Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

"I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next."

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

I'm a moderate fan of Ms. Cocks and Ms. Morgan's site, Go Fug Yourself.  I read their Scandal and Downton Abbey recaps, and I used to participate frequently in Fug Madness, their version of March Madness.  I had not read either of their young adult books, but I knew they wrote novels, and I knew they were Royal Watchers.  When I heard about their first adult novel, The Royal We, was a fictionalized tale of future king marrying an American, well, I had to give it a shot.

The first seven chapters, which were available for free, hooked me.  I liked Bex -- her American-ism, her foot-in-mouth disease, her lack of "proper" fashion sense -- and Nick was a ghost-like presence, flitting in and out of her life in Oxford.  The fact that they bonded over a crack-tastic television show made Nick seem human rather than Prince Nicholas of Wales.  Add in the secondary cast of friends -- Gaz, Cilla, Bea, Clive -- and this is the beginning of a humorous contemporary love story.  

I'm not sure where I started to feel disappointed.  

Maybe it was all the drama between Nick and Bex; maybe it was all the drinking Bex and crew does during her year in Oxford, and after she moves to England full-time; maybe it was the fact that Nick and Bex kept their romantic relationship a secret for FOUR YEARS before Bex decided she wanted to know what their future might be.  

I'm not sure.  

One of the things I love about William and Kate's story is that they seem to be genuinely happy together.  He's the future king; she's a commoner who happened to live on his dormitory floor.  And they fell in love.  Yes, they broke up once, maybe twice, but they seem committed now! 

Bex's life does change drastically once she and Nick become "official" in the eyes of Clarence House.  I cannot imagine the type of scrutiny and pressure this would put on a person not born to royal life.  But the last third of the book really didn't sit well for me.  Add the unnecessary melodrama with Bex's twin, Lacey, the surprising true nature of one of their friends, and the ending that didn't resolve anything, and I'm left with disappointment rather than gushing moments of squee. I do hope we get to see Freddie again, though; he was quite enjoyable. 

If you want to escape the humdrum of your normal life for a few of hours, The Royal We will certainly take you away. 

(A very special thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Royal We.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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