Janell – I’ve read two excellent books about falling in love with a prince (His Royal Secret and The Royal We), and one that wasn’t substantive enough. I heard about this book on a podcast and I was in the mood for a nice prince-falling-for-an-average-American story. The setup was great, but by the end I felt it was, well, too light on protocol particulars and too heavy on the sex. I know, my priorities are obviously mixed up, so that may be just the combination that works for you!
Joanna – I don’t read much in the vein of royal family fanfic, but like Janell, a couple of reviews of this novel piqued my interest. Also, out of fear of contributing to dangerous press intrusion, I’m not reading any articles about Prince Harry’s romance saga, so this was the next best thing. Royally Screwed is a blatant and unapologetic fantasy of what would happen if Prince William went to the US and got himself a poor American girlfriend. It’s cute, warm, silly, and skims detail in preference for cock descriptions.
Janell – Cock descriptions are very important, is what we’re saying. Nicholas is the heir to the throne of Wessco, a country that seems to have been carved out of Scotland and England and that has the worst name in the history of made-up countries with marriageable princes. He’s in America to track down his younger brother, who is partying way too hard for the Queen Grandmother’s liking. He’s also there to live it up one last time, since Queen Grandmother has ordered him to announce an engagement in four months because that will magically distract the populace, settle down Parliament, and create jobs.
Joanna – Basically, for Nicholas, think a dark-haired, souped-up William Wales. For brother Henry, think Harry Wales (whose real name is Henry too, so this doesn’t stretch the imagination too far).
Janell – While drunkenly wandering around during a New York snowstorm, Nicholas and his pal (and security team) end up in Olivia’s magical pie shop. Olivia is a tough NYC broad who does not take any crap. She’s also tired from running the store to support her alcoholic father and college-bound sister and desperately in need of money. But when Nicholas offers her money for sex, Olivia gives him a pie in the face.
Joanna – Sorry, I’m too busy laughing my head off at Magical Pie to contribute for a moment.
Janell – You’re welcome! Moving on… this begins a merry chase. Nicholas thinks Olivia is hot, and she’s even hotter because she initially doesn’t know who he is. He gives her this strong argument:
“You’re young and beautiful, I’m handsome and rich. The more applicable question is why aren’t we f*cking already?”
After a few days of such determined attention, plus some smiling orphans, Olivia gives in. Her fairy godmother, in the form of her gay waiter’s younger sister, even helps dress her up. Then it’s pretty much hot sex.
I enjoyed the story up until the part where Olivia travels with Nicholas back to Wessco. Then I couldn’t help comparing it to the other books I’d liked. In His Royal Secret (and its sequel), the prince’s lover moves into the palace and has a lot of angst about becoming a useless prop. He clings to his career and fights to be seen as more than just a scandalous fling. In The Royal We, the prince’s fiancée has etiquette lessons, history lessons, and is allowed to encourage only certain charities. These characters knew they were making sacrifices for love, but they were determined to do it on their own terms.
Olivia didn’t have enough to do in Wessco. Sure, she was just a summer fling, so she couldn’t exactly take up royal duties, but she only bakes something once. The rest of the time, when Nicholas is doing his prince job, she goes out to lunch with his friends and tries on clothes. I don’t mean to be mean to her as a character, because I’m sure she did more and had thoughts and adventures, but it wasn’t shown. It was all glossed over to get to the rest of the plot (and the sex). When the black moment and the happy ending arrived, there was no consideration given to Olivia’s independence or what she might be giving up for Nicholas. It was all too fairytale for me, and apparently I wanted some angsty reality in the mix.
Joanna – I totally agree. I liked the characters, Nicholas with his filthy mouth, Olivia more for her seizing an opportunity, plus Henry, the spare, is funny and his antics made me laugh. It has palaces, towering snobbery from the doors-to-manual aristos, and you know the struggle between love and duty can’t end well. But the details are so light, floating so high over protocol, public image and small things like a constitutional crisis, it’s only just enough to keep the story going. I wanted more realism, something to grasp onto plot-wise. It could’ve been the angst, that would’ve done, but there were no epic highs or deep emotional lows, and my heart was left unwrenched. The ending was fine, a little out there, even as the author took a slight dig at romance novel clichés, but it was cute and exactly what you’d expect it to be.
Janell — Her heart was left unwrenched!
Joanna — One frustration I had was at the grammar and spelling errors, not in terms of quantity, just some were so obvious it took me out of the story. Plus a few Americanisms crept in to what was meant to be the mouths of UK characters. E.g. meth barely exists here, ‘sic’ isn’t used for ‘set’, we don’t use the term ‘strep throat’ all that much etc. I guess I’m saying a little proof reading goes a long way.
Despite the complaints, I’ll read the sequel when it comes out next year. I want to know what the bad boy Henry is up to next.
Janell’s rating: B-
Joanna’s rating: B
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Emma Chase
Release Date: October 18, 2016