Book review · contemporary

Reviews: Two F/F Romances

Because apparently, lately I review books two at a time.

41734205Looking back, there are many things I didn’t love about Her Royal Highness, but the book was entertaining enough to make me forget about that for most of its length, so does it really matter? Sometimes all you need is a quick read that won’t require that much of your attention and I’m glad that there are traditionally published queer YA books that fit this requirement.

Her Royal Highness is an f/f royal romance set in Scotland with an American main character. One of the first things that stood out in a bad way, to me, is how much this is specifically an American’s wish fulfillment story. I am not Scottish, so I might be wrong about this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this were significantly annoying to read if one were; I have read books in which my own country was on the end of an American main character’s weird obsession-borderline-fetish and it’s the worst kind of unintentionally unsettling. I have a lot of feelings about Americans and their portrayals/interpretations of other cultures (which gets listened to and exported over everyone else’s, even said culture’s) and they’re definitely not wholly this book’s fault, so I’m not going to get into this, but it’s still relevant because it’s the only thing that the book never managed to make me forget (it’s far more difficult to ignore in a contemporary book than in the fake fantasy versions).

Maybe this wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if everything about this book hadn’t been reliant on it being wish-fulfillment, one that was clearly not written for a non-American audience. The main character Millie is as devoid of a personality as any decent audience surrogate would be, which is not inherently negative – sapphics get to have cheesy self-insert romance like everyone else, too – but if you’re not the target audience (so you’re gay but not American), it stands out. This girl’s supposedly favorite hobby is geology. I think about rocks more than she does and I don’t even like them, and the book also manages to gets its geology facts wrong! Wonderful.

To get through the other main thing that didn’t work: the ending. I love every romance book whose ending isn’t the step-by-step typical romance ending featuring a breakup, but the thing is, I can love one that does that as well; reading romance means signing up for a certain degree of clichés and that’s perfectly fine. However, I don’t think this book managed to pull it off in a believable way and the ending felt both rushed and kind of forced.

Now, onto the things I liked. This was an adorable, fun read that got the instant-dislike to love dynamic just right, and it was just as dramatic (it’s alternate reality with royals. It can’t not be dramatic.) as it needed to be to be fun while not becoming cartoonish. I also think it captured the feeling of being a teenager and relationships being confusing really well (are we a thing? are we not?) and I really appreciated what was done with the Jude subplot. Teenagers are messy and I’m glad we let queer girls be messy as well without anyone turning into the caricature of a villainous ex.
And about the side characters as a whole and the love interest… are all the characters other than Millie well-developed? No. Did they need to be? Also no, so I guess we’re fine.

Overall, if alternate reality contemporary royal romance is your thing, this is really good and you should probably ignore me, as it’s exactly the easy, fun read it promises to be. If not, you might enjoy it anyway! In the end, I did.

My rating: ★★★¼

23294595Treasure is a sweet f/f romance following two young Black women who meet at a strip club.
Alexis is an 18-year-old college student trying to make sense of her life after a really rough year; she has ADHD and is a lesbian, which her family – especially her father – doesn’t really approve of.
Trisha, aka Treasure, is 20 years old, a college student and a stripper, and finds herself in the same classes Alexis attends. Unlike Alexis, she is not from a rich family.

I loved Treasure. It’s a cute, quick read in which the characters have chemistry, and there are not that many books around with positive portrayals of sex workers – it was great that in the end the main conflict didn’t completely revolve around Trisha’s job, too, and Alexis wasn’t close-minded about it.
While for the most part I didn’t love the writing, I thought the sex scenes were really well-written, and I liked how the relationship developed; that’s what matters.
Also, as usual: novellas really are the best format for romance.

I really liked Alexis’ character arc. She is a suicide attempt survivor, and in this story, we see her go from someone who doesn’t really know what she wants and just goes along with what would please her overachieving, perfectionist parents, to a young woman who can stand up for herself.

This isn’t a full five stars for me because of a few minor things, the main one being the fact that, while I loved Trisha, it stands out when in a dual PoV story one character has a fully developed arc and the other doesn’t, not as much. Also, there were multiple occurrences of unintentionally aro/acephobic lines and I could have done without those.

My rating: ★★★★½

Have you read or want to read any of these?

9 thoughts on “Reviews: Two F/F Romances

  1. Hmm I never considered that about Her Royal Highness and my family is actually from Scotland. I can see what you mean though. I think I was just too caught up in the characters in that one to think about how the setting was being portrayed. Treasure has been on my TBR for a while, I need to get to it for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was mostly based on me thinking “if this had been about Italy, I would have hated it”, and the book didn’t quite manage to distract me from that.
      Anyway, I’m glad you didn’t feel this way, it was an enjoyable read for me apart from this aspect too.
      And I hope you end up liking Treasure!


  2. Ooo, I haven’t heard of Treasure before – it sounds really interesting!

    I know exactly what you mean about Her Royal Highness. I love what you said about there being books with queer characters and romances that are just there to be fun books – not every book has to ‘say something’ just because it’s LGBT+ – but I must admit I’ve been putting off reading this one because I feel like there’s been a real growth in the fetishisation of royalty lately.

    I’ve seen SO MANY royal books – American Royals is another one I’ve seen that particularly grates on me, because it’s an alternate history of the US that’s still put white people in charge over the indigenous population – and while I’m used to seeing royalty in fantasy, and even sci-fi, I don’t enjoy seeing them as much in contemporary settings. There’s just so much privilege, and I’m sure most books address that and I’m sure being in the public eye all the time even with all that privilege is awful, but I’m kind of bored of reading about rich people all the time? Where are my rom-coms for the people who are living on beans on toast because they can’t afford anything else?

    For me, I’ve seen an awful lot of French-inspired books lately – particularly French-inspired fantasy – and all of the ones I’ve seen have been written by American authors and it kind of makes me cringe? That sounds AWFUL because obviously not all American authors are the same, and so many of them write beautifully, but I recently tried to read Serpent & Dove, which is French-inspired fantasy, and had to put it down when I saw two characters called Coco and Babette in the first three pages. Were they also wearing berets, smoking and carrying baguettes?

    Anyway, sorry for that rant! What I meant to say is I completely get what you mean about it being a wish fulfilment story. Scotland, in particular, is so romanticised at the moment, especially with the popularity of shows like Outlander. And Scotland is beautiful! But I imagine that book would probably annoy me if I was Scottish, too.

    Then again, I could just be a grump. Great reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, don’t worry about the rant. I agree with everything you said and I didn’t write a rant in the review just because it’s not my culture that was getting this treatment (and I don’t feel comfortable talking about what’s stereotypical and not about someone else’s culture), but if it had been about Italy, I absolutely would have.

      I don’t think contemporary royal romances are my thing either. I don’t care that much about rich people drama, but apparently it’s the trend of the moment. (I find the premise of American Royals inherently flawed as well, but Katherine McGee had already written another book full of racist and homophobic implications and tropes, so I’m not surprised in the slightest?)

      “Were they also wearing berets, smoking and carrying baguettes?”

      This made me laugh and also I’m so glad that Italy is not a trendy country right now in American books. I love many aspects of my country, but reading the tourist-like stereotyped version of what people think is your life is so annoying, and what is especially annoying is that it’s more likely to get translated in my country than Italian books are to be published, especially in the YA age range.
      And thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ew, sounds like Katherine McGee is definitely an author I’ll be staying away from.

        I love Italy, it’s genuinely one of my favourite countries in the world and I’ve been lucky enough to visit Rome, Florence and Bologna and loved them all, but I don’t often gravitate towards books set there (although I do love Italian-inspired fantasy like The Lies of Locke Lamora and The Brilliant Death) because I don’t think anyone’s going to capture it how I imagine it. I’d definitely much rather read work by Italian authors instead!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’d love to read Italian authors too. Sadly, if one isn’t interested in adult contemporary fiction (I am not), what we have is very little and what I saw of it isn’t that great? It’s extremely white and straight. If it weren’t like that, after all, I wouldn’t have to be this fluent in English.

          Liked by 1 person

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