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3 Stars / Harlequin / Mills & Boon / Review

Cinderella’s Royal Secret by Lynne Graham

Cinderella's Royal Secret by Lynne Graham

His until midnight…

Bound by her nine-month surprise!

Izzy Campbell has no time for love – she’s too busy cleaning houses to support her family. Accidentally interrupting her most exclusive client, sheikh Rafiq, coming out of the shower is mortifying…yet their instantaneous attraction leads to the most amazing night of innocent Izzy’s life! But then she does a pregnancy test…

Crown Prince Rafiq’s world changes the instant Izzy arrives in his desert kingdom and reveals her royal secret. He always thought he could never have children, so he’s determined to make this pregnant Cinderella his queen!

Title:Cinderella’s Royal Secret
Author:Lynne Graham
Series:Modern
Pages:192
Genre(s):Harlequin / Mills & Boon
Trope(s):Fairytale
Cinderella
Royal Romance
Point of View:
Location:UK / Middle East
HEA:✔️
Release Date:May 28th, 2020
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Likeable with a few issues

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a Mills & Boon – and more specifically a Mills & Boon about a handsome sheikh (okay fine, so he’s a crown prince) and the virginal British girl that he steals away to live in his desert kingdom. Sigh. And for the most part, that’s what you get with this book.

Our couple have their “meet cute” in the form of our heroine, Izzy, coming into the bathroom to clean it just as our hero, Rafiq, steps out of the shower! In a bind, Rafiq asks if Izzy can cook, as well as clean for him – hence the Cinderella aspect of the story.

Rafiq is less sheikhy (totally a word) than I expected. Still with an air of authority and alpha entitlement, but not so dictatorial and old-fashioned as I would have assumed. And I loved the fact that he was a little bit emotionally damaged, the poor baby. I just wanted to give him a big hug – very little of which was because of the fact he’s ridiculously good looking! He was a bit of a sweetheart and I did like him.

My feelings for Izzy were a little bit more fuzzy. Not the character’s fault but when Rafiq sets eyes on her he notes she barely looks like a woman – more like a young girl. That’s just…icky! He changes his mind quite quickly but can we please stop using this to show our heroine is young, petite, small etc? It doesn’t sit well with me.

“There was a nice lick of heat with the story – more than I’ve come to expect from this line.”

I can imagine it’s difficult to write a character with a bit of back bone, grit and determination without having her come across as, well, too much. Izzy wasn’t too much – but I did feel confused by her. Was she this shy, virginal girl – or the mouthy, irreverent seductress? Despite this confusion, I was starting to like Izzy more and more – and cheered her spirit in standing up to Rafiq – and going after him when she found herself pregnant. Then the issue of where their offspring would live came up and any liking I had for Izzy went right out the window. What an immature brat she was. It’s one thing to have a character say something, it’s another for their inner monologue to show that they believe it to be true. Really disappointing and from there I felt Rafiq could have/should have chosen someone closer to his age (28) than this immature 21 year old.

There was a nice lick of heat with the story – more than I’ve come to expect from this line. It wasn’t erotica by any stretch, but I was pleasantly surprised. It also helped that Izzy and Rafiq had good chemistry and you could feel their growing desire and love for each other in their actions.

The story was simple and focussed on the love story of Rafiq and Izzy – how they met, got pregnant and then fell in love – overcoming their issues on the way. There were a couple of flowery moments where it felt like words – or sometimes whole sentences – were fed into a thesaurus and changed to appear more fancy. It wasn’t necessary and at times it made sentence structure a bit clumsy and somewhat convoluted. As I said, a shame because the story was eminently readable and I rattled through it for the most part.

There was also some head hopping going on – sometimes changing after 2-3 paragraphs with no notice of a change of perspective. It was dizzying and again led to re-reading some passages once it became apparent we were in someone else’s head than I had initially realised.

I feel like I’ve been a bit moany with this review – but I did very much enjoy this book. It delivers what it sets out to deliver and you will speed through it in no time. There’s also a nice tease about Izzy’s twin sister, Maya, and her own story, which I’m assuming will be Book 2 in the Once Upon a Temptation series of which this is the first. If you enjoy Mills & Boon Modern stories, Lynne Graham’s writing or just want whisked away with a sheikh fantasy (yeah, yeah, crown prince) then you will likely enjoy this story. 3 stars from me.

Lynne Graham was born in Northern Ireland and has been a keen romance reader since her teens. She is very happily married, with an understanding husband who has learned to cook since she started to write! Her five children keep her on her toes, and her grandchildren keep her happy. She reads a newspaper every day, listens to dance music in the car and doesn’t like romantic movies with unhappy endings. Lynne loves being a writer. The most satisfaction Lynne gets out of writing is hearing that a reader enjoyed her book(s). Happy readers inspire her. The biggest thrill she gets is seeing one of her books for sale in a shop or online.

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