Codename charming

Lucy Parker

Book - 2023

"Petunia De Vere enjoys being the personal assistant to lovable, bumbling Johnny Marchmont. But the job has its share of challenges, including the royal's giant, intimidating bodyguard, Matthias. Pet and Matthias are polar opposites--she's spontaneous and enthusiastic, he's rigid and stoic--but she can sense there's something softer underneath that tough exterior ... For Matthias Vaughn, protecting others is the name of the game. But keeping his royal charge out of troub...le is more difficult than he imagined because everywhere Johnny goes, calamity ensues, and his petite, bubbly assistant is often caught in the fray. Matthias hates the idea of Pet getting hurt and he's determined to keep everyone safe, even if it means clashing with his adorable new coworker. When a clumsy moment leads to a questionable tabloid photo, the press begins to speculate that Pet is romantically involved with Johnny. To put an end to the rumors, the royal PR team asks Pet and Matthias to stage a fake relationship and the two reluctantly agree. But as they spend more time together outside of work, they begin to wonder what real emotions this pretend connection might uncover. Especially when a passionate kiss leaves both of their heads spinning ..."--

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Parker, Lucy (Novelist). Palace insiders.
Avon romance.
Romance fiction
New York, NY : Avon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2023]
First edition
Physical Description
376 pages ; 21 cm
Main Author
Lucy Parker (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Petunia "Pet" De Vere would have said that she would do anything for her employer, Johnny Marchmont, and his wife, Princess Rose of Albany, but pretending to be infatuated with Matthias Vaughn might be asking just a bit too much. After all, it isn't like Pet has been able to pry more than a syllable or two--let alone a smile--out of the tall, dark, and cranky royal guard. However, the only hope the newlywed royal couple has of dispelling the totally false gossip that Johnny and Pet are a romantic item is by giving the paparazzi something else to chase down. So now, as the stars of operation Codename Charming, Pet and Matthias have no choice but to quickly figure out how to make their new fauxmance seem real for the cameras. After introducing Pet and Matthias as secondary characters in Battle Royal (2021), Parker blithely continues to wage her brilliantly executed charm campaign with readers by delivering a grumpy-sunshine love story that radiates delightfully acerbic wit, smoldering sexual chemistry, and swoon-worthy sweet romance.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Parker (Battle Royal) pairs a palace aide with her security guard colleague in a contemporary romance that expertly balances heat and heart. Petunia "Pet" De Vere is an aide to disaster-prone Johnny Marchmont, the new husband of Princess Rose of Albany, fourth in line to the British throne. Matthias Vaughn, Johnny's senior personal protection officer, has rescued Pet from numerous sticky situations (including a knife attack intended for Johnny), but he'd like to be more to her than just a bodyguard. After a sketchy tabloid reporter takes an innocent picture of Pet and Johnny and alleges they're having an affair, Pet and Matthias agree to pretend they're involved with each other to quash the rumors. Their fake relationship inevitably turns real, but the road to true love does not run smooth. Matthias doubts his own worth after a childhood in the foster care system and is also haunted by the murder of his foster brother and best friend. Meanwhile, Pet, the product of an affair, wrestles with her place in the world after discovering a new clue about her mysterious biological father's identity. Wacky humor prompts giggles in many places, but Parker also infuses her characters with impressive emotional depth. This is a solid choice for any beach bag. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Petunia "Pet" De Vere and Matthias Vaughn both play integral, if sometimes opposing, roles in their jobs for the newly royal-by-marriage, sweet but accident-prone Johnny Marchmont. Matthias is his ever-present and ever-serious bodyguard, whose personal experiences in loss on the job have led to his strict enforcement of protocol. Pet, as Johnny's personal assistant, understands the new royal needs to break free of the confines occasionally and makes decisions accordingly--usually against protocol. When rumors start to fly that Pet and Johnny are having an affair, action must be taken, and the easiest, for everyone else, is to have Pet and Matthias fake a relationship for the tabloids. They know this is probably the fastest way to make the rumors disappear quickly and decide to play along. But neither could have predicted that spending time together would require participation in a heist, solving a decades-old mystery, or really falling in love. VERDICT Parker returns with an endearing and equally humorous follow-up to Battle Royal with a serious but gentle bodyguard, an adorably sunny assistant, and a cast of secondary characters who deserve books of their own.--Kellie Tilton

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A stoic royal bodyguard and his charge's personal assistant fake a relationship to distract hungry tabloids. The sunny Petunia De Vere works as the personal assistant to Johnny Marchmont, new husband of the atypical Princess Rose. With her cheerful disposition, Petunia is often at odds with Marchmont's gruff and grumpy bodyguard, Matthias Vaughn, who finds himself constantly stepping in when Marchmont's clumsiness hurls Petunia into embarrassing situations. This happens so often that tabloids have begun to take notice, suspecting that the princess's husband already has a wandering eye. As a method of combatting the vicious paparazzi, Rose suggests that Petunia and Matthias fake a whirlwind romance. Their royalty-adjacent positions should be enough to get reporters talking and out of newlywed Rose and Johnny's hair. Beneath both Petunia's effervescent facade and Matthias' stone-faced exterior lie similar pain and trauma. They bond and open up about their darkest moments slowly and tenderly, which should have been enough to keep this slow burn sizzling. Obstacles keep appearing, though, which results in a disjointed back-and-forth that will elicit mostly frustration instead of longing on the part of the reader. Parker's books tend to have an engaging secondary cast, and she eventually grants them their own happily-ever-afters. Petunia and Matthias feature prominently in the series' first book, Battle Royal (2021), and reading that will give you a good foundation to the characters' beginnings. While their romance balances some darker history with their comedic mismatch in both stature and personality, it lacks the usual spark of wit found in Parker's previous pairings. With each new twist, Petunia and Matthias' courtship became staler; the romance would have been better served by giving the pair time to breathe and blossom rather than rushing them toward the next hurdle to be overcome. An unusual misstep that lacks the full-wattage charm of Parker's earlier romances. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.