Royals by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam BFYR
Published: May 2018
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.
While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.
Daisy just wants to live a normal American teenage life, thank you. She wants to go to nerdy conventions and meet favorite authors with her best friend, tell boys to get lost, and make enough money with her low-stress minimum wage job to do what she pleases. But nope, all hope of that was dashed aside when her older sister became engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland––which in turn meant tabloids, paparazzi, and the inevitable meeting-of-the-families. Prom photos and ex-boyfriend scandals reached a spotlight a bit too quickly though, and to make amends Daisy agrees to spend a portion of her summer in Scotland to meet her future royal in-laws––only, some of the family and their closest friends aren’t so sure about Daisy and her blunt American-ness.
What a riot!!! I loved it! Loved it. This is how you write American-meets-royal fiction. There are other YA novels out there recently where the girl is just one giant dunderhead, and I promise you, even people who have no interest in royalty know a thing or two about the culture, expectations, etc of the monarchy. Hawkins nailed it! It was like reading a YA The Royal We, and I ate it up.
Though there is no such royal monarchy of Scotland and Scotland only anymore, this reimagining of the isles felt so spot on. The hype surrounding the family, the history, the competitiveness between Scotland and England, it all felt so real and tangible. Kudos to Hawkins for really making this authentic and believable. It makes me wish Scotland still had their own monarchy! (Although that’s another political debate I’ll not go into at the moment…)
Daisy was absolutely fantastic. I want to be her friend! She’s so witty and funny––even in the super tense moments when humor is not the best tactic, she reminds me of people who laugh during funerals or giggle when others are sad. She just doesn’t have a filter and has so much energy and expression ready to burst forth, so when Miles (friend of the Crown Prince Alexander’s younger, reckless brother Sebastian) is trying to show her the ropes and teach her how to behave in public, shenanigans out of Daisy’s control ensue. My favorite is when she takes a dig at an older woman’s gigantic yellow-feathered hat, and the woman turns out to be a member of the royal family (Camille’s hat from Harry and Meghan’s wedding popped into my head and I couldn’t stop laughing).
I especially appreciated the romance in this novel. It wasn’t insta-love, but it also wasn’t hate-to-love either. More like wary-dislike-to-love. Hawkins took a jab at the insta-love trope when Daisy meets Sebastian in person for the first time, saying “I get a handshake instead of a hug, which is probably for the best as I think a hug with this boy might count as sexual contact.” Died. DIED. The fact we have a character here who can recognize and acknowledge lust versus love and handle it normally, authentically, realistically was like a breath of fresh air for me when reading YA. Massive thank you to Hawkins.
Seriously, what a ride. I loved every bit of it. For anyone looking for YA contemporary royalty reads, or something to tide you over to the next British royal event post-Harry and Meghan wedding, this is definitely the book for you. I can’t wait to read the companion!
This qualifies as book 10 of 16 in my TBR challenge.