If you enjoy the soap opera-esque twists and turns of the British royal family, especially if you’re entertained by the scandals but secretly hoping for happily ever afters, Tracey Livesay’s American Royalty is the romance for you. It’s what would happen if someone took Harry and Meghan, Charles and Di, Fergie of the British royals, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Notting Hill and a couple of seasons of “The Crown,” then dumped them all in a blender.
In an alternate version of the U.K., the stately, commanding Queen Marina II has decided to hold a concert to honor her beloved late husband, Prince John—and to distract the public from the misbehavior of her scandalous sister and children. Responsibility for the event rests on the shoulders of her grandson, Prince Jameson, the only child of Marina’s younger son. Jameson’s father was infamous for his disastrous marriage, which ended when he died in a fiery car crash along with his mistress. Jameson has spent most of his life withdrawn from the public eye and working as a professor, but just when he thought he was out, the queen drags him back in.
On top of the royally mandated responsibility of managing the event, Jameson will also host the concert’s star, American rapper Danielle “Dani” Nelson, on his private estate. The U.S. tabloids have been hounding Dani about a made-up feud pushed by a fame-chasing one-hit wonder, and the bad press is endangering not just her celebrity but also the financial prospects of her skin care company. Taking a break in the English countryside during the weeks leading up to the concert seems like a good way to unwind . . . right up until she falls into bed with a gorgeous prince who provides a much more fun way to release tension. Dani’s and Jameson’s lives don’t align, and any discovery of their affair would be disastrous to them both, but how long can practicality hold them back when the draw between them is so strong?
Whether you’re looking for echoes of Charles and Diana’s broken fairy tale, Harry and Meghan’s defiant love against the odds, Queen Elizabeth’s clenched fist around her family’s marionette strings or the British tabloids’ gift for making everything worse, this story delivers. American Royalty is also full of beloved romance tropes that are familiar to the point of predictability, but fortunately, the characters ground the story with personalities that break free from cliche. Dani in particular shines: She’s a boldly sensual, compelling performer who rattles the aristocracy just by being unapologetically herself. The story doesn’t shy away from the challenges of her life—including blatant misogyny and barely veiled racism—and there’s plenty to admire in her grit and determination. Jameson’s inner struggles are poignantly drawn as he tries to honor the grandfather he adored while also figuring out how much he’s willing to sacrifice to save his family from itself. The joy Dani and Jameson find together feels like a reward for all they’ve had to overcome. In a world where so much goes wrong, it’s satisfying to see this royal couple get it right.