Why you should care
Because swoonworthy, bed-hopping monarchs might be the titillating read you're looking for this fall.
It was early 2019 when Casey McQuiston’s queer royal romance, aptly titled Red, White and Royal Blue, became an unexpected New York Times bestseller. In doing so, it made clear that while royal wedding fever may have died down, the thrill of reading a royal romance most definitely endures. But what’s the appeal of fantasizing about a system as colonial and imperialistic as the monarchy?
“We love the idea of a prince falling for someone just like you or me,” with flaws and insecurities, says Melanie Summers, royal romance author and longtime royal watcher. “There’s something about it that makes us feel like anything is possible.” Romance writer Krista Lakes echoes this view: “Romance novels are opportunities to lead the lives we wish we could have, so royal romances are a great way to have that fantasy for a few hours.”
Whether you’re new to the genre or are looking for recent royal romance titles that have flown a little more under the radar, here are five romantic (and, at turns, raunchy) royal reads that’ll have you longing for your own Prince(ess) Charming.
The Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory (2019)
Prompted by a tweet and inspired by Doria Ragland (Meghan Markle’s mom), The Royal Holiday — a transcontinental, royalty-adjacent romance — foregrounds family relationships, as well as the perks and pitfalls of dating as a 50-something. On a trip to England with her daughter Maddie (protagonist of Guillory’s The Wedding Party), Vivian Forest unexpectedly falls for Malcolm, the Queen’s rather handsome private secretary, over scones and horseback riding. However, it’s during their postholiday romance flurry of postcard exchanging — a callback to earlier pen-to-paper flirtations — that love truly blossoms.
Ledi soon finds herself having “the best and most inappropriate” orgasms of her life with the heir to an African throne.
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (2018)
Told in a distinctive voice smattered with scientific terminology and eggplant emojis, A Princess in Theory (the first in Cole’s “Reluctant Royals” series) takes the African Prince scammer trope and twists it into a lively royal romance. Orphaned and overworked, epidemiology grad student Naledi “Ledi” Smith isn’t impressed when she starts getting a glut of emails from her so-called betrothed, a Prince Thabiso of Thesolo. But Thabiso is real (albeit accidentally masquerading as a commoner called Jamal), and Ledi soon finds herself having “the best and most inappropriate” orgasms of her life with the heir to an African throne.
American Royals By Katharine McGee (2019)
What if America won the Revolutionary War and offered George Washington the crown? That’s the question posited by McGee in her frothy YA debut, which, unlike many royal romance novels, brings the monarchy to America. Marked by well-paced prose and a soap opera quality that will have you invested way past bedtime, American Royals deftly teases out a veritable tangle of interconnected dating plotlines — including engagements of convenience and intrafamily love triangles — told from the perspective of the young women at the midst of the chaos: Beatrice, Sam, Nina and Daphne. And although the cliffhanger ending feels a little frustrating, it certainly sets up the story for McGee’s untitled forthcoming sequel.
An American Cinderella By Krista Lakes (2018)
“I was definitely inspired by the then upcoming royal wedding,” Lakes says of her modern-day rewrite of Disney classic Cinderella, played out in the high-power political sphere of Washington, D.C. Aria’s just been fired from her job as a senator’s assistant thanks to her meddling stepmom, when she’s inadvertently tackled at the Washington Monument by hunky rugby player Henry. Unsurprisingly, shenanigans ensue as Aria and Henry — our requisite Prince Charming from the fictitious, somewhat on-the-nose named nation of “Paradisa” — fall in love, while trying to enact revenge on her wicked stepmother.
The Royal Treatment By Melanie Summers (2017)
An ill-thought-through PR move from playboy Prince Arthur lands acid-tongued royal critic and blogger Tessa at the fictional Avonian palace for two months. But while both have individual — and opposing — agendas, it’s not long before they’re seeing eye-to-eye … on some things at least. Sparkling and sarcastic from the off (with chapter subtitles like “Good Men, Payphones & Other Things That No Longer Exist”), The Royal Treatment is also immensely relatable. After all, “we’ve all felt like we’re out of place, outclassed and outmatched in one situation or another,” says Summers.
More Royal Reads
- Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (2019): Queer transcontinental romance between the son of an American president and a British prince.
- The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (2015): Inspired by Kate Middleton and Prince William, an American commoner deals with the pressures of dating a British royal.
- A Royal Scandal by Marquita Valentine (2017): Exiled prince marries his American best friend but their pretend love affair quickly becomes all too real.
- Royals by Rachel Hawkins (2018): In the run-up to her sister’s wedding to the heir to the throne, Daisy is thrust into a summer of royal drama in Scotland.