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The Royal We


The Royal We

Anyone who follows the blog Go Fug Yourself (and if you don't, what are you waiting for?) knows that its hilariously brilliant authors, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, have a bit of a thing for the British royal family. Their blog, which skewers celebrity fashion choices, has somewhat of a soft spot when it comes to Kate and Wills --- and especially Prince William's younger brother, Harry. So it might come as no surprise that when Cocks and Morgan decided to jointly write their first novel for adults (after two successful YA books), they chose as their subject the British monarchy and an endearingly flawed American who gets wrapped up in it.

THE ROYAL WE's royal family is based on an alternate family tree, one that nevertheless bears an awfully strong resemblance in a lot of ways to the real-life Windsors. The fictional House of Lyons includes a charmingly off-color Queen Mum, a coolly competitive long-reigning queen, her domineering son, and his two sons, Nicholas and Freddie, certainly the most eligible bachelors in the realm. Sound at all familiar? In this family history, however, the boys' mother, Emma, is merely distant, not dead --- although the eventual explanation for her reclusiveness is still heartbreaking and will bring back fresh memories for anyone who took Princess Diana's death to heart.

"THE ROYAL WE is an epic love story between two flawed but ultimately redeemed characters whose 'happily ever after' is every bit as hard-won as any real-life couple."

Into this dynasty of dysfunction comes unsuspecting Rebecca (Bex) Porter, literally the last person anyone would expect to fall head over heels in love with a future king. Bex's twin sister, Lacey, is the one who spent a childhood trip to Disney World in head-to-toe princess garb; Bex just wanted to run away. But when she discovers that her junior year exchange program at Oxford University puts her in a dorm room just down the hall from Prince Nicholas --- whom she doesn't even recognize when they first meet --- she soon realizes that she's falling for this thoughtful, vulnerable, earnest and funny young man, even though being a princess is the last thing she ever would have wanted.

THE ROYAL WE takes place over the course of nearly a decade, tracing the future royal couple's initial flirtation and romance, following their friendships and rivalries, and especially exploring their respective family relationships, particularly with Freddie and Lacey (who may also explore a relationship with one another). Their relationship follows the same trajectory as a number of romances --- but in this case, many of the complications the two encounter are peculiar to their station. Bex bristles against the scrutiny of the press, as does Nick, who strives to keep their relationship a secret longer than Bex would have liked. Bex worries that not only her career and her fashion sense but also her very identity will be found lacking and need to be overhauled before she is deemed worthy of the royal heir. And both Bex and Nick must learn which of their friends they can trust --- and which are just out to hurt, exploit or betray them.

It would have been easy for THE ROYAL WE to devolve into mere escapism (although, don't get me wrong, I read the whole 400+ pages in a day and a half), but its authors --- who succeed in conveying a thoroughly unified narrative voice --- still manage to inject universal themes into their very particular story. Sure, the initial premise is a little far-fetched (would Nick's security detail really have allowed an unknown American to move onto his dorm floor otherwise occupied with friends who have known him since birth?). And sure, as much as I don't want to admit it, the book's length probably could have been cut by 20 percent without suffering at all.

That being said, THE ROYAL WE is an epic love story between two flawed but ultimately redeemed characters whose "happily ever after" is every bit as hard-won as any real-life couple.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 1, 2015

The Royal We
by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

  • Publication Date: April 7, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455557102
  • ISBN-13: 9781455557103