I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Royal Blood #1
Published by Random House Children's Books on March 7, 2023
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / General, Young Adult Fiction / Family / General
Format: ARC, eBook
Buy on: Amazon CA // Amazon US // Author Direct // Barnes & Noble // The Broken Binding
An American girl becomes the British Monarchy’s greatest nightmare in this thrilling new series where royal scandals just got deadlier.
As the King of England’s illegitimate daughter, 17-year-old Evan Bright knows a thing or two about keeping secrets.
But when she’s forced to spend the summer in London with her father and the royal family, who aren’t exactly thrilled she exists, her identity is mysteriously revealed, and suddenly the world is dying to know every juicy lie the press prints about her.
After a fun night turns deadly and Evan becomes the primary suspect in a murder investigation, the escalating rumors and fallout threaten to tear her life apart. As she fights to uncover the truth about what happened, she discovers royal secrets that are even more scandalous than she imagined – secrets that could change the monarchy forever.
And her own may be next.
Content Warning: attempted sexual assault, use of date rape drugs, death, mental health issues
I’m a sucker for thrillers and if it’s a YA thriller, then all the better. Don’t ask me why I like YA so much better than adult books, but I do. I mean, yes, I read adult books, but I have a strong preference for YA over adult books. So when I saw this come up as one of the blog tours, I knew I had to sign up. Now if you know me, you know that I’m not usually a fan of anything that involves royalty, but the description of the book sounded so good, I had to read it. I’m so glad I did.
I’m going to be honest, there’s a ton of characters in this book and it can be tough to get a feel for all of them – especially since we don’t see a lot of all of them. So if I missed a character, don’t worry, it wasn’t because I did it on purpose. Also – the royal family in this book is entirely fictional, so don’t be offended at the thought of the Royal Family being the subject of a fiction book. This isn’t the real Royal Family at all.
Our main character, Evangeline – who prefers to be called Evan, except by her Mom, who calls her Evie – is the illegitimate daughter of the King of England. When we meet her, she’s getting herself into a spot of trouble. She’s rebellious, doesn’t think much of her father, and loves her mother with everything in her soul. But you’ll come to find that she isn’t as hard-nosed about her father as she appears at first. I love her character because she just doesn’t give a crap – she’s more than willing to tell you like it is and won’t pull punches, even if she’s speaking of her father, the King of England or other members of the Royal Family.
Jenkins is the personal assistant/secretary to the King and is the one who has dealt with Evan for the majority of her life since she was 11 years old. He loves Evan dearly and she adores him as well – he’s the closest thing she’s had to a father up until the events that unfold in this book. I love Jenkins because he’s not afraid to push the envelope a little bit.
Tibby is hilarious. She has a super long name that I’m sincerely too lazy to look up and then type out, but I do remember her first name is actually Tabitha, but everyone calls her Tibby. Tibby is helping keep Evan on schedule and quite frankly becomes one of Evan’s greatest allies. She tries to protect Evan as much as possible. I like her because she also doesn’t care who she’s talking about when it’s just her and Evan and maybe Kit.
Kit is the Queen Consort’s nephew and has a huge thing for Evan, which isn’t really all that hidden once you get to know him. It isn’t like he tries to hide it. And he doesn’t care that Evan is illegitimate… he’s there for her no matter what. Even if she tries to push him away, he won’t leave her… I love him for that.
Ben is Evan’s cousin, the King’s brother’s son, and he’s third in line for the throne. He seems like such a great guy to begin with, but isn’t that how it is with all of them? You’ll have to read the book to find out why I say that, but trust me when I say I loved him at first but then grew to despise him.
Son of a media mogul, Jasper is a piece of work, let me tell you. He uses his charm and influence to worm his way into Evan’s life and then rips it apart. I won’t give you details obviously, but he’s not a nice guy. I really didn’t like him to begin with but after what he pulls, I disliked him even more.
Alexander is the King of England and Evan’s father. He’s a bit startled for her to show up in Windsor Castle, but he quickly sets to making sure that she’s treated like she’s his daughter. There’s more to his relationship with her, and her mother, than meets the eye and if you don’t like him at first, give it time. You will eventually.
The Queen Consort – she’s a witch with a b and I can’t stand her. She can’t get over the idea that her husband was unfaithful to her, but honestly, the way she behaves, I can understand why he would be. Trust me, you probably won’t like her – unless you’re just like her.
Princess Mary, Maisie to her friends and family, is the legitimate daughter of Alexander and Helene. Frostier than the North Pole to Evan at first, you’ll find she’ll eventually come around. Again, I won’t tell you why she comes around or how she does, but she does. Maisie is one of those characters that I kind of like and kind of don’t like.
The atmosphere for this book is hard to describe. You’ve got various different scenes, all of which bring about different feelings and emotions. But all of the scenes work in the manner in which they’re designed to. Whether the scene is Windsor Castle, some concert at a music venue, or the curb in front of an ice cream shop, the scene is perfect for whatever is happening.
Aimee Carter has a brilliant writing style. Her writing is easy to read, paces the book in a manner that both makes sense and that works – not too fast, not too slow. She isn’t a flowery prose type of writer and I like that – I’ve seen thrillers (YA and adult alike) where the authors are just being so flowery and descriptive and it just makes me put the book down. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more books by Aimee Carter.
Obviously there has to be a death if it’s a thriller, even if it is a YA thriller. After all, what’s the point of a thriller if at least one person doesn’t die. But when you add in a member of the Royal Family (even if that member isn’t considered a member by everyone) and a whole lot of “what is going on here?” to the plot, it becomes even better. This was a unique plotline for a YA thriller and I absolutely am here for it. If you want something a bit different from the norm, I suggest this book.
It’s a thriller so there’s tons of intrigue. If you aren’t asking what’s going to happen next, you’re either not into thrillers, not into YA, or you’re not reading the same book I was. Or the story/plot/writing style aren’t for you (because that is a thing, no judgement here). This book had me wanting to know more, wanting to know what was going to happen next. That’s a sure sign of a good thriller.
In this book, things progress in an order that makes sense, but also gives you glimpses into the past to help you better understand the characters and what they’re thinking/doing in the present. In some cases, you have no idea why someone does something, but the story doesn’t generally need it to continue on – it’d be more for the reader’s curiosity than anything.
This book ends in a way that suggests at least one sequel will be forthcoming. There are some things that happen in the last chapter that strongly point to there being more to the story – but the ending is satisfying in and of itself because the main plot of this book was fulfilled. We know who died, we know what happened, and we have the plot’s questions answered. The question is, how much better will book 2 be (if there is one)?
If you’re a fan of thrillers, YA, or YA thrillers, I really recommend this book. If you like books with Royal Family drama, I also recommend this book, because there’s plenty of that in here. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.