The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Before I read the prequel to The Heir Affair (The Royal We), I would have said very firmly and definitively that I do not read romance novels. I read about The Royal We for YEARS on Go Fug Yourself, the authors’ blog, before I finally picked it up, because I was convinced that I am Not A Romance Reader. Well. What a good reminder that it’s rarely good to write off an entire category of things based on your reaction to infrequent/one/zero exposure to that category!

In fact, I’d say that these two novels have made me curious about the romance genre in general, and have given me the courage to dabble in more romance novels, should I find one that sounds promising. 

Another brief disclaimer: I wouldn’t say I care about the royals at all. I mean, I find history of the British monarchy pretty fascinating. And obviously I watch The Crown. And sure, I’ll read an article about what pointed statements the current Queen Elizabeth is making with her choice of jewelry. Okay, okay, and yes, I will admire and pine for hair like Duchess Kate all my life. But beyond that, I don’t really follow any of the royal news or have any feelings about royalty or know many royals outside of Kate and Will and Harry and Meghan, and, of course, Queen Elizabeth herself.

And yet despite my general disinterest, I ATE THIS STUFF UP. True, The Royal We and The Heir Affair are about an invented branch of the English crown. (And I did go read about how Heather and Jessica created a fictional dynasty – logistically fascinating.) But it’s kind of fun to get a fictional peek behind the curtain of the monarchy, at what shenanigans ensue both before and behind the public eye. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t write these books off just because they center both romance and royalty. They are EXCELLENT books, period. 

Well, not much reason to keep reading beyond that statement, is there? But just in case you want more all-caps hype about this book, I’ve provided some below.

Photo of a kindle version of The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

This is not a review of The Royal We, because I read it a couple of years ago. But I wholeheartedly recommend The Royal We, and you really need to read it prior to reading its follow-up. 

Hmm. I seem to have worked myself into a corner of sorts, because I want you to read the books in order so I don’t want to give any spoilers. Let’s see how I do.

Mini plot summary: [Spoiler right out of the gate] Nick and Bex are married and must navigate life as the Duke and Duchess of Clarence while also reeling from the scandal that has rocked their relationship and their reputations. In the meantime, Bex discovers a family secret that has uncanny similarities to the uncomfortable situation she and Nick and Freddie find themselves in. 

What I enjoyed about this novel: First of all, the writing in both books is excellent. If you are a regular reader of Go Fug Yourself, you must already know that Heather and Jessica are good writers. They can craft compelling prose, they are fonts of arcane and cultural knowledge, they are hilarious. I have no idea how they have mastered writing as a team, but there is no distinction between one voice and another. At least, not that I have ever been able to tell. This all translates extremely well to their books. Seriously – they are SO funny. The repartee between the characters is delightful and genuine – nothing seems forced to get the punchline. Their writing on their blog doesn’t often (although not never) explore much of an emotional, The Heir Affair has so much emotional heft. Each character feels vivid and whole, and their emotional journeys are heartfelt and real. Whenever Bex suffered an emotional gut punch, I felt it – and found myself crying for her on multiple occasions. 

The plot in this book – as with that in The Royal We – is NOT as straightforward as it may seem. While they laid the groundwork for each little twist (nothing felt unrealistic or unearned), I was definitely surprised on more than one occasion. And the storyline is so interesting and the stakes are so high, I could not put it down. I read this in two days flat and immediately wished I could back and read both books again for the first time. 

All the supporting characters I came to know and love (or hate) in The Royal We return in The Heir Affair. Gaz is a particular favorite, and he gets mixed up in a fictional version of the Great British Bake Off which I loved (in part because I adore that show as well).

What I didn’t enjoy about this book: That it didn’t go on longer? That there’s no sequel to immediately consume? Okay, here’s a real – but very tiny and petty – complaint. Sometimes Bex – who is from Iowa – would use British slang that brought me out of the book. I mean, it makes sense! She’s lived in London since college! She would of course pick up and use the local vernacular! But it still caught me off guard every time. I wish I had a specific example. It’s not just using terms like “posh” that seem more British than American. It’s more like using phrases or expressions that are uniquely British – like if she were to say, “I’m going to pop off to the loo now.” I just don’t 100% buy that a home-grown Iowan would say that, even if she had been living in London for fifty years. I could be wrong! Like I said, this is a VERY PICKY thing to point out! Because there is nothing unenjoyable about this book!

Should you read this book? Oh my goodness, YES. It is top quality, first-class fiction. Plus, it has NOTHING TO DO with what’s going on in the world today, so it offers immersive escapism at its very best. 

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