Book Review: American Royals

Title: American Royals
Author: Katherine McGee
Genre: Romance, Young Adult

What It’s About: After the battle of Yorktown, George Washington is approached about becoming the King of the United States, and he accepts. Two hundred years later, and several generations of the Washington Royalty, Beatrice, the oldest daughter of the current King, will become the first queen as the first in line to the throne. As a result, her parents want her to start meeting potential husbands at the Queen’s Ball, which is historically known to happen before Christmas, and was the first ball hosted by Martha and George Washington as the First Queen and King of the US, where they knighted people who served the country in an honorable way. The tradition has been kept up to date.

Beatrice’s siblings, twins Samantha and Jefferson, who are known for schemes and trouble, return from a six month tour around the world, just in time for the Queen’s Ball. Sam, as Samantha is known, seeks out her best friend, Nina Gonzalez, who is the daughter of a former Chamberlain-turned-Treasury Minister. Nina, Sam, and Jefferson (who goes by the name Jeff) grew up together in the palace, playing and getting into all sorts of adventures. But now, Nina is in college, and she has a secret that she cannot share with Sam–on the evening of Sam and Jeff’s high school graduation party, Nina and Jeff shared a kiss, but Jeff never reached out for months afterwards.

At the ball, Sam flirts with and ends up kissing Theodore Eaton, known as Teddy, one of the guys on the approved potential suitors for Beatrice. During the ball, Daphne Deighton, who is part of the noble class, approaches Jeff in an attempt to reconcile–Daphne had seen Jeff with someone else in bed on the night of the graduation party, and the next day he broke up with her, though she managed to spin it to the tabloids that it was an amicable break-up. Unfortunately for Daphne, Jeff leaves her standing alone on the dance floor after a quick dance, and in his stead, his best friend Ethan begins dancing with Daphne. Jeff instead goes to find Nina, and together they watch the fireworks for the party. Things heat up when he kisses her and she pushes him away at first, but then they realize that they still want to give their relationship a chance. Also during the ball, Beatrice dances with all of the potential suitors, but it is Teddy who actually shows her that he cares about her feelings and understands her. As a result, she invites him along to a musical.

At the musical, Beatrice gets overwhelmed with emotions because the story is about a queen going between what she wants and what she must do, which Beatrice feels is deeply relevant to her situation. After the ball, the Washington Family, Teddy and Nina are meant to go to a ski resort. Since the King and Beatrice cannot travel together because of succession rules (if something were to happen, she is the first in line), the King, the Queen, Sam, Jeff, Nina, Ethan and Teddy are at the ski resort while Beatrice is en route. The five kids enjoy their time on the slopes, and Sam tries to stay away from Teddy, now being aware that he is Beatrice’s beau, but things exactly don’t go as planned, and they kiss in the hot tub after an eventful day on the slope. It is then that Teddy reveals that his family, which is the Dukedom of Boston, doesn’t have money anymore–his grandfather made some investments a while back that were not in the best interests of the Dukedom, and as a result they had to let go of their subjects.

In the meantime, a blizzard strands Beatrice and her personal guard, Connor, in a nearby town. She had previously kissed Connor in her bedroom on the night of the ball, but their proximity and the privacy that the blizzard affords them sends sparks flying…and Beatrice admits that Teddy is not Connor which is why she is hesitating in her relationship. They do end up making it into the town just in time for the New Year’s Eve party that Daphne sneaks into, courtesy to Ethan. She had been trying to catch Jeff on the slopes in the hopes of getting back into a relationship with him, and Ethan admits to her that he thinks something is going on between Jeff and Nina, but Daphne will have none of it. At the party, Daphne gets drunk and parties with Sam, and when it is time for her to leave, Ethan tells her that he ordered a cab for her that she can access from the side door so that she avoids the public eye. Daphne comes up with a plan.

In the new year, when the family and friends return back to the capital, Beatrice spends her mornings waking up in secret with Connor. She gets called into the King’s office shortly thereafter, and he tells her that the matter they are discussing is not between father and daughter, but is a matter between a current King and a future Queen–between heads of state–and reveals that he has stage 4 lung cancer, with less than a year to live. As a father, he asks Beatrice to get married sooner so that he can walk her down the aisle, which makes Beatrice realize that she has to make the Queen side of her life win out over the girl, as she promised her grandfather all of those years ago. This means that she must let go of Conner.

In the meantime, Nina returns to college and makes headlines when it is revealed that she is Jeff’s girlfriend, information that was secretly provided by Daphne as a way to end their relationship. The paparazzi start showing up both at her dorm, and also at her mother’s house (she has two moms), releasing pictures of her that result in cruel comments. She refuses to talk to Sam, who is hurt by the revelation that Nina didn’t trust her to tell her, and to Jeff, whom Nina doesn’t trust. Finally, Sam manages to visit Nina, and the two girls have an argument because Sam starts talking about her own problems when Nina is hurting. The two of them stop speaking for some time, but Jeff decides to shake things up, and when Nina goes out with her college friend, Rachel, Jeff shows up at the frat party with a milkshake from Wawa–a convenience store in which they had one of their first dates–and they make up.

In the meantime, Beatrice proposes to Teddy and he accepts. When Conner finds out about the proposal through a public announcement done by Beatrice and Teddy, he proposes to Beatrice, drawing a sharpie circle around her ring finger. But Beatrice won’t accept it, and so their relationship ends. At the same time, any potential relationship between Sam and Teddy ends, and Sam is absolutely upset and hurt as to why Beatrice is doing this so quickly when her heart isn’t in it. While all of this is happening, Daphne gets praised by her mother during their appointment at the nail and hair salon for ending the relationship between Jeff and Nina, and the two ladies talk about Daphne getting back together with Jeff. When the news comes out that Nina and Jeff are still together, Daphne’s mother tells her that she needs to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Freaking out after the proposal, Beatrice goes into the kitchen to try to make herself some food, but is incapable of cooking. Sam finds her in the kitchen, and helps her cook Mac and Cheese, and the two girls have a heart to heart, making up, and Sam finds out that her father is sick with cancer. The next day, she goes to confront the King, but is unable to do so when he tells her that she has her merits and that she needs to be able to take on the criticism aimed at the crown. He then asks her to be the chair of a charitable organization that can only be run by someone other than the heir to the crown (the siblings), and she accepts.

Since Nina and Jeff made up, they decide to attend Beatrice’s engagement party together. As a result, Nina goes shopping for a dress for the ceremony since she is not able to use the crown’s money for dresses. Daphne encounters her in the store that she shops at for dresses for such parties, and tries to help Nina with it. Nina does pick a dress and puts a payment for it as well as any alterations, but when she comes back to pick it up, the store tells her that she cancelled her order. Turns out that unbeknownst to Nina, Daphne had called the store and cancelled Nina’s order, to put her out of the running for the party. Finding no where to go for a dress, Nina turns to Sam for help, and she shows her to an industrial sized closet full of dresses that Nina can choose from, and the girls make up.

At the engagement party, Beatrice and Teddy accept well wishes and gifts from everyone, but Beatrice needs to take time out because she is still undecided with what she really wants. Teddy accepts the wishes from others on their behalf, while Beatrice runs out of the room, and runs into Connor at the gift table. They share a kiss, and this time, she decides to choose him over her duty, unlike before. She returns to the engagement party, and she pulls Sam aside to tell her what is going on; that she will end her engagement to Teddy. Sam asks her if she can share that information with Teddy, and when Beatrice agrees, Sam asks Teddy to meet her in the closet. There, she tells Teddy the news, and they kiss. In the meantime, Daphne corners Nina alone in the bathroom, and tells her the truth–she was the one that told the paparazzi about Nina, and that she was the one that cancelled her order at the store, but that no one will believe Nina when she tells them about Daphne, because of her polished picture. Nina then has an argument with Jeff, mentioning the issue with Daphne, and they break up because he doesn’t believe her. Daphne consoles Jeff, sends him to bed drunk, and then takes a ride home with Ethan, with whom she sleeps for the second time.

That evening, after the party, Beatrice talks to her father, tells her that she doesn’t want to marry Teddy, and then when he tells her no, she tells him that she will give up her title as she is not willing to give up her love for the crown. Her father has a coughing fit, collapses, and gets rushed to the hospital. Sam, Jeff, the Queen and Beatrice go to the hospital, where they spend the evening and morning hours waiting for any news. Nina wakes up to her mothers crying, and when she tells them what happened with Daphne, one of the moms tells her that she needs to go back and fight, not giving up just because Daphne threatened her. They drive her to the hospital, but Nina never goes in to see the royal family because she sees Daphne with Jeff at the hospital. Before this had happened, Daphne woke up with Ethan in bed, and sends him away, then heading for the hospital to be a support for Jeff. While the family is trying to figure out what is happening with the King, Daphne goes to visit her friend Himari. At that point it turns out that Daphne and Himari were best friends, and right before the graduation party, Himari found out that Daphne had lost her virginity to Ethan, so she told Daphne to come clean with Jeff or threatened to tell on her. In an effort to keep the truth from coming out, Daphne mixed drugs with Himari’s alcoholic drink, knocking her out at least temporarily during the graduation party. When Himari tried to get up to go upstairs, she fell down and hit her head, resulting in a coma. Daphne tells Himari what is going on, and feels that Himari’s hand closes around hers, as if she heard her.

The Queen sends out Beatrice, Sam, Jeff, and Teddy to meet with all the onlookers outside of the hospital, and that is what they are doing, when the Lord Chamberlain, the Queen and the Surgeon run out of the hospital to give Beatrice the news that her father passed away, and they bow to her, showing their loyalty to the new Queen of America.

My Verdict: It is so weird to think of America as a Constitutional Monarchy, because of how’s strong the idea of democracy is in the US, and how there are three branches of government that “balance” each other. Still, this was such an entertaining book about the possibilities of what could have been if George Washington became a king, and if actually the US went on a path towards monarchy. I loved the characters, and the story telling, as well as the romance and intrigue. I’m honestly over Daphne as the drama queen, because I don’t like people who will go to any lengths whatsoever just for a title, and this transfers to Daphne as well.

That said, I think that this story is a little too positive and idealistic in it’s exploration of “what if” the US became a monarchy. It almost made the monarchy sound like such a positive thing, like there was never any issue with monarchs holding onto power or getting greedy, corrupt by it. Basically every single Monarch in the line of succession since George Washington was this perfect, moderate person who did the right thing always, putting America ahead of themselves. And historically, that is not the case. If you studied all of European history you would know that there were kings who were not so great, and some who were great. Every monarch in European History had good and bad sides, just like every president of the United States had good and bad sides. But this context, or the opportunity to have Beatrice’s father explain about bad things that happened in the past is never brought up, so for me this historic side falls flat. I love historical fictions, or historical “what ifs” but this book is more about the romance and an unrealistic view of history, so there’s points off for that part.

Aside from that, I’m looking forward to see how the relationships between the characters develop and change, which I hope will lead to a happily ever after…because if you can’t have an honest view of the two sides of the coin in history, you can at least give this story a fairytale ending where everyone gets what they dream of. Right?

We’ll see in the next book.

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