NY Times Bestselling Author
Jodi Ellen Malpas
The breathtaking conclusion of The Smoke & Mirrors Duology.
A beautiful, defiant princess. A renowned, sinfully gorgeous Hollywood actor.
A love affair that is sure to rock the British Monarchy…and the world.
Their love affair began intensely and passionately. Princess Adeline and Josh Jameson knew any future together was impossible—her status as a princess and his standing as a Hollywood heartthrob dictated that. But the heights of pleasure they could take each other to were wildly unanticipated by them both. Josh’s absolute disregard for Adeline’s status quickly drew her into his hedonistic world. And her perfectly worn mask and false façade captivated Josh to the point of obsession. The boundaries became blurred. The physical became emotional. Their hearts became entwined.
But a cruel turn of events rips their worlds apart and Adeline is more bound than ever by the protocol and expectations her title commands. The army of royal advisors who guard the secrets and scandals of the Monarchy will go to unthinkable lengths to keep the smoke and mirrors in place…and Josh away from Adeline. She knows the power she possesses comes with agonizing sacrifices. Walking away from Josh devastates her…but it keeps him safe from the corrupt institution that has ruled her life.
Yet Josh refuses to lose the woman who has consumed him so completely, distorted his boundaries, and stripped him of all sensibility.
Will the power of the British Monarchy triumph? Or will their fierce love for each other change the course of history?
After the death of the King and the Heir Apparent, many things come to light that are both shocking and intriguing. Prince Edward would not be King he was not the King’s son but the product of an affair. Yet one more thing to be hidden behind smoke and mirrors. After a blood test, the results prove that Adeline would be queen whether she wants it or not.
The devastation felt by both her and Josh carries through the funerals and the further still. He gets to confront her while she riding to alleviate the overwhelming stress.
This is a favorite scene.
“I’m in love with the Queen of England, England, Your Majesty. You need to help me find a way to be with her.”
His words could make me cry, and for a second my wobbly lip gets the better of me. I mustn’t cry. I mustn’t. “It’s impossible.”
“Well, I don’t. Nothing has changed for me.”
“But everything has changed for me,” I say. “We’re a train wreck waiting to happen.”
“My train has already crashed, and it’s in fucking tatters since I left you at the palace. Nothing can feel any worse than that, Adeline.”
“Trust me, Josh.” I take his hands from my face. “It really can.”
He looks to the sky, his Adam’s apple rolling with each hard swallow he takes. He’s trying to calm himself down, trying desperately to see reason like me. It pains me to see him like this, as much as it pains me to feel as I do. “You didn’t even break up with me,” he whispers. “You watched them escort me away, and all I could do was watch it all play out on TV. You didn’t answer my calls, my messages.” Dropping his eyes to mine, he circles my neck with his palms and holds me firmly in place. “I wanted to be there for you. I was waiting for the bomb to drop, the news of your succession, and now it finally has. I can see it in your eyes, Adeline. No one else can, but I see it. You don’t really want this. Guilt and responsibility shouldn’t dictate your heart.”
“And what would you have me do? Throw my mother to the wolves? My brothers, my father, my entire family history? Just to feed my own selfish need?”
“No, to feed mine,” Josh replies shortly, and I flinch at his frankness. “I’m sorry,” he sighs. “I didn’t mean that. Just . . .” He growls under his breath. “Just don’t be hasty. Don’t write us off yet.”
I smile, finding his determination admirable, if a tiny bit frustrating. “You’ve already had your warning, Josh. Your hotel was trashed, and that was when I was a mere princess. They’ll ruin you.”
“They can shove their warnings up their asses.” Releasing me, he stands back, scuffing the mud with his boots. “There must be a loophole somewhere. A chink in the armor of the stupid laws you royal people have to abide by. I’ll find it.”
There is no loophole, and if there was, it would be sewn shut pretty speedily. “It’s impossible.”
“No. I won’t let you believe that.”
I don’t counter this time, because I know he won’t listen. Part of me is wishing he’s right, that there is a loophole, though I know there are none. We can’t be together. “Josh . . .”
Looking past me, he frowns. “What’s wrong with Stan?”
Oh goodness. I shoot over to my horse who looks somewhat lethargic. “I think he’s dehydrated. I brought him through here to get him a drink.”
“Let me see.” Josh takes his head and looks Stan over. “His eyes are dry.” Taking his reins, he clicks him down to the stream, and I thank heavens when my beloved horse slurps some water. “He’s real thirsty. You should get him looked over.”
“I will,” I promise, stroking down his neck, waiting patiently for him to finish up. God, he might drink the stream dry. “I should go before Damon starts to worry.”
The solemnness of Josh’s face matches my own downheartedness as I pull Stan back toward the bridle path. “Adeline?” he calls, and I look over my shoulder. He doesn’t say anything, and instead approaches me, giving me a soft kiss on the lips. “This won’t be the last kiss I give you,” he vows, and I inhale a little dreamily, ignoring the voice in my head that’s disagreeing with him. Because I desperately wish it isn’t our last kiss. “I’m leaving for South Africa tomorrow for a week. I’ll be back in London as soon as I can. I’ll call you, and you will answer.”
I nod, if mildly. “Goodbye.”
“For now,” he adds, stroking down the bridge of my nose before stepping back and letting me walk away. “I love you, Adeline.”
I swallow down the wretchedness those words evoke. Words like that shouldn’t make a woman feel so utterly hopeless. They should fill her with life. But I’m no ordinary woman.
Each step I take is forcefully measured to ensure my stability, and I touch my nose to feel the heat still lingering from his touch. Oh, how I wish I didn’t have to leave. That it wouldn’t involve headline news, MI5, and the government if Josh took me away to a faraway land and hid me there forever.
When I breach the trees, I force myself to locate my ever-depleting mask and have it firmly in place for when I meet Damon. “I heard you shouting,” he says dryly as I slip my foot into one of Stan’s stirrups and pull myself up.
Once I’m settled in the saddle, I look across to him. “And you didn’t come to find out why?”
Flicking away his cigarette, likely the second or third he’s had since I left him, he falls into the seat of the Land Rover. “It sounded like you were handling handling things just fine on your own, Your Majesty.”
“I was. It was just—”
“Or was the American handling you just fine?” His smirk is slap worthy, and my mouth falls open, my shock profound.
“I have no idea what you are talking about, Damon.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
“Drive on,” I order petulantly, only making his smile widen. “This minute.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He starts the engine and honks the horn, pointing across the field. I’m totally mortified when I see Josh cantering away in the distance.
My lips twist, my eyes closing. “I’ve only been Queen for a few hours, and I’ve already demonstrated how utterly weak I am. I’m a terrible Monarch.”
“Love doesn’t change because the world does, ma’am,” Damon says gently.
His statement, so profound and true, brings more wretched tears to my ever-crying eyes.
Malpas, Jodi Ellen. His True Queen (Smoke & Mirrors Duology Book 2) . Jodi Ellen Malpas. Kindle Locations (795-843). Kindle Edition.
Needless to say there is far more going on than meets the eye.
A dance at the White House leads to yet another encounter with Josh. The seemingly hopeless situation just gets more intense. With far more eyes watching and waiting.
Then there is the persistent suiter Haydon, who does manage to get a ring on her finger, totally under protest. Followed by a most embarrassing first appearance as an engaged couple.
As the series name implies, there are many smoke and mirror effects going on and the revelations are truly astonishing.
A nail-biting, suspenseful and sizzling conclusion to this duology.
5 Contented Purrs for Jodi!
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“I write for myself. Not what I think people want to read.” ~ JEM
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her husband, her boys, and a beagle. She is a self-professed daydreamer and has a terrible weak spot for alpha males. After writing in secret for too long, Jodi exploded onto the scene in 2012 with her debut novel This Man, starring the prolific Jesse Ward.
Writing powerful love stories with fierce, memorable characters is her passion – a passion that has taken her on an amazing journey into the limelight of romantic fiction. Her work is now published in more than twenty-five languages across the world.