Read a full summary of American Royals, book #1 of Katharine McGee’s new series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in American Royals, then you are in the right place!
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in American Royals?
This story is set in an alternate America that’s a constitutional monarchy of sorts. In this reality, George Washington was the first king instead of the first president, and his ancestors are still ruling in America 250 years later. The line of royalty continued through the oldest son until a recent change in the law. Now the oldest child—whether male or female—inherits the crown.
The current Washington monarch is King George IV, and he and his wife Queen Adelaide have three children: Beatrice and twins Samantha (aka Sam) and Jefferson (aka Jeff). Beatrice is the oldest and is the first to fall under the rule enacted by her grandfather. Thus, she will eventually be the first queen of America.
Beatrice’s parents approach her about selecting a husband, who will rule as the first king consort of America. They want her to make a love match, but they also want her to select from either American nobility or foreign royalty. The two of them put together profiles on the twelve eligible men of whom they approve and ask her to choose from them. They are throwing a ball to which each of these men are invited so Beatrice can try to decide which would be the best match.
Sam and Jeff have taken a gap year after high school and return from their latest trip abroad just in time for the ball. They’ve been in the tabloids for their mischievous exploits once again and are glad the spotlight is on the ball and are only slightly scolded upon their return. Jeff is glad to be back with his best friend Ethan, and Sam is glad to be back with her best friend Nina, a freshman at King’s College.
Nina is nervous about seeing Jeff because the last time they saw each other, they kissed (made out, to be exact). It happened at the twins’ graduation party before they left to travel. Jeff hasn’t called or texted her since. For the record, he had a girlfriend at the time, a beautiful, ambitious type named Daphne.
So Nina will see Jeff for the first time at the ball, and Daphne will be there, too. She’s anxious to for Jeff to be home and hopes to rekindle their relationship. She wants to be royalty. Jeff’s best friend Ethan approaches Daphne at the ball, and apparently the two of them had some sort of clandestine rendezvous of their own that Jeff knows nothing about.
Sam dresses as wildly and acts as carelessly as ever at the ball, stealing away into the coat room to make out with Theodore (aka Teddy), one of the nobles in attendance. She really likes the handsome, charming, sweet guy and is shocked to later find out that the ball was a guise for her sister Beatrice to get acquainted with potential husband candidates. Out of all of the guys, Teddy is the only one Beatrice even remotely liked.
So being the good daughter and royal that Beatrice always is, she asks Teddy out on a date. It’s a group date with her whole family to a play about a member of the Washington royalty from the past. But Beatrice would rather be there with Connor, her bodyguard and the only person she feels is a true friend.
Connor has been with her for over a year now, and he’s only a couple of years older than Beatrice. She has gotten to know him really well and has developed feelings for him. She kisses him the night of the ball, but they’re interrupted. It doesn’t go any further, and they don’t discuss it until they’re alone all night on their way to the Washington family New Year’s Eve celebration in Telluride.
Beatrice came a day later than her family because she had to attend a royal engagement before departing. It begins snowing heavily, and the plane has to land early, a couple of hours away from Telluride. And then the roads are too slick for them to make the drive, so Connor and Beatrice end up holed up in a cabin by themselves that night.
Connor has been very stiff and distant since her “relationship” with Teddy has been underway. So Beatrice is glad they finally have some sustained time alone to talk. She’s also glad they seem to be falling back into their normal banter and casual intimacy. She decides she needs to tell Connor how she feels, so she pours her heart out to him.
The rest of the family is at Telluride, skiing and snowboarding their first day away. Jeff and Nina steal glances and kisses when no one’s looking. Then Daphne shows up, hoping to win Jeff’s heart back. She runs into him on the slopes when Nina isn’t around and then tries to get into the royal family’s exclusive New Year’s Eve party. She only gets in because Ethan is there and vouches for her.
Jeff invites Daphne to join them on the slopes the next day, and she lets him know how she feels during the ski outing. Jeff realizes her feelings are beyond friendship and shuts her down. He explains that he’s in a relationship with someone else.
Even though Connor’s not a noble, he and Beatrice decide to begin a secret relationship. He’s had feelings for her for a long time now, too, and they take advantage of their alone time. The roads are cleared too quickly for their liking, and soon they are forced to join the family in Telluride, where they’re back to their old roles of princess and guard. Teddy is there waiting for Beatrice, and they put up a good show as always.
When everyone returns home, the new relationships continue. Jeff and Nina continue their secret one as do Connor and Beatrice. In the public eye, Beatrice is continuing her relationship with Teddy, about which the media and the American public are going wild.
Sam is miserable about this match and finally gets a moment to talk to Teddy about it. He explains that he had no idea his parents had brought him to the ball that night to meet Beatrice. Otherwise, he never would’ve made out with Sam. He lets something slip about her sister being forced by her parents to date. Sam had no idea. She’s stunned.
The king pulls Beatrice into his office early one morning to break news he’s shared with no one else: He has stage four lung cancer and at most only has a year left to live. He doesn’t want to tell the rest of the family yet; he wants them to enjoy good times together in blissful ignorance for as long as possible. He’s only telling Beatrice because he wants to begin training his successor more extensively now and because he wants her to select a husband soon.
Beatrice is heartbroken about her father’s diagnosis. She feels the pressure of the looming crown and from selecting a noble to marry when she’s in love with someone else. She agrees to after her father pressures her to do so. She tells Connor about her father’s diagnosis but not about his request for her to marry soon. She wants the two of them to continue their secret love affair for as long as possible without him knowing.
Beatrice secretly proposes to Teddy, and he accepts. His acceptance sounds much more like a declaration to a sovereign versus a declaration to his intended. This is not a love match for either of them. His family has wasted away their fortune and needs something like this to revive their finances. And Beatrice and Teddy do like and respect each other. Hopefully they can make a decent marriage out of that.
News of Nina and Jeff’s relationship breaks when a paparazzi photo of the two kissing outside of her dorm surfaces. They thought they were being so careful and are certain someone tipped off the photographer. Either way, their romance is public. The media hounds Nina relentlessly, and the comments about her online are just plain evil. She withdraws from Jeff and Sam, not responding to their texts or calls just to have a little space and some time to think.
Sam eventually goes to Nina’s dorm. Nina is glad to see her at first but is quickly scolded by Sam, and then her friend launches into an explanation of all the problems in her life. This sets Nina off because she feels like her life has been upended and she’s getting no sympathy about it from her best friend. Neither can fully see the other one’s point of view, and a huge fight ensues.
To make matters worse, Sam’s mom requires her to accompany her and Teddy to the vault full of crown jewels to help Teddy pick out Beatrice’s engagement ring. He’ll present it to her at the press conference when they make the public announcement about their engagement. The queen gets called away, and Sam and Teddy are left alone to find the right ring, which is of course an awkward set-up.
Beatrice puts off telling Connor about the engagement until it’s too late. She can’t find him anywhere the morning of the press conference. Connor slips in the back of the room right before the announcement and then slips back out soon after. He leaves before the interview is even over, so Beatrice doesn’t have a chance to speak with him.
The press conference and meet and greet out front goes well, and then Beatrice leaves to find Connor. He asks her to forego royal law and marry for love instead. He proposes. When Beatrice says she can’t, he submits his resignation. He’ll asked to be reassigned immediately.
Since Jeff hasn’t seen or heard from Nina in a couple of weeks, he tracks her down at a frat party. She’s happy to see him despite the attention his presence attracts. She’s ready to resume their relationship.
During her pedicure, Daphne gets a tip that there’s an upcoming ball to celebrate Beatrice’s engagement. Her scheming begins.
Beatrice can’t sleep, so she goes into the kitchen to find something to eat. Sam wanders in and makes mac-n-cheese for both of them. They talk more than they have in a long time, and Beatrice reveals why she’s being forced to choose a husband: their father’s cancer. Sam is shocked about the news.
Sam goes to her dad’s office the next day and has a conversation with him about The Box and the two random letters he answers personally each day. He tells her how she can make a difference with charities, etc., since she’s not the monarch. He also warns her that she might continue to be a lightning rod for criticism because people are afraid to speak ill of the monarch. This is something Sam’s never thought about.
Daphne finally corners Nina so she can speak to her alone. She offers to help if Nina feels any pressure or has any questions since she’s dated Jeff before, too. She helps her choose an outfit for the engagement party. While she’s trying clothes on, Daphne digs in Nina’s purse and looks through her phone.
Nina goes back to pick up her dress after the alterations, but the cashier’s notes say Nina called back later to say she changed her mind. It’s not true, and the dress she loved and thought she’d bought has sold to someone else. Nina can tell the store manager wants to get rid of her. She decides she has to go help Sam for her forgiveness and then her help.
Sam is shocked when Nina shows up saying she has a wardrobe emergency. Sam lets Nina choose from the royal stock of dresses that Nina didn’t even know existed. They catch up as they weed through the dresses to find the perfect one for Nina. Sam finds it suspicious that Daphne helped Nina shop. Ex-girlfriends helping current girlfriends didn’t sound plausible.
Daphne and Ethan dance at the engagement party. She silently reminisces about what happened between them last May at Himari’s birthday party. The ended up sleeping together after Daphne admitted the constant pressure to try to be perfect for the crown. Ethan had asked whether she’d rather be with a commoner like him. In the present, Daphne’s mom pulls her away from Ethan in the middle of the dance so she can be nearby when the royal family enters the room.
Jeff finds Nina as soon as he can after the royal entrance. As they spend the evening together, Nina realizes something she hasn’t admitted to herself until now: She’s in love with Jeff.
Beatrice feels trapped. She has to act happy and accept congratulations over and over for an engagement she doesn’t want. She has to escape the receiving line for a few minutes, and Teddy agrees to accept well wishes on her behalf while she’s gone.
Beatrice runs into Connor during her escape. He tells her he was wrong to resign from his position. If a guard is all he can be to her, then he’s willing to do that because he’s miserable without her. Beatrice says she’s miserable without him, too. She decides then and there to renounce her engagement and be with the man she loves.
Daphne corners Nina in the bathroom, checks the stalls, locks the doors, and admits she’s the one who’s been sabotaging Nina’s relationship with Jeff. She points out all the ways Nina isn’t ready to be married to a royal. Nina has never even thought about marriage as she’s just 18. At first Nina’s hurt by the accusation, but then she points out how pathetic it is that Daphne has been preparing her while life for a royal role instead of for loving Jeff. Daphne promises to wait for just the right moment destroy Jeff and Nina’s relationship.
Jeff comes looking for Nina. She tells him about her conversation with Daphne, and Jeff doesn’t react as she’d hoped. He doubts that Daphne could do the things Nina describes and doesn’t want to talk about future implications of their relationship (like marriage) since they’re so young. They break up.
Beatrice whispers to Sam that her engagement is over because there are people her and Teddy actually care about whom they could be with. Sam asks if she can be the one to break it to Teddy, and Beatrice says that’s fine.
Sam asks Teddy to meet her in the coat room. He’s not sad when she tells him because he’s not in love with Beatrice. He’s thought all along that Beatrice might have feelings for someone else. He and Sam admit their feelings for one another. They promise to figure out how to navigate a relationship together once the dust settles from the broken engagement.
Daphne finds Jeff drinking alone and joins him. She doesn’t want to come on to him too soon after the break-up, so she’s just friendly, understanding, and supportive as they drink together. When she leaves, Ethan grabs her so they can ride home in the same limo. He asks her how everything went, and she spills it all to him, the only person who knows the real her. They end up making out in the limo, and Daphne goes home with him.
Beatrice finds Teddy after the party winds up. She says they’ll need to keep this quiet until she visits with her father. He says he’ll keep acting like her fiancé as long as he needs to. She thanks him for his mild reaction and his kindness.
Beatrice accompanies her dad to his office after all the guests are gone and breaks the news. He’s willing to delay the wedding so she can get to know Teddy better. She tells him who she actually loves. He says she can’t marry a commoner and retain the crown. She says he’s the king and could change the law. He says he won’t. He doesn’t want her to face more criticism than she’s already likely to as the first female monarch, and he wants someone by her side who can help her navigate it all and who will be an asset instead of a hindrance.
The king says Connor would eventually resent her because of all he has to give up for her and the crown. He’s not sure their love—however strong it might be now—could survive her reign. He shares he had a first love before her mother but that they worked on their marriage and developed love later. Beatrice refuses to do this. While they’re still arguing, the king collapses with a coronary embolism.
Daphne awakes the morning after with Ethan and won’t acknowledge there’s anything real between them. Then she sees the alerts about the king on her phone.
Nina talks to her parents about what happened with Jeff. They convince her that her friendship with Sam and even Jeff is of utmost importance right now when they’re hurting about their father, so Nina goes to the hospital. The first thing she sees is Daphne holding Jeff’s hand. Nina turns around and leaves before anyone knows she’s there.
Sam and Jeff sit side-by-side, worrying about their father. Sam realizes how much she’s changed recently and how she suddenly feels closer to her sister than her twin brother, which is crazy to her. She thinks she’s finally growing up.
Daphne leaves Jeff’s side for just a minute to go visit Himari. Since her friend is the only one who knew she slept with Ethan, Daphne admits to her that it happened again. But Himari was never supposed to know. She saw the two of them together that fateful night and confronted Daphne about it. She threatened to tell Jeff if Daphne didn’t.
Daphne came up with a plan to silence her. At the next party they attended together, Daphne slipped a roofie-like drug into Himari’s drink. She took photos of her passed out to use as blackmail. If Himari’s strict parents saw them, she would be in huge trouble. But then Himari didn’t wake up. She slipped into the coma she’s now been in for eight months.
How did American Royals end?
Beatrice and her mom meet with the physician overseeing her father’s care. The blood clot that went to his heart was caused by his cancer. The thrombosis caused some damage, and the cancer is right there doing the same. After her mother leaves, Beatrice asks the doctor if a surprise could’ve caused the thrombosis. The doctor says it couldn’t have, although it could’ve sped up its presentation. Beatrice asks for a few minutes alone with her father.
Her father gives her some sage advice. He tells her to remember it’s her position being honored, not her. He reminds her to stick to her beliefs. And he says he knows she’ll make a fabulous queen. He begins to mention Teddy and Connor but doesn’t get it out before he’s too tired to speak any longer.
Beatrice’s mother comes in and suggests she and her siblings go on a walkabout outside to greet the crowds assembled there. Beatrice asks Teddy to go, too, and Sam glares at her during the walk, confused about why her sister hasn’t announced the end of her engagement yet.
A medical official rushes out on the steps to get the siblings’ attention. Their father has died. Connor is nearby as Beatrice’s guard and is the first to speak to her, his love for her fully evident on his face.
The American flag nearby is lowered to half staff, which is when the crowd knows for sure their king has died. Everyone around kneels to Beatrice. Her training has prepared her for this moment. She curtsies deeply for a long time. It’s a symbol of the covenant she’s making with America as their queen. The church bells begin echoing throughout the city. Beatrice rises out of the curtsy as the new monarch, the first female monarch of America.
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