About the Book

Title: American Royals
Published: 2019

Cover Story: Queen Kardashian the First
Drinking Buddy: 
Hail to the King
MPAA Rating:
PG (Some adult situations, alcohol use)
Talky Talk: 
It’s Good to be the King
Bonus Factors:
Alternate History, Arranged Marriage
Bromance Status:
Long Live the King

Cover Story: Queen Kardashian the First

Very patriotic. I’m assuming this is supposed to be Samantha, the ‘cool’ daughter. It gives a good impression of the royalty/celebrity/politician vibe the Washington family has. Picking this book up, you’d assume it was about Hollywood royalty.

The Deal: In 1781, after his victory at Yorktown, General Washington acceded to the demands of his generals and declared himself King of America, George I. In modern times, his descendants still hold the throne, led by kindly patriarch George IV. Because there was no American example of democracy, most other nations still have kings, emperors, czars, etc.

George and the Queen Consort Adelaide have three children: Princess Beatrice, who will one day become the first Queen Regent of America (before now, all American monarchs were male). Young Samantha, the wild Washington child. Her twin brother Jeff, the most eligible bachelor in North America. Rounding out the cast are Nina Gonzalez, daughter of a cabinet minister and best friend of Samantha, and Daphne Deighton, Jeff’s ex girlfriend who is determined to win him back at any cost.

Told in alternating points of view between Beatrice, Samantha, Nina and Daphne, we learn what America would be like in a nation where the leader holds their position due to divine right.

Drinking Buddy: Hail to the King

Two pints of beer cheersing

This is a royal family the nation can be proud of. King George is serious and rigidly follows protocol, but his duty is to America first. I couldn’t help but picturing him as Martin Sheen from The West Wing. Beatrice is the heir apparent, willing to do whatever it takes to become the first female leader in American history (can you believe it? In this universe, America has never had a woman leader!). Samantha likes to play hard, but she’s jealous of the way her family treats her as a spare. Just an extra princess in case Beatrice (or Jeff) can’t handle the job. Nina genuinely likes being besties with a princess…not because she’s a princess, but because she’s Samantha. However, Nina is a commoner from an upper-middle class background. She’s not royalty, which makes the friendship dynamic someone slanted. And Daphne…Daphne is going to marry Jeff. He just doesn’t realize it yet. She’ll get him back, no matter who is standing in her way. Her old friend Himari stood in her way. Himari has been in a coma for a year now.

MPAA Rating: PG (Some adult situations, alcohol use)

So here’s where things get complicated. As the first true Queen of America, Beatrice will need to choose a King Consort. Someone to help her with the difficult tasks that lie ahead. Her parents give her a list of suitable candidates. She proposes to Lord Theodore, the least stuck up and most down to earth of the suitors. She doesn’t love him, of course, but that will come in time. It’s not like she could just run off with Connor, her bodyguard, who would do anything to make her happy. Anything.

Samantha had been growing fond of a boy named Teddy, believing that he liked her and maybe this was the start of something special. Imagine her surprise when the Palace announces that he’s now engaged to Beatrice. Does her sister have to take everything Samantha has ever wanted? Does her sister even have a choice?

Nina and Jeff have been sneaking around together, on and off, for some time. Nina has reservations about dating the hottest, most powerful, most charming literal prince in the nation. She’s not royalty. The family would never accept this. And how would her best friend Sam react to the news that she’s been seeing her brother? Nina gets a hard lesson in publicity, when the tabloids do find out. Dear God, don’t read the comments…

When Daphne was dumped by Jeff, she vowed that this was only a roadblock. She’ll get him back. And if ugly, common, nerdy Nina thinks she’s going to steal her man, oh, she has another thing coming. Daphne was born to marry a prince. It’s what she (and her parents) have fought for. She’s America’s sweetheart! #teamdaphne It’s not like she could be happy with anyone else, such as Ethan, Jeff’s scheming friend who seems to have a lot in common with her.

Talky Talk: It’s Good to be the King

The author did a good job of making the four POV characters distinct, and flawed enough to keep my interest. Like most political families, the Washingtons are in the limelight, whether they like it or not. King George wants to give his children leeway to behave like normal young adults, but they are royalty, and must act like it. Anything a family member says will be in the gossip rags tomorrow. There must be no scandals. America loves its royal family, but it loves it even more when someone screws up.

At the same time, this family is not much different from the children of a powerful politician or celebrity. Honestly, the royalty aspect almost seemed like a gimmick at times.

This book is apparently the first in a series, so I’m anxious to see how things pan out.

Bonus Factor: Alternate History

President Truman holding up a newspaper that falsely declares Dewey the winner of the 1948 election.

It’s true that there really was a move to crown George Washington as king after the Revolution. And he had to have at least thought about it. In this universe the Washingtons have sat on the American throne for two and a half centuries. So what’s this world like?

It’s not super different from our own, really. This is a constitutional monarchy and the king’s role seems almost identical to that of the President of the United States. Congress still makes the laws. The king is the commander-in-chief, but not an absolute ruler. George IV says this system is the best, as it prevents politicians from corrupting the leadership with their own ambition. And you have to admit, he has a point.

I’d like to know more about the history of this America. It’s stated that slavery was not abolished for generations, but we don’t know if there was a Civil War. Did the World Wars happen? In this world, the Native American tribes wield considerable political power. How did that come about? Personally, I would have liked the author to delve a little deeper into the past couple of centuries.

Bonus Factor: Arranged Marriage

Eddie Murphy in 'Coming to America' meeting his arranged bride.

Now Beatrice’s engagement wasn’t arranged, per se. She was given a list of appropriate potential husbands and was free to pick out whichever one she liked. Obviously, her heart was not in it (her heart, in fact, was with her broad-shouldered bodyguard). But such is the life of a queen. It’s not like she could change the rules. It’s not like America would accept her being involved with a commoner.

Bromance Status: Long Live the King

This book stung my pride in American Democracy, though not as bad as the last three years have. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. No money or royal title, however.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.