"ROYALS," by Rachel Hawkins, Penguin Teen, 304 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
For those obsessed with the engagement of Prince Harry to the American actress Meghan Markle, "Royals" by Rachel Hawkins brings a new twist to the story of an American girl thrust into the royal lifestyle in the United Kingdom.
Daisy Winters, an American girl who happens to have British parents, is living a normal life in her Florida hometown when her older sister, Eleanor, gets engaged to Alexander, the future king of Scotland. This also brings attention to Daisy, who is still a minor, and not all of it is positive.
To help control her image, Daisy gets shipped to Scotland to spend the summer in a castle and learn the ways of royalty in the U.K. She struggles to conform, especially when Alexander's younger, rebellious brother, Seb, keeps dragging her into trouble.
Hoping to prevent more rumors about a relationship between Seb and Daisy, the royal family forces Daisy together with Seb's best friend, Miles. A Mr. Darcy-like character, Miles gives Daisy the impression he's a snob and at first she can't stand him. But as she gets glimpses of who he is beneath his armor, her feelings start to change.
A fun, quick read, "Royals" would be especially enjoyable for Anglophiles who might appreciate the descriptions of Scotland, its history and the day-to-day life of a royal family. Otherwise, the plot is somewhat clunky and underdeveloped.
The romance is sweet but emerges a little late in the story. The story's main tension is between Daisy and her sister, as they both adjust to life in the spotlight in different ways and try to adapt their relationship with each other accordingly.
Overall, "Royals" a fun, light tribute to America's obsession with the crown-wearing folk across the pond that can be appreciated for what it is.
"Royals" contains some mild profanity and vague references to sexuality. Hetero- and homosexual relationships never go beyond kissing. There are some scenes of heavy drinking, shown in a negative light, and mild violence.