The daughter of a Hollywood director juggles her real feelings for a charming English aristocrat and a forced publicity-stunt romance with a movie star.
In Albright’s companion novel to her royals-inspired romance, The Heir and the Spare (2015), white teen Maggie McKendrick is in Scotland for the summer during her cruel father’s latest movie shoot. She has a meet-cute with Preston, a handsome, white Oxford student vacationing at a family estate (readers of the first book will remember he’s Prince Edmund’s best mate), but their blossoming romance takes a back seat to Maggie’s family troubles. Not only does Maggie’s mother finally file for divorce, but her father cuts Maggie off financially for deciding to attend a British fashion institute instead of UCLA. While she’s at design school, Maggie’s egomaniacal father forces her to date his flailing movie’s white it-boy star, Ben, for publicity’s sake, or else he’ll out Ben and leave Maggie’s mother with nothing. If this sounds clichéd, that’s because it is—as is almost everything in this poorly executed romance. The voice is clunky and anachronistic (what 18-to-20-year-olds say "jeez," "crap," "jerk face"?); the British slang laughably false (particularly for posh, titled characters); the substantial themes (physical and emotional abuse, depression) barely explored; and the characterization underdeveloped. Maggie is simply too naïve and immature to be believable as a young woman raised in Hollywood.
It’s telling that the most-uttered word is filler: "um." Skip it. (Romance. 13-17)