Royals & Romance

When the plot of a novel closely follows a love story as well-known as the one between Prince William and Kate Middleton it’s not a spoiler to say that the ending was a happy one which featured their romantic wedding.

I was one of the massive group of fans who adored that 2015 novel, The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and joined in the excitement when we learned that the authors were planning to publish a sequel… until the title was released – The Heir Affair?  Who could possibly be involved in this affair and which heir?  Why?  The original ending – the ‘happily-ever-after’ ending – of their previous novel did a fine job of tidying up storylines and providing faithful readers with something that felt right.

With the knowledge that the authors were dipping back into the world of the British royal family it was so very hard not to wonder which beloved character could ever be written as ‘unfaithful’.  And, now we had to wait until the summer of 2020 to find out!?  Too cruel.  So now, finally, we have the delightful second installment in their version of this tabloid favourite love story, probably the only good thing to come out of the summer of 2020.  I finished this book in one single, thrilling day.  Not a lick of work was accomplished at my house and it was the best day.  Cocks and Morgan wrote a sequel worthy of their characters and their readers and treated us both as we deserved.

If you haven’t read the first book, The Royal We yet, you have a treat in store.  It follows, fairly closely, the relationship between the future British king, William (known as Nick) and American art student Rebecca/Bex (Kate) and their friendship with a sensationally supportive group of people they met while studying at university.  Nick has a red-haired younger brother named Freddie (their version of Harry) who is loved by everyone, especially his regal grandmother. Rebecca has a twin sister named Lacey (an almost Pippa) who comes to the UK to visit and causes trouble for everyone.  Nick’s grandmother is the current queen Eleanor (Elizabeth) and his father is the very formal Richard (Charles).

The stresses of falling in love so young, of a non-royal learning the ropes of being constantly scrutinized make for a roller coaster relationship but also an opportunity for the reader to become invested in their future and fall in love with their friends, especially a baking-mad, clumsy fellow known as “Gaz” which is short for Garamond (his ancestor invented the font), and fierce classmate Lady Beatrix Larchmont-Kent-Smythe.  The 450+ pages are filled with romance, royal shenanigans and much discussions about wedding plans and the future.

It’s not ruining anything to say that Nick, Bex and Freddie are all back in this satisfying sequel.  It begins in the most charming way, with scenes set in a Wigtown, a place that I was sure the authors had invented until I read their comments at the end of the novel.  Nick and Bex are living in an Airbnb and running a Scottish bookshop.  It’s a real place that we could all travel to visit someday – delightful bonus.  Twin sister Lacey is still on the scene and extended members of the royal family who provided support to Bex when she was learning the ropes are still there for her when things get rough and provide some excellent dialogue as well.  Gaz is back and is making great strides with his flavourful cooking, trying for a spot on “Ready, Set, Bake”.  Lady Beatrice, Cilla and Bex’s family are a part of the story but have smaller roles with the three young royals working hard for their grandmother by supporting the various charities and attending events on her behalf.​  Tensions rise and fall depending on the opinions expressed by the vicious British press with new ‘scandals’ being discovered almost every day.

The authors don’t stay as close to the William and Kate storyline with this novel but do have their characters enjoy a Canada​-U.S. tour which is sweet to re-live.  They make reference the CFL, Anne of Green Gables and enjoy a visit to the Calgary Stampede (with appreciation for the hats).  They also insert many true-to-life tidbits about the royal household, British history and include a fabulous state visit for the Dutch royal family which involved a slight renaming of King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima.  Freddie takes a more serious role in the military like his real-life counterpart but the details about how the authors tie up his romantic future are, well, they are all part of this contemporary romance in a royal package.  They made several big decisions in the pacing that made it possible to flesh out characters that we had just barely met in the previous book and tied up loose ends in a way that was so pleasing.  It was tempting to rush through to the final chapter to see where Nick, Bex and Freddie end up but it was always clear that the authors had their best interests (and ours) in mind.

This book series is frothy, royal fun that makes you cheer for love to win in the end.  Brew yourself an entire pot of tea and find a slice something cake-like (that Gaz would approve of) and just enjoy some time spent with an entertaining group of friends.

— Penny M.