RogerBW's Blog

Can't Escape Love, Alyssa Cole 25 January 2023

2019 romance novella, in the Reluctant Royals series. Regina Hobbs was always the "good" daughter in her parents' eyes, and having to use a wheelchair hasn't changed that, but she has built things on her own too…

This story runs contemporaneously with A Duke by Default, which dealt with Regina's sister Portia; indeed, it seems to be built round a key phone call in that story. But from this end, well, it's a little odd; Reggie has built a successful social media site for geeky fandom, but by 2019 in the real world most of those had been destroyed by Facebook and Wikia/ was on its great buying spree.

Still, a few years ago Regina got onto a Twitch-alike site and found relaxation in watching someone solve puzzles; she's kept using those recordings to send her to sleep in times of stress, but now he's closed his account, and because downloading from video sites is something that Cole has apparently never heard of she calls in some favours to try to get back in touch with him. Then it turns out (romances are allowed One Big Coincidence, right?) that he lives quite close by and she can be really useful with his work (he's designing an escape room for a fandom that she's a big part of), and…

There's instant chemistry, of course, and problems that might have applied to previous relationshups (he's somewhat autistic, she's a bit less so but not "normal" either, neither of them is white, and there's the whole wheelchair thing that's left her on edge about people doing her favours because they so often follow it up with What You Should Do) pretty much melt away in the face of their mutual physical and mental attraction (also, neither of them is an arsehole). Indeed, while a romance has to have an obstacle, it seems more like one of misunderstanding than anything else, and if the thing that resolves it hadn't happened one feels they would have managed another way. (This does all have to fit in novella length, after all.)

That's the only real problem: Cole seemed much happier at novel length in A Princess in Theory even if A Duke by Default was rather rougher. But while it was a little rushed and facile this was a romance in which I could believe.

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Previous in series: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy | Series: Reluctant Royals | Next in series: A Prince on Paper

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