Book Review: Her Royal Highness

her royal highnessHer Royal Highness
by Rachel Hawkins
Young Adult/Romance/LGBT
274 pages
Published May 2019

This is the sequel to Royals, which I reviewed a little while back. At the time, I wasn’t terribly enthused by Princess Flora, and that actually stuck through this book. I do, however, really like Millie. And I LOVE Rachel Hawkins. This woman writes sweet, fluffy romances that you know will have a happy ending, and makes them a joy to read. To see that approach with LGBT representation – lesbian and bisexual, in this specific case – is fantastic. Give us more! Hawkins still has several characters she could write stories about in this world, including the most eligible bachelor, Prince Sebastian. (Flora’s brother.) She could also write a prequel about the other Prince, since the first book was the romance between the Prince Alex’s fiancée’s sister and one of Sebastian’s best friends. Prince Alex and his fiancée were already a thing when the series opened. Daisy and Miles, the couple from the first book, do make an appearance in this one as well, as do Seb and the rest of the “Royal Wreckers.” (His posse of noble scoundrels.)

I liked that Millie explicitly likes both “lads and lasses, in the general sense” in the book; it’s not just implied. Far too often we’re just left to wonder, when a character dated or was married to one gender, but is shown loving a different gender, whether it’s because they discovered the new gender is their actual preference, or because they are bi/pan. Plenty of homosexuals were married to an opposite-gender partner before coming out. So it’s really nice to see explicitly bisexual rep!

I may have liked the side characters more than I liked Princess Flora. Lady Sakshi Worthington, especially, was great, and I may have been cheering more for her romance than for Millie and Flora!

My dislike of Flora aside, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, fun read, and Hawkins had better get working on the next story. I NEED Seb’s book!

From the cover of Her Royal Highness:

She’s her friend.
She’s her enemy.
She’s her . . . crush?

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. Heartbroken and ready for a change of pace, Millie decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie is thrilled when she is accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling Highlands of Scotland.

The only problem: Millie’s roommate, Flora, is a total princess.

She’s also the actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can’t stand each other, but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Princess Flora could  be a new chapter in her love life, but Millie knows the chances of happily-ever-after are slim. After all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?

Advertisements

Book Review: Red, White, and Royal Blue

red white & royal blueRed, White, and Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston
M/M Romance (New Adult)
421 pages
Published May 2019

I have been looking forward to this book for several months, and it arrived just in time for Pride, and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT. It is very much an adult romance, complete with sex scenes. They are not the focus of the story, but they’re definitely not skimped on, either!

Red, White, and Royal Blue takes the bisexual son of the (female!) US President and pits him against the closeted (at order of his grandmother) gay youngest prince of England. After they make a scene at an international event (oh, enemies-to-lovers trope, how I love thee!) the two boys are ordered to make nice, and make it look like their scene was just friendly rough-housing that got out of hand. As typical for enemies-to-lovers, once they’re forced to spend time together, they each start to realize the other isn’t all that bad.

I loved so much about this book. I loved Alex and Henry. I loved the side characters. I loved the formatting when the author includes email and text chains between characters. I loved that the boys start quoting real historical queer letters to each other.

I mean, with sentences like “Henry lets Alex take him apart with painstaking patience and precision, moans the name of God so many times that the room feels consecrated.” How do you NOT fall in love with this book? Just – wow.

I could totally see the author writing stories for the rest of “The Trio” – the president and vice president’s kids/grandkids (Alex’s sister, June, and their best friend, Nora.) But this book stands just fine completely on its own.

This book ranks right up there with The Priory of the Orange Tree, and that’s one of my new all-time favorites. So yeah. Absolutely fantastic romance.

From the cover of Red, White, and Royal Blue:

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius – his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Friday 56 – Her Royal Highness

her royal highnessThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

This week’s quote is from Her Royal Highness, the sequel to Royals, by Rachel Hawkins. It’s a F/F Young Adult romance with lesbian and bisexual rep.

Percy shakes his head before snatching a tea cake from Sakshi’s plate. “No worries on that front,” he says before demolishing the cake in one bite. “The whole point of sending the royal kids here is so they’re forced to live like normal students. No special privileges, no kid gloves. If they wouldn’t expel you for calling me Veruca Salt, they can’t do it because you said it to her. That’s the deal.”

Speak of the devil – at that moment, Flora comes in the room, flanked by two other girls, both of whom have hair just as shiny as hers, but aren’t nearly as pretty. They’re both in uniforms, too, but Flora’s still decked out in that fancy sweater and designer jeans.

Her eyes briefly land on me before flicking away again, and I’m not sure if that’s because she’s pissed or because I haven’t really registered to her yet.

 

Graphic Novel Review: Bingo Love

bingo loveBingo Love
Graphic Novel/LGBT/Romance
Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge and Joy San
92 pages
Published 2017

Another F/F romance (I have a lot of them this month!), Bingo Love tells the story of Hazel and Mari, two girls who met at a bingo game in the 60s, fell in love, and were forced apart by their families. I don’t tend to review graphic novels on this blog; but for this one, and for Pride Month, I’ll make an exception.

I SOBBED at the end of this beautiful little book. Mari and Hazel love each other SO. MUCH. And what they go through is heartbreaking. When they meet in the 60s, loving the same gender is not very accepted, so when they’re caught kissing, they’re separated and forced to marry men. Hazel’s marriage, at least, is an amiable one. The book doesn’t get into details on Mari’s marriage, only that she divorced him.

The book is also very intersectional! Both black women, one bisexual, both girls at the beginning and grandmothers at the end, with large families. Hazel is gorgeously curvy with naturally kinky hair, Mari willowy and tall.

I think the problem with reviewing graphic novels is that they’re so short it’s hard to say much without giving away plot! But if you’re looking for a very easy read for Pride, this graphic novel is definitely a good place to start. Bring tissues.

From the cover of Bingo Love:

Bingo Love is a story of a same-sex romance that spans over 60 years. A chance meeting at church bingo in 1963 brings Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray together. Through their formative years, these two women develop feelings for each other and finally profess their love for one another.

Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid 60’s, Hazel and Mari are reunited again at a bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.

Library Loot Wednesday

So EVERYTHING I had on hold came in this week. (Okay. Maybe not everything. Like half of my request list.) So I’ve checked out EIGHT books. The hazards of putting holds on books with long wait lists….

For Pride Month I requested A Queer History of the United States, Gender Outlaw – on men, women, and the rest of us, Naamah – a novel, and Red White & Royal Blue. (The latter of which I’m SUPER excited about.)

The other four are all fairly new releases I’ve had holds on for a while: Pride, Prejudice, and other Flavors, We Hunt the Flame, The Candle and the Flame, and There’s Something About Sweetie, the sequel to When Dimple Met Rishi.

 

TTT – Top Ten Upcoming LGBT+ Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is your top ten unpopular bookish opinions, but I could only come up with two. Since it’s still Pride Month, and the next couple weeks are on “second half of 2019 releases/summer TBR list” I’m going to do the ten upcoming LGBTQIA+ releases I’m looking forward to instead! (The downside to writing this post is that I discovered several LGBTQIA+ releases from the FIRST half of 2019 that are now on my TBR list. Whoops.) If you’re looking for unpopular bookish opinions, though, Artsy Reader Girl will have a linky with everyone participating this week. On to my list!

all of us with wingsAll of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (June 18) – an #ownvoices YA fantasy with a bisexual Mexican/American MC.

technically you started itTechnically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson (June 25) – this YA romance has a demisexual main character (YAY!) and a bisexual love interest.

destroy all monstersDestroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller (July 2) – an adult magical realism tale, dealing with heavy topics like child molestation and PTSD. I got to meet Sam Miller at the Baltimore Book Fest last year, and he’s awesome. (Though I still haven’t managed to read Blackfish City – oops.)

shatter the skyShatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (July 30) – a YA fantasy with dragons and rebellion. Sign me up.

of ice and shadowsOf Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst (August 13) – the sequel to Inkmistress and Of Fire and Stars.

criers warCrier’s War by Nina Varela (October 1) – debut F/F fantasy between a human girl and a Made one. (They appear to be automatons made originally to be playthings before they rebelled?) Looks awesome.

orpheus girlOrpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (October 8) – another debut, this one re-imagining the Orpheus story as an F/F love story in Texas. I’m hearing conflicting reports about it though, so I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up or not.

never tilting worldThe Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco (October 15) – billed as Frozen meets Mad Max, this fantasy is the next book from the author of The Bone Witch Trilogy, which I loved.

tarnished are the starsTarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor (October 15) – queer sci-fi fantasy about a girl with a clockwork heart.

gideon the ninthGideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (September 10) – this book had me at lesbian necromancers. Lady necromancers are kind of my THING. Soooo yeah. A lady necromancer and her reluctant swordswoman? Yeah I need this book YESTERDAY. (And that cover. Hot damn.)