April 13, 2015

In Publicity & In Privacy

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Hachette | Grand Central
Pages: 464 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

Thoughts on The Royal We
One of my co-workers introduced me to Go Fug Yourself a few years ago, and I've loved reading it ever since. My favorite posts are, unsurprisingly, their hilarious TV recaps (I read every single one for Lindsay on OWN, despite never watching the show) and anything they post about royalty. When I found out they had an adult novel being published, I was excited. But when I discovered it was basically inspired by William and Kate? I think my reaction went beyond excited and crossed into OMG I WANT IT NOW!

The Royal We opens with a wedding. American Rebecca Porter is about to marry the love of her life: Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. Something has happened, but you're not quite what it is before you're whisked back in time. Looking for adventure - and attracted to the idea of stepping out of her sister's shadow - Bex decides to study abroad at Oxford. But she has no idea she'll end up living right down the hall from Prince Nicholas! The more she gets to know Nick, "the person behind the prince," the more she falls for him. Dating him might seem glamorous, but it's not without its complications. Thrust into the spotlight, Bex and Nick will face enormous pressure - from their families, their friends and the country he'll one day lead. And Bex must decide what she's prepared to sacrifice for love...

I started this book on a Thursday night, and it was all I could think about at work on Friday. I wanted to sneak chapters under my desk and spend my lunch break reading in my car so no one could distract me! I chatted with my husband for a bit when I finally got home, and then I retreated to our bedroom to read for hours. I wasn't going anywhere until I finished this delightful story! I'd been in the middle of a reading slump, too, so it was a relief to have that "GO AWAY I'M READING" feeling again.

The Royal We is set in a world that's familiar - but slightly different. You are experiencing a version of William and Kate's romance, so you'll likely anticipate many of the events and characters that populate this story. You'll get to meet the impish younger brother, Freddie, and the sister who frequently finds herself in the spotlight, Lacey. There's the stiff and detached father, Prince Richard, and a whole host of other somewhat familiar faces. But that just added to the fun for me! The authors don't stop there though. You'll also meet Bex and Nick's friends, and they quickly became some of my favorite characters. None of the characters are one-dimensional or stereotypical. Each is complex and realistic, which takes the story from fan fiction to a well-developed and layered book. The fascinating premise is elevated by the talented writing!

It may be inspired by real people and their relationship, but it stands on its own merit. The authors have written about the research they did for this book, and it absolutely shows! They immersed themselves in Great Britain, which allowed them to bring the world to life in the pages of this book. I felt like I was back in Oxford (where I studied abroad during college) - and it made me long for an extended trip so I can explore every nook and cranny of England! If you're an Anglophile, you're going to want to read this book.

So, I loved the characters and the setting... and it was kind of a given that I was going to love the writing. I mean, I'm already a fan of the authors' blog! The story is engaging, and I thought the pacing was just perfect. It's a long book, but it never felt long to me. In fact, I'm dying for a sequel so I can spend more time with Nick and Bex - and get an update on Freddie, too, of course. But you know what I had no idea that I'd love about The Royal We? The way it made me think! It's a smart read, and it explores the press and public spotlight in a way I found incredibly moving. The publisher provided me with a Q&A with the authors, and one question discussed the inspiration for the book. Here's what stood out to me in their answer:
We were interviewing potential new agents, and got into a long discussion about Kate Middleton with a woman named Brettne Bloom with whom we'd eventually be lucky enough to sign. We were digging into what a surreal experience this must be for Kate Middleton, and how her private life is probably so different than any of us imagine, and what it must have cost her to live the public life that she now does. And Brettne basically was like, "That's a book that needs to be written. Someone has to write it," and Jess and I effectively raised our hands and started salivating. The gaps in public and private life for royal family members seem like they must be larger than with a lot of other people. Being a movie star with a clean image is one thing, but being the sovereign of a nation and all that entails... that is a whole other kind of facade.
While I've briefly thought about what a sovereign has to sacrifice, I'd really never considered what it would be like to grow up with that kind of weight on your shoulders... or to marry into it without having been prepared for the role. There were moments when I wondered if it was worth it. Could I give up my privacy - my Saturdays in pajamas watching Netflix - just to be with the person I love? Could I spend the rest of my life with the public watching my every move? William and Kate have always seemed like a fairy-tale romance, but this is the first time I stopped and thought about pressure and responsibility that goes along with it. For that reason alone, I think this book is worth reading!

But you know what's great? That's not the only reason to read The Royal We. This is the kind of adult fiction I crave! It's a book I'd love to read on the beach but would be equally comfortable discussing with a book club. It's proof that a book can be entertaining and thought provoking. I'll be pushing this one on my reading friends and my non-reader but royalty-loving friends. I had a feeling I'd enjoy this one, but I'm happy to say that I absolutely loved it. It's one that I want on my shelves and plan to re-read!

So Quotable
"I fell in love with a person, not a prince; the rest is just circumstance."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

3 comments:

  1. Augh, Hannah, I am having the exact same feelings for The Royal We - I'm not quite done yet, but seriously, as soon as I got it from Edelweiss a few days ago, I needed to read it immediately and I could not put it down. I was also surprised by the depth of the discussion of paparazzi and PR, and I am so annoyed that I didn't finish yesterday, because I am DESPERATE to know how this ends.

    So glad you had the same feelings as I do - I normally don't read reviews before I've finished reading the book, but I couldn't resist seeing what you had to say! =)

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  2. I basically need to read The Royal We RIGHT. NOW. It sounds like just the type of story I could (and probably will) fall in love with, and since I love everything Will and Kate, I have no doubt that I'll love the references to them as well ;)

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  3. When I first saw the cover of this one I knew I wanted to read it. And now, after your review, it's only cemented that opinion. Definitely one I'm now really, really looking forward to!

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