I was over the freaking moon when I was approved to review an advance copy of The Heir Affair, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s sequel to The Royal We. The Royal We is one of my very favorite books. When I was sick as a dog during my final pregnancy, I would read it until I reached the end and then flip back to the first page and start again. Though The Royal We felt complete, the door was left open for a sequel if the authors decided to revisit the characters. Did Clive follow through with his threat? If so, how on Earth does the Firm try to reel that back in now that Nick and Bex are absolutely legally wed? What do we do about Freddie?
The problem with revisiting the characters is that TRW was absolutely real people fan fiction, and the Cambridge shine has dimmed somewhat in the last several years. Also, if you have the fictional Prince of Wales marrying an American in the first book, then what do you do about the real life spare doing it? The logical answer is: abandon the fan fiction bit and go your own way.
The Heir Affair picks up about six weeks after the wedding. (Yes, the Westminster Abbey wedding happens.) Clive did his thing and Nick and Bex are hiding out rather than dealing with the publicity nightmare it caused. (The big, fancy reception was cancelled.) This interlude has come to an end, and the couple are tasked with repairing the damage they’ve done with the public and with their friends. Nick, Bex, and Freddie have to find a way to make peace with one another; everyone has hurt everyone else and negotiating that while smiling for the cameras takes its toll on the group.
The book tackles too much as we follow Bex trying to get settled into her new life on the inside. Her already-thin support system seems to disappear entirely. Cilla and Gaz pull away. Lacey finds a place for herself outside The Ivy League. Things with Freddie are fraught as he grows beyond his Party Prince persona, and starts to look like he might settle down. Eleanor suffers a health scare which opens the door to Bex building the relationship they hadn’t established before while Richard takes being regent for a spin. Contrary to the ending of TRW, Nick and Bex aren’t all that unbreakable yet; Nick still has a tendency to run and hide when the going gets a bit rough, once again leaving Bex to cope with the strain of life inside. All the while, Bex begins to realize that producing an heir may not be as simple as she expected. (The “heir” part of the title is a bit scattered: there is definitely more than plot thread that could be covered by it.)
With all this going on, the story still isn’t done: a plot thread sort of explodes at the end of the book. And that’s when I lost it. The sequel went from “okay” to “can I forget that I ever read any of this?”
This was a tough review to write. I thought perhaps that I just came to the book with too much excitement, and sat with my feelings on it for a few months to see if they changed. But in revisiting the book, I realized that I just didn’t love this book as much as I loved the first.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in order to facilitate this review.