Series: Royal We #2
Published by Grand Central Publishing on July 7, 2020
After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca "Bex" Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world's judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.
But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they'd placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick's brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten—nor forgiven.
I liked this book, although not as much as I liked its predecessor.
I was really rooting for Bex and Nick throughout, but I was also annoyed throughout much of the book. Bex kept trying to reestablish her friendship with Freddie, but he needed some time and distance (understandably). There were moments where it seemed like Bex felt slighted that Freddie wouldn’t open up to her about his love life, for example, that irked me because it struck me as being selfish of her, and insensitive to both Freddie and Nick. She knew how Freddie felt about her and kept trying to act as though things were the way they were before, but both Freddie and Nick were uncomfortable with that.
I also think there is some dynamic at play where one person has feelings for anther person who, perhaps unintentionally, takes advantage of those feelings. I don’t know how to really put it into words but I kept thinking that when it came to Freddie, Bex had some upper hand in their relationship because of everything that had happened between them. And yet when Freddie made it clear that he needed time and space, Bex was hurt. It didn’t really seem to me that she was able to take his or Nick’s feelings into consideration. And when it seemed like Freddie was getting involved with someone and it was turning into a relationship, Bex got very judgmental about it, in a way that made me wonder if she was jealous – even though she was married to Nick and kept insisting that she didn’t feel that way about Freddie. Towards the end of the book, her mom tells her that she basically has to let Freddie go, and I had wanted someone to yell that at Bex throughout the entire book! She came off as annoying and jealous every time Freddie was around and I did not like it or enjoy it.
My heart went out to Nick, who clearly loved Bex but had felt betrayed by both her and Freddie. I was most interested in seeing how the brothers would heal their relationship (or not) as the story went on. Not that Nick didn’t make some infuriating decisions either – there were moments where I wanted to yell at him, to get him and Bex to just talk to each other.
The Queen was a fascinatingly aggravating yet sympathetic character, and she ended up being my favourite person in the book.
The thing that really got to me about this book, though, was View Spoiler » the use of Freddie as a donor for Bex and Nick’s baby. I was baffled. BAFFLED. When the idea was first raised, I thought that it was absurd and that there was no way it would actually happen. And at first everyone was equally aghast (well, except the Queen). And then when they all started to get on board with the idea, I just – I couldn’t – I think I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it. I was really struggling with that part of the story. I just didn’t understand how they would think it’s a good idea for Freddie to basically father a child with his sister-in-law, who he had been in love with, and whose actions (along with hers) jeopardized his relationship with Nick, Bex’s marriage, and the monarchy’s public image. It was too weird for me and made me way too uncomfortable, but maybe that’s just me…And this is minor compared to the rest, but I was also hoping that we would see Clive get some sort of comeuppance for his betrayal, but no such luck. « Hide Spoiler
All in all, this was a good, entertaining follow up to The Royal We, although I think it was overlong and dragged at times (and despite the THING that boggled my mind).