Royals (Royals #1), by Rachel Hawkins
Publish Date: May 1, 2018
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Romance
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 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.
This book caught my eye (I mean, look at that cover) and the premise sounded interesting so I decided to pick it up. I was in the mood for a good, fun romance, and while this book had it’s ups, there were some downs too. It was fast-paced and funny, with some really interesting characters that had a lot more to them than what they were showing, but there were times when the pacing felt too fast and almost jumpy and the romance was a little lackluster in the long run.
I really loved Daisy and her quick witted attitude. She was a great narrator with some amazingly snarky lines that had me laughing out loud (Big Bird is still my favorite) and was easy to sympathize with. I very much enjoyed her friendship with Isabel, but I felt that some of the developments in her other relationships felt either a little fast or incomplete. In particular, her relationship with her sister, Ellie, was strained for almost the entire book, with a miraculous transition at the end that honestly, I would have loved to see more lead-up to. I just felt like their prior interactions should have shown more of them discussing, maybe even getting into heated arguments or something, about what was bothering them about the other. For the most part, they were so distant the entire book that I barely felt like they were even sisters at all. I know that the age gap between them is a significant reason for this, but I still didn’t really feel that sisterly connection that comes about from growing up together, even if you never really become friends.
My other issue was the romance. At first I was excited that it was going to be a hate-to-love trope, then there was the added fake-dating trope and I thought it was going to awesome and cute. But, honestly, I barely felt the connection at all. The interactions between Miles and Daisy were so sparse for the majority of the first book, that by the time they started showing any sort of feelings for each other, I felt a little deflated. It just took so long for anything to really blossom, and even when they hated each other I never felt like it was the sort of hate that could turn into something else, it was just plain dislike. There was also the fact that because of all the other things happening around them it just felt like the romance of it all kind of fell by the wayside for most of the plot.
The other characters were all interesting, and clearly had more to them than what was being shown. I knew from one line that Seb had more going on than what he led on, but Daisy spent so much time viewing him as a hot royal mess that I felt like we were never going to get to know what he was hiding by trying to lose himself in drinking and girls (and when that revelation did come, it felt so out of the blue and with very little prior evidence that I just don’t think it made sense in the overall plot). It was kind of the same for a lot of the other characters, too; because we were seeing everythting from Daisy’s point-of-view, she failed to really see a lot of the internal stuff these characters were probably struggling with, and only assumed as to what was actually causing their obvious physical distress when it was apparent to her. It became a little frustrating as I waited for her to read more into some of these other characters’ behaviors (particularly Seb, Elli, and Miles) but she rarely ever did. Such is the problem of unreliable narrators.
As for the story, it was definitely fun and engaging, and kept me eagerly turning the page for more, but it also had some issues. I loved the whole royal and Scottish atmosphere, but it did feel like too many cliches were thrown in, especially in the dialogue, just to emphasize the Scottish-ness of it all. The addition of blog posts and articles to augment the story and give an outside view of events was definitely a plus and made for an interesting story-telling. The pacing seemed fine at first, but then there would come points when Daisy would offhandedly say it had been a week since a specific event, even though it seemed like it had only been the day before. It was just difficult to follow the flow of time sometimes. There was also at least one instance when she mentioned an event that I could not for the life of me even remembering happening (and I flipped back and couldn’t find it, so I have no idea what was being referenced). Otherwise, though, it was still fun to read, with some unexpected twists and turns, and kept me smiling throughout most of it.
This was a fun, laugh-out-loud read, with a quick-paced story and some interesting characters. Sadly, the romance was not as romantic as I would have hoped, lost in the shuffle of royal matters as it were, and there were some issues I had with the relationship development between Daisy and those closest to her. I was also annoyed at times at the sudden skips in time that seemed to occur, and felt that some of the character growth was lost or missed because of how Daisy viewed the others around her. I think I am coming away from this book both happy and a little disappointed, happy because it was definitely fun to read and made me giggle often, disappointed because I feel like there was just so much potential with the characters and their relationships that was just missed out on.