Reviewed by Cressida McLaughlin
Chloe is deliriously happy with her boyfriend Hugo, but they've been together for a while and she is waiting for the moment when Hugo slips a ring on her finger and walks her down the aisle. And this isn't just because she's keen to settle down with him and commit for the rest of her life, but because she has the added pressure of being the girlfriend of the second in line to the throne. Hugo's princess sister Sophie is not keen on Hugo's middle-class girlfriend, and takes every opportunity to create unflattering nicknames for Chloe or leak her whereabouts to the press. With so much scrutiny on her, Chloe believes that if sweet, loyal but often oblivious Hugo proposes to her, then the watching world will have to take her more seriously. Hugo and Sophie are still overshadowed by the mysterious death of their mother, Princess Belinda, years before, and with some life-changing decisions to make, Hugo is thinking about his mother even more than usual.
American volleyball player Lori, fresh from medal success at the Olympics, is in a contrasting predicament. After being spotted and romanced by the Joachim, the King of tiny European tax-haven Herzoslovakia, she suddenly finds herself accepting his proposal, preparing to swap her sporty life in America for elaborate castles and royal engagements. Her prospective husband and his mother are kind and gracious, showing Lori and her family every courtesy, and Lori believes she has found future happiness in the most unexpected place.
Killer Queens is a sparkling, delicious romp of a novel, with three enticing story lines and luxury and privilege running through it. The settings – Buckingham and Kensington palace, Herzoslovakian castles and luxury resorts in Mexico and Ibiza – are incredible, described in such intricate detail that you can fully imagine them, and revel in the decadence. Chloe and Lori are both likeable, down to earth women who find themselves in extraordinary situations, and their stories give the readers an inkling of what it must be like to be thrust into a world so steeped in history, tradition and reputation that it's unrecognisable. All the characters are well defined – there are some excellent baddies, loveable heroines and drool-worthy heroes. I loved Chloe's mum and dad, and their way of dealing with having a member of the royal family round to tea, and Hugo is completely adorable.
There are several parallels to the current British royal family, from the relationship between Hugo and Chloe to Hugo's mother dying tragically and unexpectedly, and I – as I'm sure most readers will – spent a lot of time wondering if the real royal family are, behind closed doors, in any way similar to how they are portrayed in Killer Queens. I guess that's part of the attraction. There are enough scandals, sex and secrets in Killer Queens to shock even the most outrageous tabloid newspaper.
If you like your books brimming with escapism and intrigue, then you'll love Killer Queens. It's brilliantly written, has clever, page turning plots and extravagant locations. I prefer books more firmly grounded in reality but, personal preference aside, I would highly recommend this to bonk-buster fans.
Rebecca Chance's website