American Royals, Katherine McGee

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Beatrice wasn’t living a story. She was living history, and history went on forever.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

* *
2 / 5

McGee’s other series, The Thousandth Floor, is a guilty pleasure of mine. I loved the drama, the glitz, the glamour, the rumours, the intrigue, and the imaginative setting. Instead of being set in a futuristic tower, American Royals takes the premise “what if George Washington made himself King?” and runs with it. Well, it’s more of a shuffle. 

From now on, you are two people at once: Beatrice the girl, and Beatrice, heir to the Crown. When they want different things, the Crown must win. Always.

Princess Beatrice Washington will be the first Queen of America. That means, she’s got to find a man. But not just any man. A suitable one. Problem is, she’s in love with her commoner guard; Beatrice meets a bunch of eligible blokes anyway and ends up picking Teddy. Her younger sister Samantha snogs Teddy in a closet and is annoyed that, once again, Beatrice can have pretty much whatever she wants because she’s the heir and Sam is the spare. Sam’s twin, Jeff, is the last of the trio in the line of succession and so he does pretty much whatever he wants. His big problem is balancing his ex-girlfriend Daphne, beloved by royalty and the media, with his new flame Nina, who is both a commoner and Sam’s best friend.

Wild, right? So American Royals is told only from the point of view of the four women involved here: Beatrice, Sam, Nina, and Daphne. I thought this was kinda cool, but didn’t really see what the point of hearing from Daphne was; daughter of a Baron, Daphne wants to rise socially and so will do anything to get Jeff back. Her chapters are just lots of plotting, basically, and could’ve been cut. Beatrice is probably the most interesting of the four. She’s serious and committed to the crown, never putting a toe out of line. She even agrees to go on dates with eligible young men that she feels no romantic attraction for. She’s in a tough spot and I sympathised with her, but the whole guard romance was so unconvincing.

You are going to be the very first Queen of America. You have a steeper road to climb than all the eleven kings who came before you.

The big problem with American Royals is that it is basically four cliche straight romances. In fact, McGee hits virtually every variety of romance going: there’s the girl who needs to choose the ‘right’ boy over the ‘wrong’ one (Beatrice); the girl dating above her station who isn’t ‘good enough’ (Nina); the girl who wants someone who is dating someone else (Sam); and the girl who is dating to grab power (Daphne). It gets pretty dull fast.

The other issue I had was how unbelievable many of the events felt. I’m British so I won’t comment on the premise of the book – America having a royal family – because I’m entirely unfamiliar with American history. But there’s stuff like the King not telling his wife anything important, Samantha becoming infatuated after a tipsy snog, the twin’s apparent lack of anything important to do ever, other than attending parties.

There was something about the sight, something bright and glittering and full of promise.

I liked some aspects of this book, like the sisterly moments towards the end, and the way that Beatrice, for the most part, puts her duty first and acts like a sensible young woman. But mostly American Royals felt very uninspired and superficial.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book. 

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