior, that came to pass fifteen years ago, are now all coming together in the most shocking ways. Oh, the scandal! The past and present are so entwined it’s hard to know who will come out unscathed. If you like the sound of what’s in this review, I recommend you grab a copy of book #1 and start some awesome reading pleasure. 5 Stars!