Every once in a while, the fluffiness of romantic comedy and the drama of a character-driven story combines into something remarkable. The likes of such books now includes American Royals, and with any good story, it’s hard knowing where to begin. I saw this book here and there in bookstores, but never committed to it until I found it at the library and the mood for some royal romantic fluff struck hard.
In an alternate twenty-first century America, the country is not a democracy, but a monarchy. Rather than Presidents, we have kings, and instead of First Sons and Daughters, we have princes and princesses. The royal Washington family’s oldest daughter, Beatrice, is set to be the first queen to inherit the Crown, while her younger twin siblings, Samantha and Jefferson, figure out their own lives. A comedy of errors worthy of Shakespeare plays out as the royal siblings and their friends fall in and out of love, scheme to win crowns, and sometimes, try to make it to the next ball without accidentally catching the tabloids’ attention.
The characters are the biggest driving force of the book’s action, allowing their personalities to fully come out. You see each central character at their best and worst, and each of them has a compelling arc.
The main cast includes Beatrice, Samantha, Nina, and Daphne, from whose varying perspectives we hear the story. It’s hard to decide who is the best character, but I can tell you with certainty that I related the most to Samantha and wanted to bash Daphne’s brains in.
Samantha is the rebellious middle child with a goody-two-shoes older sister. She is way more outspoken than I am, but she sometimes struggles with being stuck in her sister’s shadow, which is a common middle girl issue I remember well from adolescence.
Daphne, on the other hand, is a scheming, manipulative shrew, and it was so easy and fun to hate her. She does have a few complexities and you feel sorry for her insecurities, but that doesn’t make her entirely sympathetic. She does too many awful things to make me like her, especially after she sabotages a few important events for the royal siblings. As one character puts it, she is blinded to reality, and is pretty much a lost cause from the start.
You would need a chart to figure out how each character relates to the rest of the cast. It almost feels Shakespearean in how everyone comically and dramatically influences everyone else’s story. It would be dizzying to even begin trying to describe it here.
But that’s part of the fun. What character will set off a chain of events that affects other characters? How will one kerfuffle among a group of characters get resolved without involving other innocents? It’s delicious to eat up!
That’s not to say the book is without its share of genuine pathos. Beatrice faces becoming the first ever queen of America, and she is struggling to rise to the occasion. You truly do not know what she’s going to do, and you almost cannot bear to watch her make a decision, because the consequences of either choice (abdicating or not abdicating) would have huge national and personal repercussions.
The only nitpick I have is that the story ends on a cliffhanger and we have another sequel on our hands. I’ll leave that thought hanging since I’ve already expressed my thoughts about unexpected sequels before. Thus I shall not write my own sequel to those thoughts.
You do have to also suspend your disbelief a little to imagine America as a monarchy. Sometimes the characters muse about whether America would work much differently as a democracy, but I’m glad they keep such a heavy topic as a footnote. Such a discussion is far too heavy for a book this fun.
Either way, if you’re a fan of romantic comedies involving royals and their escapades, this is a good pick.