What if America was a monarchy? What would our royal family look like?

Katharine McGee’s American Royals (Random House 2019) is a lukewarm, soapy YA novel that reads like a PG-13 Bridgerton without the sizzle.  One blurb referred to it as Crazy Rich Asians meets The Crown, but I didn’t get either.  The short-lived The Royals may have been a better comparison, but this didn’t have the opulence – the sex, drugs, delicious decadence – that I expected.  It may have been written for a much younger audience than I anticipated.

Expectations aside, the prologue was the best part of the entire novel and it was only a page a half.  I wish that cheeky narrator had interjected at more parts throughout the work as I think that would have brightened certain spots and provided a continual thread of levity that would have worked well with these overly dramatic tropy-soapy romances.

Beatrice, heir apparent, is in love with her bodyguard.  Torn between duty to country and her heart, her sections had potential to have significantly more heat than they did.

Samantha, the spare heir, is in love with the man the Crown has earmarked for Beatrice.  She’s the wild child, never feeling good enough for her parents or for America.  I expected more drinking and bad decisions from her.

Nina, a commoner, is Samantha’s best friend and in love with Jeffrey – the golden only male child of the throne.  She’s grown up with Samantha and Jeffrey, and she knows what the family is really like.  She loathes the spotlight and tries to blend into the background as much as possible.  I wanted to like her, but she was written to be as mousy a character as she’s described.

Daphne has been groomed her entire life by power hungry parents to take her seat next to Jeffrey.  She is polished and everything America thinks Jeffrey should be with, and she will not let anything or anyone stand in her way.  The villain of the book, her sections were some of the more interesting.  I wish, however, that the line between “mean girl” and “criminal mastermind” had been a bit more firmly crossed.

I recognize that I was not the intended audience and that the trope-filled soap opera was the intent, but I wish it had been a little more nuanced.  I doubt I’ll read the second one, but it’s an okay cutesy read.

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