Rachel Hawkins turns her signature wit into swoony upper-crust mayhem in ROYALS!
Sixteen-year-old Daisy Winters just got royally screwed.
It’s been weird seeing her older sister Ellie on the covers of tabloids ever since she started dating Crown Prince Alexander of Scotland (no, a separate Scottish royal family isn’t a real thing, just like Genovia isn’t a real place in The Princess Diaries. It’s a petty detail that the story doesn’t hinge upon, so roll with it), but when Ellie and Alex get engaged, the gossip rags soon discover Daisy in her quiet Florida town. Before she knows it, her now-ex boyfriend is trying to sell their prom pictures, there are photographers lurking outside her workplace, and the royals are shipping Daisy to Scotland for the summer to help “control the narrative.”
Thrust into the ultra-formal world of royalty and into the spotlight simultaneously, Daisy is just a wee bit uncomfortable with the palace life. The commoners may love Ellie, but royals are a clique of their own and they’re not all thrilled about the “American Invasion.” While Ellie is naturally a quiet, mild-mannered, respectable lady, Daisy is more of a vibrant spitfire who doesn’t quite mesh with posh society. Add in one too many encounters with infamous wild child Prince Sebastian and his friends, known to the media as the “Royal Wreckers,” and Daisy may be hurting Ellie’s case more than helping. That’s when the palace decides that rather than control Daisy’s narrative, they’ll help create it.
Daisy is an absolute hoot of a narrator! Author Rachel Hawkins is a sharp-witted writer who imbibes Daisy with a steady stream of hilarity and heart. She has her awkward moments, but Daisy isn’t incurably cringey a la Bridget Jones (and if I thought so, you’d know, because I suffer deep secondhand embarrassment and balk when a character experiences a mortifying faux pas.) Through all her ups and downs, you root for Daisy, who’s just a earnest person who doesn’t know how to be anything but herself. She also cares fiercely for her older sister. They’re very different and may not always see eye-to-eye, but Daisy recognizes that Ellie is trying to do the impossible: Be accepted, even liked, by everyone so she can spend the rest of her life with Alex without looming disapproval.
Of course, Daisy isn’t the only great character– which is good, because this story is all about character interaction. Her best friend Isabel provides an important anchor to her real life back home. Her parents are aging British hippies who are equal parts sage, hilarious, and embarrassing. In particular, it’s clear that Daisy has a special relationship with her short-lived rockstar dad and there’s some really touching moments between them. Then there’s Prince Sebastian and his Royal Wreckers: party boys through and through, surrounded by constant privilege. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re disastrous. The outlier of the group is Miles, who comes from an age-old line of royal couriers but doesn’t have an obscene wealth to his name. Instead, he and Sebastian just became very good friends as children and well, it stuck through thick and thin. Add in Sebastian’s twin, Princess Flora, who wants nothing to do with Ellie, Daisy, or just about anyone else for that matter, and it’s quite a mix. Hawkins does a great job humanizing all of these characters, though some still remain a little more forgivable than others.
Ultra-swoony romance moments that play a huge part in Daisy’s narrative– both real and fictionalized by the palace. It takes a little time to build up, but you can see the spark almost right away. So if you’re in it for the fast-beating melty heart, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Things are a bit messy around the edges, but when isn’t that the case when two young hearts collide under unbelievable circumstances? I won’t give too much away besides that, but you deserve to enjoy the cuteness for yourself.
Royals has a great ending and would work fine as a standalone, but I’m really glad that there’s a second book coming out that will give us more of Daisy’s story, because it was just such a blast to follow along!
BRB, off to buy all the Rachel Hawkins books ever published.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS
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.