I don’t read very often. When I do read, it’s almost always realistic fiction, which is why reading (and enjoying) American Royals by Katharine McGee came as such a surprise to me.
The first book follows the stories of four girls in a world where George Washington chose monarchy over the United States instead of presidency. Beatrice is the cautious heir to the throne, Samantha the princess is her headstrong younger sister, Nina is Samantha’s best friend, and Daphne is Beatrice and Samantha’s brother, Prince Jefferson’s, scheming on and off girlfriend.
The first book came out this time last year (and it’s a fantastic read) so I thought I’d give book two, which released September 1st, 2020, a try.
Here’s what I thought.
Book one left off with the death of the king, Beatrice, Samantha, and Jefferson’s father. This ultimately leaves Beatrice as Queen, forced to marry Teddy Eaton, a man who Samantha loves and Beatrice has no care for. Beatrice herself is in love with her guard, Connor Markham, who leaves her service once he finds out she is marrying Teddy.
Here’s what I thought about that plotline: While I love that Beatrice and Teddy eventually grow to love each other and Samantha falls out of love with Teddy and in love with another character, I don’t like how Connor was so quickly written off as a character after being such an essential part of the first book. We were all rooting for Bee and Connor, and now we’re equally rooting for Bee and Teddy. Connor was a great character, very well written, and his sudden departure from the story feels unnecessary.
Book one also left off with the breakup of Nina and Prince Jefferson, with the underlying assumption that they would get back together in book two.
They didn’t. Now, I like that Nina and Ethan found each other in the end, but I didn’t like how McGee didn’t patch her relationship with Jefferson at all, even if they were only to remain friends. While Nina and Ethan are much better for each other than Nina and Jefferson were, the fact that they were such good childhood friends and now don’t even speak anymore is questionable and somewhat unsatisfying.
Daphne’s friend wakes up from her coma and we learn that Daphne herself was the cause of it – something that wasn’t shocking at all. McGee pulls off a brilliant feat of writing with the character of Daphne – making her unlikable while in other points of view but relatable in her own point of view. At some points, the reader even feels sorry for her, even though every action she takes is borderline despicable. Daphne’s character developed more through the second book, and her arc was well completed.
What I didn’t like but was necessary: Daphne and Jefferson getting back together at the end of the book. Daphne has no feelings for Jefferson, but Jefferson relies on her like a puppy dog, a relationship which is concerning. However, this was inevitable, and McGee employs it to show that not everyone always has a happy ending.
Ultimately, the book was well written and tied up loose ends from the first, but ended up somewhat unsatisfying. While the “not having a happy ending” trope is acceptable, it shouldn’t really apply to every single character. I’m glad Sam and Marshall ended up happy though.