If you are (also) suffering from Royal Wedding fever, Rachel Hawkins’ new young adult novel is your next drug. I must admit to reading an article or 20 on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding, so when Hawkins’ new book, Royals, landed on my doorstep the other day, I couldn’t stop myself from devouring it in one (kind of long) sitting. Reminiscent of The Princess Diaries and the Amanda Bynes movie, What A Girl Wants, Royals works as a light and fluffy read, one that doesn’t really do anything innovative with the rom-com genre but hits all those familiar notes for those looking for something fun to read in anticipation of the Royal Wedding.
Following up the fantastic Rebel Belle series, Royals centers on Florida teen, Daisy, whose life changes dramatically when her older sister announces her engagement to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Clearly taking some historical liberties by fictionalizing Scotland as an independent country, Hawkins imagines a romantic comedy with a reluctant protagonist who must learn what it’s like to be part of a world-famous royal family. With Little Mermaid red hair and a love of nerd culture, Daisy is the average teen working at a grocery store, with the exception is that she’s surrounded by tabloids exploiting her sister Ellie’s relationship with Prince Alex, the heir to the throne of Scotland. Thanks to her best friend, Daisy avoids the mostly-negative coverage of Ellie and Prince Alex and focuses on their plans for Key Con, a convention they are attending that summer to meet their all-time favorite author. However, Daisy’s plans are disrupted when Ellie and Alex unexpectedly arrive in town to announce their engagement.
Thrust into a new world, Daisy quickly learns that her lack of verbal filter can inadvertently cause some major drama. As she tries to navigate her posh surroundings, she has to contend with Alex’s younger brother, a misguided playboy of a prince, and his best friend, the untrusting Miles. Lighthearted drama is never far from Daisy, and those moments are funny and cute, if not exactly new.
While I enjoy how Hawkins brings a lot of depth to her characters, infusing particular characteristics with such distinctive voices, this story fails to do the characters justice. I found myself struggling to be invested in Daisy’s story and saw most narrative beats coming from a mile away. Typically, I expect the rom-com to follow its familiar formula, but I had hoped that Royals would do something different with it, like how the Rebel Belle series did its own thing with the opposites-attract romantic trope. Royals is basically like one of Meghan Markle’s Hallmark movies, sweet and safe but also a little hollow and unfulfilling story-wise.
Regardless, the characters make Royals worth the read. Part of me is still curious enough to know more about the book’s sequel, in hopes that by expanding this world, something different in store for us romantics. Until then, Royals will not get rid of your Royal Wedding fervor; it just makes you more excited.
Royals by Rachel Hawkins is available wherever books are sold on May 1, 2018.