I would describe the American Royals series as nothing but a guilty pleasure. It’s not mind-blowing, it’s very hetero-relationship, boy-centric. But at times it gets the heart-warming and the romance just right.
Series: American Royals #2
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 1st September 2020
Ownership: eARC provided by the publisher
Rating: 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.
About the Book
[Spoilers for American Royals]
At the end of the previous book, we’d been left in a mess. Beatrice had unexpectedly become Queen of America, forcing an end to her relationship with Connor, Nina had been abused by the media and forced to break up with Jefferson, and Sam was heartbroken by Beatrice’s decision to marry Teddy. And Daphne was Daphne.
This book (very gently) deals with grief of losing a father, the fear of having to live up to expectations and the frustration of wanting to find love in a role that cannot indulge in it. Beatrice is struggling to assert herself is Queen, Nina is trying to distance herself from the royal family, Sam is hatching an elaborate plan and Daphne is scheming (obv).
I can’t fault my enjoyment of this book. And it was a lot like the previous one, in that it is 80% enjoyable YA trash, and 20% something meaningful that pulls you back to it. But in this book, the actual meaningful, assertive decision-making came much closer to the end. And the parts that were trash were really trash.
In fact, the way the characters were behaving was as though the previous book had never happened – everyone was rebounding on everyone else and basically someone at the tea party shouted ‘all change’ and they all swapped partners. And I’m not convinced all of the romance swaps were for the best and some of them ended up being just as messy (if not worse – because secrets and manipulation). It would be different if we were supporting them in their flawed relationships, trying to make things work, but instead we just tried out something new. And it wasn’t great.
What’s worse, though, is that I’ve just found out that this is a duology? And that this is the final book? Or at least that the author has no current intention of writing a third. It’s so NOT. It’s a middle book! There are lots of things that need tying up. That doesn’t mean that it needs to end in marriage, but it does need to have some kind of resolution?!
(I’m actually so fuming now I’m tempted to bump it down a star).
The only character who actually had any closure (if it can be called that), and full storyline, is Daphne. She’s worked for what she wants, she’s cut every tie and become her own mother to get it. I loved the sad realisation she had at the end, and that probably reflects poorly on me. But that still shouldn’t make this the final book.
What actually also worked for me was Beatrice’s character, and I would have enjoyed just reading about her, to be honest. She grows a lot more – she is grieving for her father, struggling to assert herself as Queen, to work out where she stands but also keep up her persona. Not to mention her personal turmoil, and I loved seeing the slow growth of her relationship with Teddy because, when someone gives you the exact support and care you need, it’s hard not to feel something for them! (What I didn’t like was how it was barely addressed that this was her sibling’s ex).
And I appreciated all the the revelations the Sam, Nina and Beatrice had towards the end – the ‘we are enough type’ discovers – but I didn’t really get any satisfaction from that. Partly because they had all been mooning over various men, or boys, for the last two books. So either go full romance, or go full autonomous feminism but don’t give me a bit of one and some of the other.
Not to mention that all of the men in this are just a bit bland and side-lined. This is something that frustrates me no end. I get that the focus is on the female characters. But if their love interests are uninteresting, or one-dimensional, then that really detracts from my appreciation for the women’s decision-making and strength. Because we’re not getting a good message; they’re just making poor decisions that reflect poorly on them. The men don’t have to dominate the story, but they do need to compliment the women’s ability to make decisions by at least being interesting …
And, quite honestly, there are a lot of good YA books out there that deal with a wide range of relationships, sexualities and ways of showing love. This book actually felt quite dated, with four heterosexual couples all wanting basically the same thing from their relationships.
In all, I got a lot of enjoyment out of reading this, but not much satisfaction.
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.