I have read all of Lucy Parker’s books, and she’s been a favorite romance author of mine for years now. I always look forward to when another book of hers is published. So, when I saw Codename Charming (2023) was available and not at my library, I bought it immediately. Then I saved it for my backpacking trip, so I’d have something fun and distracting to read.
Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed in this one. Part of the problem was that most of the characters in this book were introduced in her previous book, Battle Royal. I enjoyed Battle Royal, but I’d read it a while ago and only vaguely remembered the plot, let alone the secondary characters who had suddenly become more important. It felt like I was thrust into a story where everyone knew each other and I was trying to catch up. I think it also made the characters less interesting for me because I knew so little about them.
Petunia De Vere, or “Pet” is the personal assistant to Johnny Marchmont–the guy who just joined the royal family (in England) by marrying one of the main princesses. He is a very nice guy, but he is bumbling and unprincely; thus, the press attacks him constantly. Pet is also the sister of Dominic De Vere, the famous baker and protagonist in Lucy Parker’s last book.
Matthias is one of Johnny Marchmont’s main bodyguards. He is a giant, grumpy man who is good at his job, but not good with people. Pet has tried to befriend him. He saved her from the crazy woman with the knife and was very kind to her afterwards. But he never talks to her and is rude whenever he gets the chance.
But when the press decides that Johnny Marchmont is cheating on the princess with Pet, Marchmont’s team decides that Pet and Matthias should stage a romance to take the heat off Marchmont. As Pet and Matthias spend more time together, they are undeniably attracted to each other, but neither one wants to admit that it’s anything more than a charade. At the same time, the two learn more about each other: why Matthias is so solitary and grumpy, and more about Pet’s life.
Besides forgetting who all the characters were, my other problem with this book is that I didn’t love Pet and Matthias as a couple. They certainly had chemistry, but Matthias was so off-putting that I didn’t understand why Pet had any interest in him. The only time he was ever nice to her was in the previous book, which I had mostly forgotten. I’m sure I will read Lucy Parker’s next book, but I do hope I enjoy it more.