A review by rebroxannape
Battle Royal by Lucy Parker


Sylvie had seen dozens of his own, incredibly expensive cakes in his London bakery. His preferred color palette covered a diverse range from white to ivory. Sometimes he really pushed the boat out and ventured into the realms of cream. Once at a black-tie event, she’d spotted a De Vere cake on the banquet table that actually had gold accents, and assumed he was either extremely unwell or suffering an early-onset midlife crisis....He went in for elegant minimalism. She rarely saw an object that couldn’t be improved with sequins.

A strong ending can make up for a lot. I had just finished my first book by this author on audio, and I was thinking that I would probably enjoy her next novel more if I legit read it instead of listening to it. I was a little disappointed. I liked the plot and the subplots and the characters. Her dialogue was again sharp and witty. Unfortunately, it turned in to be a bit of a slog through the middle. It wasn’t the surfeit of plots. There was a lot going on, sure, but I like that in a light romance. In addition to the main courtship between the two opposite attract bakers, there was the competition on the baking show they were judging, the relationship between the princess and her unusual fiance for whom our leads are designing their wedding cakes, the fraught relationship between the hero and his little sister who has just re-entered his life, the tragic love story of the princess's beloved late uncle whom she wants to be honored in the design of their cake, the quest to duplicate the taste of the groom’s favorite drink from a rival cafe. There’s also a mystery to solve, a stalker to deal with, and some cloak and dagger shenanigans into the mix. And also a beloved friend who is secretly dealing with unrequited love.

So that was all OK. What held me back and slowed me down was Lucy Parker’s writing style. Which I guess was disguised by the audio narration? Her sentences are sometimes convoluted, incomplete, or incoherent. I ran into a lot of non-sequiturs and tense problems. I had to constantly re-read for understanding. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
Sylvie seriously hoped that Abbey Hall could provide a metaphorical key, turn an elusive shade into a personality and a soul with hopes and dreams and loves.

I mean why not just say “she hoped that Abbey Hall could provide the key to turning an elusive shade into…”
“Does it make you uncomfortable when I . . .” Seemed to be increasingly drawn to reach out to him—and with nothing casual about it.

Because Sylvie’s brain was frequently a complete twat, what popped into her head then was a limerick she’d heard at her local pub. It involved both Rosie’s grandfather and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s penis, and might as well be subtitled “How to Hand Dominic This Entire Contract in One Smutty Poem.” In lieu of that option, she went with Thought B. “Our initial meeting was understandably kept well under wraps. And very separate.” She emphasized the last word.

That he’d let people who’d long since lost his respect, let alone any chance at love, leave even the smallest scar. And that he couldn’t deny it had chipped something away from even the most casual of his other relationships. That voice when he was with her? Not gone. But so quiet right now as to be almost negligible.
I don’t mind quirky, but she sometimes seems to be trying too hard. Reading the book often felt like I was driving down a peaceful country road, but just kept having to go over speedbumps and avoid potholes. But I still kept driving! I didn't turn off. I just had to stop at a rest area or two before I continued. I still like her, I mostly enjoy her plots, characters, and the romance. I am looking forward to more books in the two series by her I have started.
**3 1/2 stars**