Friday, May 20, 2022

61. Rivals (American Royals #3)

Rivals (American Royals #3) Katharine McGee. 2022. [May] 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Beatrice pulled her arms overhead in a stretch. 

Rivals is the third novel in the American Royals series. For those not familiar with the series, the premise is that George Washington became King instead of President. The Washington family has been reigning since the Revolution. There are three Washington siblings: Beatrice, Samantha, and Jefferson. America is not the only nation that has been re-imagined with a royal family. I would say almost all nations/countries have a reigning royal family. Not that McGee spends the majority of her text filling in and filling up her world. The series specializes in the adventures/misadventures of the love lives of the three Washington siblings. Not surprisingly, the book is told with alternating narrators. Surprisingly, Jefferson is not one of the narrators. Instead of Jefferson's voice, readers are "treated" to two potential love interests Nina and Daphne. 

To "refresh" your memory, at the start of this novel:

  • Beatrice is NOT married to Teddy (though she spent all of book two engaged and planning a wedding). But the two are still together.
  • Samantha (a twin) is head over heels with Marshall (a man that she fell for while pretending to date). The two have some conflict because it is an interracial relationship.
  • Jefferson is "on" with Daphne. But his friendship with Nina is "on" as well. The previous two books has been very messy with these three. HOWEVER, in the first two books, it was not a triangle but a rectangle. Ethan was always on stand by to switch out with Jeff. Whichever girl wasn't currently with Jeff was secretly (or not so secretly) with Ethan. 

So what does the third book offer readers?

[sound of silence]

Honestly, I feel this third book is a huge step backwards from the first two books. Turns out, I must have a secret (or not so secret) liking for Ethan. I don't know if it is Ethan himself, or, the fact that he offers some tell-it-like-it-is chaos. I honestly don't know if that's the best description. But there is no pretense, not really, with Ethan. 

Beatrice. It's not that I hate Beatrice, I don't. I think it's just that the author seems BORED of this character and like her chapters are a chore to write. There seems to be a disconnect with the way this character is written and how the others are written. I don't know that it's fair to say that Beatrice is playing at being a grown up in this one. But I just found her scenes where she is being a FIERCE Queen a bit ridiculous. (There's one laughable scene, not meant as a joke, where she stands up and make a speech ... and I won't continue with spoilers, but seriously. Just no.) Still, I didn't like how this one ended for Beatrice. It was just like the author was like DONE.

Sam. I think Sam is by far a more interesting character. She's had a handful of interesting love interests. Her scenes can have some drama that feels a little CW, but, her chapters move quickly. I do like her relationship with Marshall. But at the same time, these serious "notes" seem a little disconnected with the series as a whole. I have a LOT of questions about this alternate American history. And how this alternate series of events--a royal family instead of elected Presidents (and elected Congress) usually from two differing political parties--would impact EVERYTHING in society/culture. I could think of dozens of questions. I'll narrow it down to two or three--WAS there a civil war? WHEN did slavery get abolished? WAS there a civil rights movement? I could go on and on. Not just about race. But about EVERYTHING. The changes seem to be so small and insignificant they are barely noticeable. 

Nina. I do like Nina. She may be even more of a favorite than Sam. But I don't always like how she's "stuck" just being a love interest for Jeff and a sidekick for Sam (when Sam wants one). I get that these three grew up inseparable and that before the series open, there are literally twelve to sixteen (ish) years of back story for these three being TIGHT. But I almost like Nina better when she's not in the shadow of the royal family.

Daphne. Would there be any action in any of the books without Daphne moving the plot forward???? She is the chaos that initiates anything and everything. Mostly. That being said, my FAVORITE FAVORITE part of this book was the new-found friendship between her and Nina. I never in a million years thought I'd be cheering for these two to be best friends. But for a couple of chapters, there was this excitement of what it could mean. What if both girls decided that there was more to life than hanging all over Jeff??? But I was unsatisfied with how these stories played out. 

 Would I like Jeff MORE if he narrated his love life??????? He just seems SO VERY VERY VERY empty. Like as full of life as Disney's Prince Charming (animated original)--in other words not at all. 

I was disappointed with this third book. I had extremely low expectations, mind you, I wasn't expecting sudden genius. But I wanted more entertainment--even if that is twists and turns throughout. 

This series is MOST irritating if you in any way like history. The more history you've read in your life, the more irritating the series will be. Same with if you are a genealogist. The idea that there could even be a Washington family to reign and rule for two centuries is absurd. But the wider you expand this fictional world, the more questions you have. Like with genetics. HOW do you get past all the genetic problems from ruling royals. So this book may be above my maturity in some aspects.

© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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