Friday, April 1, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Title: The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Narrator: Christine Lakin
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
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"I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next."

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.

It is common knowledge that I really don't read contemporary fiction. Basically ever. I was surprised at what a long book The Royal We was when I picked up the hard copy at the library a couple weeks ago and ended up putting it back down, deciding it probably wasn't worth my time. I'm not sure what it was about The Royal We that caught my attention and made me actually give it a try, but when I saw an audiobook copy available, I decided listening might give me the chance to hear the story without the effort of actually reading it. I am so glad I gave it a chance!

The Royal We is a love story, but it's so much more than that. This book spans over the course of several years and tells the story of Bex's life and relationships with several friends and family members. Bex is a fantastic, down to earth heroine who I loved getting to know and following over the years. I found her to be fun and spunky and believable, even if I did get the sense that the authors were trying to make her just a little too American at times with constant baseball and beer references. Even though I obviously have no idea what it would be like to become part of a royal family, I was able to easily sympathize with Bex and ended up falling in love with her, despite her issues (and her apparent snorting problem).

Apart from Bex, there is a huge cast of characters, but I never had a hard time keeping them straight and I loved almost all of them. Obviously, Nick is the main love interest, being the prince and all, and I really did enjoy him for the most part, even if I did want to beat him over the head once or twice. But perhaps my favorite character in The Royal We was Freddie, Nick's younger brother. He was hilarious but sweet and it was easy to understand how all the girls fell head over heels for him! One character I really couldn't stand was Lacey, Bex's twin sister. I didn't understand why she seemed to be SO much more immature than Bex, despite the fact that they were the exact same age. She irritated me almost from her introduction, but maybe that was the point. There is no way I can talk about all the characters in this book. Just know that they were all fantastic!

The plot of this book was surprisingly good. I really didn't know what to expect going in. You probably know that I read a lot of YA fiction, so I'm very used to the romantic love triangles found within the YA genre. It was actually very refreshing to read a book about a relationship that felt genuine and totally believable. It wasn't all sunshine and butterflies and there wasn't a ridiculous amount of completely ridiculous drama (although there was some drama, don't worry). I know a lot of people have complained and warned me that this was basically the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton, but with an American. Lucky for me, I know absolutely nothing about their relationship other than they keep having babies, and I was able to enjoy just about every minute of this story!

The one thing I didn't love about this book was the way it was split up. There are five parts, but it begins at the end, so there is no real mystery about whether or not Bex and Nick will ultimately end up together. Each part essentially ended at a different milestone in their relationship. Because of the narrative style, there were a few times it did seem to drag when I would have really preferred to speed things along. This wasn't a major sticking point though.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Royal We, which is way more than I thought I'd end up saying about it! Maybe this is because I don't pay attention to news or magazines and have no idea what's going on with the English royal family. Maybe the royal parts of it were enough fantasy to make me overlook my disdain for contemporary fiction. In any case, I thought this was a really great story and I would definitely recommend it to fans of contemporary romance (and even those who aren't)!