Published: April 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ♥ ♥
The Royal We was a Book Club read and disclaimer up front: I don’t think this genre is generally up my street hence hence the rating. Nonetheless, I was slightly intrigued by the fact that the book is a fictionalised account of Kate and William’s story and was willing to have my initial impressions proven wrong.
A year abroad at the University of Oxford has American Rebecca Porter finding adventure and romance – with the future King of England no less. Prince Nicholas lives across the hall from Bex and before long she is swept up in his eccentric group of friends, his undeniable charm and the unbelievable royal lifestyle. But as is the way with fairy tales, the path of true love is not without its obstacles and Bex finds herself thrust in the spotlight and caught up in the whirlwind of fancy parties, the tabloid press and the persistent paparazzi. And that’s not to mention the drama that her twin Lacey, Nick’s brother Prince Freddie and the couple’s respective families add into the mix. Before long Bex finds herself in the middle of a royal scandal and at risk of losing the life and love that she has sacrificed everything for…
The authors of the book run the successful fashion and celebrity blog Go Fug Yourself so it was interesting to read a book where the baddies are essentially the invasive tabloid press and bloggers who dig up the ultimate dirt on celebrities and light the kindle that propels scandals into the open. Cocks and Morgan are clearly very well acquainted with this journalistic style and are pleasantly critical of the harmful consequences it can have for and on the subjects of tabloid gossip. It was refreshing that the book was sympathetic to Bex’s experience of the rabid paparazzi even as Cocks and Morgan owe their success to this kind of journalism and showed a level of self-awareness that I could appreciate.
However, when it comes to the actual story, I wasn’t particularly invested from the get go. It is closely based on Kate & Wills story (besides the obvious and glaring differences like the fact that Bex is American, they’re at Oxford rather than St. Andrews, and Nick’s mother is alive and kicking) and so it didn’t feel like anything new was being offered about the famous courtship. The characters felt a little bland and one-dimensional with each having one dominant personality trait that underlined their inclusion in the book – Gaz as the comic foil, Celia as the stalwart best friend, Lady Bollocks as the classic stuck up posh girl later turned ally, Freddie as the playboy prince, Lacy as the spoiled twin desperate to share Bex’s limelight. The tropes meant that you could almost see the story play out without reading even half of the book.
It also felt like the book could’ve been much, MUCH shorter without detracting from the main plot. A lot of the drama felt contrived and unnecessary while many of the chapters and events felt like filler material before we got to the climax – so much so that it was a bit of a slog to get through the 300 or so pages in the middle and still feel invested in the characters and their respective stories. One thing that irritated me was the introduction of some heavy topics such as mental illness and sexuality which I initially applauded but promptly realised they were essentially plot devices brought on stage to further Bex and Nick’s relationship and then it was exit stage left. I definitely think these issues could have been developed with a bit more attention and respect. The twist at the end whilst interesting came too late to reinvigorate my interest and by then I was just on the home stretch looking forward to finishing it.
I think people who are fans of gossip sites or even the history/”behind the scenes” of the Royal family might enjoy The Royal We more than I did and as I said up front this really wasn’t my cup of tea to begin with. But despite this, even though I was willing to be pleasantly surprised and proven wrong, Cocks and Morgan didn’t put forward a new spin on this well-known story to gauge much interest on my part 😦