Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

royal weReviewed by Janell

You know how, in historical romances, all the titled men go to school together, and they’ve known each other forever, and they have strange nicknames and silly traditions and all that? This book gave me the sense that it’s all still true today! (Even though this is fiction.) Nick is the grandson of the current Queen of England, but the story begins when he’s at Oxford, hanging with chums he’s known his whole life, going to pubs, parties, and public appearances.

Bex (Rebecca) is an American exchange student who conveniently gets assigned a dorm room down the hall from Nick. By virtue of proximity, a keen sense of humor, and a strong liver, Bex is folded into the group of friends. The group’s job is often to protect Nick from outsiders, so it’s easier to let Bex be an insider than to keep her out.

Over the course of the school year, Bex and Nick become friends. She introduces him to an absurd American sci-fi series that her twin sister ships over, and soon Bex is Nick’s safe haven. She falls for him, but knows she has no place in his life. Until a fateful night at one of his castles…

This story begins in 2007 and ends about seven years later. It’s definitely not the average fairy tale. Again, in historicals, the Duke can choose any woman he pleases, convention be damned, and he doesn’t give a whit if she can’t curtsy or remember all of his honorary titles. Bex and Nick give a more realistic portrayal of royal love in modern times, beginning with paparazzi chases, followed by obtuse public statements, and ending with scandal.

Bex narrates the story from her wedding day. The prologue sets the scene (drama! scandal!), and then the first chapter goes back in time. But Bex always winks to the reader. She mentions all of the royal keepsakes and touristy souvenirs that have her engagement picture on them, and she references her unauthorized biography, The Bexicon, to point out how the fantasized version of her love story is so different from the reality.

The supporting cast grows from annoying schoolmates to actual friends who help out in a crisis. Nick has a younger brother, Fred, who can do whatever he wants because he’s the “spare.” Bex’s twin sister moves across the pond and is at times Bex’s biggest supporter and worst enemy. There are posh ex-girlfriends, ever-present security guards, and a jerky Prince dad.

With all of these external forces, this is the story of Bex. She has to find her own identity — first as being apart from her twin sister, then as a secret girlfriend, then a gossip target. She has to decide what her life means, and whether it’s better with Nick in it or not. Bex is also just like us, though. She makes mistakes. She lives in a crappy apartment. She hides from her feelings. And she’ll do her best to make everything better.

I have to point out that the tone of this book is pretty hilarious. It’s not high drama, it’s just young adults doing crazy stuff and occasionally reporting to the queen. There is some sex, but all behind closed doors. It’s like escapism with a dash of reality, and it made me hope that the real Will and Kate had a courtship half as romantic.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Royal We
by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

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