Published by Timeout LLC on April 4th 2016
Genres: Modern Fairytale, New Adult
From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.
These Royals will ruin you…
Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.
Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.
Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.
He might be right.
Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.
Whoa… whoa, what? I’m going to be in the minority when it comes to this book? I guess that’s the case. This is not a glowing 5 star review. Having said that, I’m going to preface this review with this: I did NOT hate this book. I’m not going to bash it and I already started the sequel. So in that respect this book is already relatively successful in my book.
If I had to describe this book somehow, I’d say it’s a not particularly well written story about a rags to riches heroine, Ella Harper (later O’Halloran) who finds herself whisked from a life of poverty and stripping at seventeen, to a life of privilege. This is the well trodden cliché of a girl that all of a sudden learns she’s heiress to a multi-million dollar empire because she’s the long lost daughter of some obscenely rich and recently deceased father. Said father’s best friend takes her in as her legal guardian and she finds herself living in Chez Royal (their last name is actually Royal which makes for an onslaught of cringey puns).
Then we have the also well ridden trope of the fish out of water girl with a difficult upbringing that infiltrates the private school full of assholes.
We have the cliché of the bully mean girls (just like… well, Mean Girls) and the bully rich douchey guy, in this case Reed Royal, that runs the school and makes her life miserable. But they’re destined to be together so he doesn’t really ever do anything unforgivable. And she can’t stay away because he’s so hot.
I’m not going to lie, the way these books have been hyped I did not expected the best literature around, not at all, but I did expect something so trashy and corny it was actually good. Basically, all I wanted was something crackalicious and addictive that I just couldn’t put down. And maybe if I’d read this in my teens or without much reading experience on my back, that would have been my reaction. But as is, it was just… okay? I mean, it was alright. I kept wanting to be blown away and sadly that never really happened. In fact, scenes that were supposed to be climactic always left a bit of an unsatisfactory taste in my mouth.
The following two paragraphs are spoilers. Please skip to the very last three paragraphs if you don’t want to be spoiled!!
The erotic climax between Reed and Ella, when she gets pricked with Molly and is under the influence was icky to say the least. Not just because Ella is only seventeen, but because the authors’ effort to make it seem like Ella really didn’t believe Reed had taken advantage of the situation, that’s not the way it came across. I hate it when authors don’t own up to their risqué scenes. You can’t have it both ways. You’re either under the influence of drugs, and therefore vulnerable enough that sex of any kind is plain wrong, or she’s just not actually high, making the whole scene sort of pointless. Ella was still very much high when Reed fingered and touched her, in fact that was the whole sordid point of his “ministrations”, easing her Ecstasy induced need. So what was it? Was she high or wasn’t she? I don’t care if later on she was all “don’t worry, you didn’t really take advantage of me”. It squicked me out and I’m usually all for the dark stuff. It seemed to be eroticized but that’s not the effect it had on me.
Spoiler about the infamous cliffhanger at the end:
It felt so left field and tacked on. And the fact that Ella is so far up Reed’s rectum that she can’t see the forest for the trees made my original appreciation of her fall a few notches. She just got told she is heiress to O’Halloran, she has everything she needs and wants to be able to finish her education and go to college and become anything she wants to be and she’s going to run away because of Reed? Reed, who never made her any promises? Maybe if their relationship had been a little more developed, this would make sense, but I just didn’t buy Ella’s huge implosion over a dude like Reed who so obviously isn’t worth running away for. I just never got what she saw in him.
END SPOILERS. You are safe now.
Oh boy, this is becoming a bit ranty. Once again, I did not hate this book but if I’m going to be honest, I’m going to be critical of its flaws. Do we really need five Royals? Six including the dad? I felt like too many secondary characters detracted from Ella and Reed’s time in the spotlight.
I did find this book intriguing enough to continue to the end and read Broken Prince. I call BS on this book being YA. Yes, they are still technically in high school but the subject matter is very much adult. There’s a lot of substance abuse and sexual situations going on here. I think NA is a more appropriate tag.
I’m already a good way into Broken Prince and I must say I like the writing a lot better already. It’s Reed’s POV and it’s promising so far. I’m crossing my fingers that by the end of this trilogy I’m going to be a superfan! And please remember I’m in the minority being so critical about this first installment. Everybody on my friend list seems to have LOVED this book which means anyone intrigued enough by the premise is probably going to love it too.
It’s Royal month at the Sisterhood of Traveling Book Boyfriends so stay tuned for my review of all three books, coming October.