ARC Review: American Royals by Katharine McGee

American RoyalsAmerican Royals by Katharine McGee
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Meet the Washingtons – the most scandalous royal family ever!

HRH Princess Samantha has always been a royal rebel. She’s the spare not the heir, so no one minds too much who she dates or how hard she parties.

It helps that her sister, Princess Beatrice, is literally perfect. She’s demure, sweet and beautiful, and she knows that the crown always comes first – no matter what her heart might really want.

But they’re not the only ones with their eye on the throne. Daphne Deighton might be ‘newly noble’ but she won Prince Jefferson’s heart once, and she’ll do anything to get back into the court’s favour – and his bed.

If only she knew that her competition was a common nobody – plain little Nina Gonzalez, the daughter of the king’s secretary.

Together these four young women must navigate the drama, gossip, scheming and sizzling romance of the most glorious court in the world. There’s everything to play for – but there can only be one queen.

Warnings: someone gets drugged, death of parent

A romance set in an alternate history, American Royals is a story about the four young women of and around the royal House of Washington. There’s Beatrice, the Crown Princess groomed to be the first Queen of America, her younger sister Samantha, a wild child, Sam’s childhood best friend and her twin brother Jeff’s secret girlfriend Nina, and Jeff’s ex and social climber Daphne. Each of them have complicated romances, set against their intersecting and complicated lives, and their wants and desires. Bee is falling in love with her bodyguard, which is ill-advised as she is being married off to Sam’s crush Teddy; Daphne is scheming to get back into Jeff’s life while Nina is trying to figure out how she fits into his.

Firstly, the plot and writing shine in this book. The perspectives are varied, and the voices are distinct, with the change of PoV hardly distracting from the story of another. Additionally, while this is technically about romance, duty and power, the story is more about these young women themselves than about their love life; the men are, for the most part, too boring to be of interest, to be frank. Their personalities are also set against each other well – we have Bee and Daphne both having a public face for the adoring masses, but while Bee’s private face is one of anxiety and duty, Daphne’s is that of a schemer and she is the antagonistic character. Similarly, while Sam and Nina are both facing the ire of public opinion, one is seen as a spoiled princess while the other is seen as a gold-digger. And yes, Sam and Daphne are both terrible in different degrees – Sam holds her sister’s engagement against her even though she knows it is more political than for love (which was an overreaction for a guy she kissed, like, twice), while Daphne deliberately harmed a friend and is out to ruin Nina’s life. And all of them are entertaining to read through.

However, there’s the fact that this alternate history setting comes across more as a fantasy monarchy version of America than actual re-imagining of history. The world-building is very sparse, and it glosses over what changes could’ve happened, and practically wipes away the whole complicated mess that is American history with the brush of ‘it was a monarchy so things worked out quite well’. Not only that, it then goes further to suggest that because of America never ‘inventing’ democracy, no other notable European nation employed it either (I don’t know what this means for the World Wars, so it brings up a lot of questions again, but let’s not go deep into that here). It basically goes like – so what if in the current world, America always had a monarchy instead – without any much thought in that direction; and honestly, if that was just the route it wanted to go, a dystopia setting like The Selection would have been more its speed.

Overall, while it is an engaging read, it doesn’t utilize its setting well.

Is it diverse? One of the main characters, Nina, is Latina, and has queer parents

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Penguin, via Netgalley.

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Releases on September 3, 2019

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