Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

“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.*

*Summary from Goodreads

  • Title: The Royal We
  • Author: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Genre: Adult, contemporary, romance, chick lit
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Representation: Lesbian side characters
  • Trigger warnings: Mentions of drinking, mentions of sex, mentions of drugs, parental death, harassment (chased by paparazzi, verbal attacks by paparazzi), body shaming
  • Rating:  ★★★☆☆ 

Real talk: I love all things royal. Always have, ever since I was a kid. In fact, as a kid when I would tell people my favorite color is purple, I would follow that up with “it’s the color of royalty, you know!” I absolutely stayed up all night to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton get married (I maybe own the DVD and have watched it multiple times since their wedding) and I did the same when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married. Basically, if a royal family (real or fictional) is involved, I am right there. Which honestly is why it’s surprising that I didn’t pick up Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We, which was released in 2015, until now. 

It has been on my to be read list for years, but for some reason, I didn’t pick it up until my best friend recommended it to me last week (thank you very much!). I’m a sucker for modern-day royalty stories and even better if the love interest/mc is not royal. There’s always so much drama involved and I love it. Well, The Royal We definitely had no shortage of drama. 

While there were many parts of The Royal We that were quite predictable – you can definitely see the influence of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s own love story – that didn’t really bother me. I think when you’re reading a story about a royal and non-royal falling in love, there are some things that you can expect. The relationship is a secret for a while, the royal family disapproves of the relationship, at least one breakup at some point, the non-royal character having to deal with what exactly it means to be dating a member of the royal family, etc. The Royal We had all of these things but knowing that they were going to happen didn’t make me any less invested in the characters or the story, and a lot of that has to do with the writing style. Sometimes with books written by two authors, the writing can feel disjointed at times, or it can be obvious which parts were written by which author. I felt that the writing flowed from one section to the next easily, I couldn’t tell you which parts were written by Cocks and which were written by Morgan. I found the writing was clear and descriptive, easy to follow, and still engaging during the predictable parts. It’s a writing style that I enjoy because it feels very conversational.

The Royal We begins the day before Rebecca (Bex) Porter is set to marry Prince Nicolas of Great Britain. As Bex prepares for her wedding day she looks back on the last eight years of her life since she’d first met Nick at Oxford. Something that I loved about the book was that you were hearing events through Bex’s perspective after they had happened. Having Bex recounting the story was something that I also enjoyed because sometimes when she made choices that I did not particularly agree with, she was able to point out the mistakes that she made and that those were not the right choices. Though I will say, I think that for the majority of the book a lot of her choices were understandable. 

There were a lot of great characters in the book (and some annoying ones, looking at you Lacey), and while he maybe wasn’t my favorite favorite, the character I enjoyed reading about the most was Bex’s dad. Bex and her dad actually remind me a bit of me and my dad. They share a love for baseball and the Chicago Cubs (we’re Giants fans, but the way that they love the Cubs sure is similar to the way we love the Giants) and many of their conversations involve discussing the Cubs. One of the scenes in particular that I found absolutely adorable was them setting up a Skype session to watch a game together. They had a great relationship and it was clear that Bex had a great respect for her dad. He was able to laugh and joke with her, but also be real with her and help her get back on track after her breakup with Nick. Their connection was a highlight of the book for me.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few musical references in this book! I would not have expected it, but there were many and I loved it. Well, and me being me, I might’ve kept track of how many references there were (I absolutely kept track, there are eight references in total and four of them are Sound of Music references). Though my personal favorite reference was after Bex, Nick and their friends saw a production of Cats and one of the characters said, “I should sue him for terrifying me” about one of the actors interacting with him during the show. As someone who has seen Cats from the ninth row, I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. 

While I found this book to be, on the whole, very entertaining, I do have some issues with it. The book was very…white. Now I’m not saying that I want characters of color just thrown into the book and either written stereotypically or to have the fact that they are characters of color pointed out to us every single time that they’re mentioned, but it would’ve been nice if there was more diversity in the main cast. I was also not a fan of when Bex was getting her royal makeover, her stylist gave her hair extensions to make her hair thicker that were originally from an Indian woman. Bex is a privileged white woman, being styled per the request of the British royal family. Why are her hair extensions from an Indian woman? It didn’t make sense and did not at all sit right with me, I honestly think it’s pretty messed up and I cringed every time it was mentioned – which luckily wasn’t a lot, but I found it completely unnecessary. 

The last thing that really bothered me was how vague the mental illness that Nick’s mother, Emma, had was. At first I had thought that I might’ve  missed something and there was a specific diagnosis that I happened to miss, but then it was mentioned that the doctors had not given her a diagnosis and honestly I felt that it was a bit of a cop-out. The way that her mental illness was discussed by some members of the royal family was, in my opinion, insensitive and trivializing. I feel that in both The Royal We and it’s sequel The Heir Affair (released this year) Emma’s mental illness is used only as a means of character development for Nick. I felt that it was careless of the writers to address mental illness in this way. 

Overall I would say that The Royal We is an easy and enjoyable read – I finished the 17hr audiobook in two days – and while there were many aspects that I enjoyed there were some things that I think could’ve been improved upon. I would recommend it to fans of contemporary romance and those that enjoy stories about royals. I’d give it 3.5 stars, rounding up from 3.

Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound 


About the Authors

Heather Cocks is a die-hard sports fan, a Leo, an ex-reporter, a Notre Dame grad, a dual citizen of the U.S. and U.K., a sandwich enthusiast, and a former producer for America’s Next Top Model.

Together, Heather and Jessica Morgan skewer celebrity fashion crimes on their popular blog, Go Fug Yourself, which draws millions of monthly readers and made Entertainment Weekly’s Must List. They have covered New York Fashion Week for Cosmopolitan and New York magazine, and have written two young adult novels, Spoiled and Messy. The Royal We, their debut contemporary fiction novel, comes out April 7.

Website

Along with her partner-in-crime Heather Cocks, Jessica writes the popular celebrity fashion and pop culture blog Go Fug Yourself. She’s a Southern California native and UCLA alumna who produced reality shows ranging from Growing Up Gotti to the docu-series 30 Days before leaving the world of TV to write full-time.

Heather and Jessica have written two young adult novels, Spoiled and Messy. Their first adult novel, The Royal We, was a national bestseller. Its sequel, The Heir Affair, comes out in 2020.

Website

Happy reading!

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