Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Take Tuesday: The Royal We

The Royal We
Some books are just so good, you have to read them again. And some books deserve a second chance. And some books I think about and change my opinion or have more to say. Take Tuesday is a chance to do just that. 

Title: The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Publication Date: 4/7/15
Pages: 454
Genre: Chick Lit / Romance / Royals / Fiction
Previous Readings: May 2015
Date Completed This Time: 7/9/16

Quick sidebar before we start - I know Take Tuesday, by its very name, belongs on a Tuesday. However, today is my birthday and I wanted to celebrate by talking about this book. It's been one of my favorites since I first read it last year and I could not think of anything I'd rather talk about with you on my special day! 

Summary: American exchange student Rebecca "Bex" Porter ends up in the same dorm hall as HRH Prince Nicholas at Oxford. Fairy tale moments, paparazzi stalking, and royal drama ensue.

What I Thought Before: I have been ruminating over and raving about this book for over a year now. The fact that I even picked it up again only a year later should say a lot. When I first reviewed the book, I commented on how pleasantly surprised I was at the writing quality and how charming the story and characters are. Cocks and Morgan balanced just the right about of fiction and fact.

What I Think Now: I still think all those things. A year later, I am still calling this one the absolutely perfect beach read. I loved it just as much the second time around. When the Cambridge clan feels like an extension of your family that you simply have not met yet, it's no surprise to love a book so inspired by their real lives.

This time I tried to read a bit more critically, albeit while still soaking in the indulgence. When you're reading this thing in between 100+ year old classic, it's hard to be anything but adoring. If I had to offer criticism, I would say the last quarter of the book is a little less engaging. It is, after all, where the rubber really meets the road for Bex. Nick is absent for much of that part and the charming normalcy of their romance is desperately needed - both by Bex and the reader.

I know some readers have complained that there is not enough drama in the book and that, when there is drama, Cocks & Morgan take it to the extreme. To those who say the book needs more drama, I question, as always, why there must be drama to make a book good. To me, good characters fulfill so many of my needs that may be otherwise shallowly satiated by dramatic plots. Also, don't forget who the molds are for Nick and Bex. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have really not had much (public) drama. There are plenty of articles complaining, in fact, about how boring they are. Personally, I think it's refreshing that they aren't constantly getting into hijinks similar to those of the previous royal generation. I think they have class, both in real life and in their fictional lives, and I like that.

To those who say the drama that does exist in the book and is too much, well, I admit it makes me a bit squeamish, too. Forewarning: spoilers ahead. Having a tangled love...triangle?...between Bex, her twin sister, and multiple guys felt weird. I get that Bex and Lacey have done a lot of things together and the twin thing is a big deal. But sharing guys, even though at separate times, gets iffy for me. As a sister myself, it feels like breaking sacred code. Worse yet, Bex is very briefly and foolishly pursued by Nick's younger brother, Prince Freddie (a.k.a. Prince Harry). This feels admittedly far-fetched to me. Cocks and Morgan do handle this well and in what I find to be a very realistic manner (as if it would ever happen), but it still makes me cringe a bit when Freddie tries to get Bex to run away with him. The whole thing only lasts for a few pages, but it's uncomfortable. Especially when you happen to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack right after reading that chapter. Guys - sibling love triangles are weird.

All that to say, I still adore this book. I don't give out 5 stars lightly. I think those flaws I mentioned are small in the grand scheme of things. It's beautifully written, engaging, and so. much. fun. Other than the break I took right after Nick and Bex temporarily break up (I swear, it was depressing me even thinking about Will and Kate not being together as their loosely-based, fictional characters...even though that part is totally based on real life...I am a complete weirdo.), I flew through this one once again. I have no doubt I'll read it over and over again. As we in the royal fandom continually seek out those touchstone moments that make us feel connected to the British Royal Family, this book, although fictional, feels like the answer to those scavenger hunts. It's delightful and thoughtful and well worth the read, even if you know absolutely nothing about the real royal family.

Rating: ★★★★★
Will I Re-Read: Yes. Definitely. And praying for a sequel.
If You Liked This Try: Kate / Austenland / The Uncommon Reader

A Reduced Review: If you're looking for a light, fun, well-written book, this one is a perfectly royal selection. 

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