Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
You know when you read an author for the first time and you realize quickly that you’ve been missing out on their voice. Well, this happened to me this week, as I was reading T.K. Leigh’s Royal Games. This is the fifth book in her Dating Games series, and I know I’ve missed out…until now.
There is so much I want to say about Royal Games. Let me begin with the general message of this book because it’s an important one. Through the story of Anderson North aka Prince Gabriel and Nora, Leigh articulates a poignant message about loss. At its surface, loss is presented as literal death. There is quite a bit of death in this book, to be honest, and it’s those deaths that wreak havoc for Leigh’s hero and heroine. Both of them are living their lives in the past, instead of the present, and Leigh reminds us through their adventure together that living in the present is the only part of life we can control. Besides loss through death, Leigh intensifies this message through the loss of a marriage, the loss of health, and the loss of expectations (Nora’s relationship with her mother). Loss covers this book, and in the end, we are reminded that we can only live in the here and now, controlling our mindsets especially when outside influences cannot be contained. Leigh’s expression of loss showcases her storytelling, and this is what inspired goosebumps as I was engaged in Nora and Anderson’s story.
Even more, I loved this book for the emotions it created in me. I have a huge confession to make in Leigh’s review. I’m a cheater. As a reader, I oftentimes cannot suspend my disbelief, and “good” writers invest me easily in their stories. Accordingly, I have to oftentimes read the end to allay my anxiety because I “feel” for the writer’s characters. When a writer crafts believability that develops my feelings for their characters, I know the writing is strong. For Leigh’s book, I was so invested that I had to read a few chapters out of order. There are secrets in this book, and as it came close to the revelation of those secrets, my emotions felt out of control. This is a nod to Leigh’s writing prowess. I felt a part of Anderson and Nora’s adventure, and each chapter pulled me deeper and deeper into it that I could empathize with their emotions, creating a profound and oftentimes fraught reading experience. There will be another book for Nora and Anderson, and I both relish and worry about it because I need the happiest of happy endings for these two.
Lastly, Leigh’s style grabs bits of your soul. She has written exquisite moments in Royal Games that underscore the depth of her message. Time and time again, my heart would pound and butterflies flew in my stomach because Leigh’s prose enthralled me. The deeper the story ventures, the more profound her style. There are lessons about life to be learned through Leigh’s words. If nothing else, people should read this book for the beauty of her writing.
I could tell you more about the extravagance of characterization in Royal Games. Anderson and Nora’s experiences are the foundation of T.K. Leigh’s story. Yet, it’s a culmination of parts that make the beauty of the whole of this book. When we are surrounded right now with so much loss, there is a lesson that we can learn through Leigh’s Royal Games, and it’s about temporality and the need to be our best “right now.” Not in living in the past, not pushing for the future, but making choices right now that can change ourselves, change people, and change the world. If you look deep enough into T.K. Leigh’s newest offering, you find that message, and hopefully, it touches your soul, as it touched mine. I began this review acknowledging that, until this past week, T.K. Leigh’s storytelling had missed my TBR. Needless to say, that stops now.
In love and romance,