Book Review

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

TW: Miscarriage, infertility

The Heir Affair is the follow up to 2015’s debut The Royal We, a book I enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately, while the humor and the narrator’s voice still worked for me, there was no character growth at all in The Heir Affair. A lot of things happen in the book, but the three main characters, Bex, Nick and Freddie all end up at pretty much the same place they started at.

First of all, you really do need to read The Royal We to understand The Heir Affair. This book takes place almost immediately after the first one, and there isn’t a ton of exposition to understand the character relationships that were developed in The Royal We.

These novels are very, very loosely based on the royal family in England. In the first book, American Rebecca “Bex” Porter goes to university in England where she meets Prince Nicholas, heir to the throne. She and Nick fall in love, his family conspires against her (especially his dad who is awful), but they make it work and when The Heir Affair opens they’ve just gotten married. Unfortunately, at the exact same time they’re saying “I do” the press drops a story that Bex cheated on Nick with his younger brother, Prince Freddie. It’s true that Freddie told Bex he loved her and they kissed, but now Nick is doubting her feelings for him and the press is demonizing Bex as a slut.

The reason The Royal We worked for me was that Bex and Nick were in their own little bubble at university which gave them the space to know each other and fall in love. It’s definitely a romance novel. The events in The Heir Affair are mostly bad things happening to Bex, her enduring them without advocating much for herself, and Nick and Freddie being jerks to each other. Even though Nick and Bex’s marriage is the focus for part of the book, the sequel isn’t a romance and it felt like a lot of the book was dedicated to members of the royal family being shitty to each other, which wasn’t exactly the most fun to read.

Here’s an example of Nick and Freddie’s relationship for most of the novel:

“Thanks for finally joining us,” Nick said.

“I’m not late, I’m ninety seconds early,” [Freddie] huffed. “In any case blame Father. We were having lunch, just to catch up, and it went long.” Freddie straightened proudly. “He’s sending me to Portsmouth later this month for a thing with the Navy.”

Nick looked confused. “I thought I was going.”

“Father felt it only fair, since I’m the one still in the Navy.”

“Certainly,” Nick said. “I’m still extremely busy anyway. Did Father mention that he’s giving me the patronage of the Imperial War Museums?”

“No,” Freddie said evenly. “We’ve been too busy discussing how I’m taking over the British Society for Early Childhood Development.”

“That’s a big one,” Nick said pleasantly. “Bex and I are being given Pediatric Blindness. Maybe we can collaborate on something.”

“Maybe,” Freddie said. “I’m going to be rather preoccupied with Children’s Anemia, but perhaps we can work Blindness in.”

“That’d be fantastic assuming our Lyme Disease schedule allows it,” Nick said.

Nick and Freddie are like this for most of the novel and it’s exhausting. It also leaves Bex more or less alone while the brothers figure their shit out (or don’t).

Bex is the narrator and so we experience everything through her perspective. Through most of the book she seems very isolated: Nick is upset about her kissing Freddie, Freddie is upset that she doesn’t love him back, and the Queen is mad all around. The relationship between Bex and Queen Eleanor was the one I struggled with the most as the Queen is almost relentlessly shitty to Bex, but Bex still tries so hard to forge some kind of relationship.

There are some genuinely funny moments when you think the Queen and Bex might become friends, like when Bex teaches the Queen about baseball and turns her into a Cubs fan, but for every moment of kindness and friendship the Queen offers (like watching the playoffs in a special theater room with baseball-themed foods), there’s another moment where she tears Bex down for not being good enough. I’ve experienced a similar relationship and it was sometimes emotionally painful for me to read about Bex being treated that way.

And it didn’t help that

Show Spoiler
there’s never any resolution or apology for the Queen’s treatment of Bex.

We also find out the Queen’s Big Secret and it’s so genuinely awful I couldn’t forgive her for it.

When we finally get to Nick and Bex working through their relationship issues so Nick can trust her again it just boils down to…

Huge Spoiler Here
they have twins so that makes everything okay, I guess?

In the end what was so frustrating about this book is that nothing gets solved or addressed in a meaningful way.

Can’t discuss the ending without spoiling it

Nick and Bex put a huge, ineffective Band-Aid on their marriage by thinking having twins will solve all their issues without talking about them. Meanwhile, the conflict with Freddie is never fully resolved, and the Queen turns out to be a worse person that I thought going in.

It was hard to find any satisfaction in that. I recommend stopping at The Royal We in this series or risk major disappointment.

This book is available from:
  • Available at Amazon
  • Order this book from apple books

  • Order this book from Barnes & Noble
  • Order this book from Kobo

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
We also may use affiliate links in our posts, as well. Thanks!

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks

View Book Info Page

Add Your Comment →

  1. 1
    Kit says:
    29+

    The amount of stories that end with babies is starting to be irritating to me. I know that a lot of relationships do usually end up with children but in novels it’s often used as an unsatisfactory wrap up of a plotline. Children do not repeat, do not solve problems in a relationship, I know this from firsthand experience, the frustrations of a major life change can test a relationship, so if it’s already on shaky ground it’s probably not going to survive a single child let alone twins! While we’re at it can we put an end to those dreadful baby epilogues?

    I wouldn’t read this because I’ve no intention of reading the first book. Also as my family come from Portsmouth UK, I’d be sure to find many things wrong about the city it would be irritating!

  2. 2
    Cheryl says:
    16+

    Thank you for this; saved me a purchase. I thought this was going to be Freddie’s love story… at least that’s the way the last one ended. Sort of. I also don’t like how Bex is blamed for Freddie’s behavior.

  3. 3
    Sarah says:
    15+

    I just read this. I liked it. I kind of disagree that they magically fix things, you can see them get better at communicating and honestly it gets points for normalizing therapy and extra points for normalizing a guy going to therapy. If anything I felt like too much of the book was resolving past issues (the baby thing is in the last part and takes place over several years. I’d argue it’s not a plot device around their relationship– more of a plot device about British succession). They talk a lot about Nick and Bex feeling like they are getting blamed for Freddie’s actions. Freddie has an emotional arc that is bittersweet.

    I ended up enjoying her relationship with the Queen too. She’s mean in the first bit and then is more crotchety and obviously fond of Bex.

    I can see the criticisms, but I liked it. YMMV

  4. 4
    DiscoDollyDeb says:
    12+

    @Kit: a couple of years ago, there was a Rec League for child-free romances. The responses include historicals and contemporaries:

    https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/2018/11/the-rec-league-childfree-romance/

  5. 5
    Sue says:
    13+

    Thanks Elyse for this review. I didn’t like The Royal We very much (I found Bex aimless and kinda whiny), so I don’t even have those warm feelings to carry over onto this book. Gonna have to be a no from me, then.

  6. 6
    Darlynne says:
    5+

    That’s one less book for my hold pile at the library. I just don’t need that right now, funny parts notwithstanding. Thanks for reviewing this, Elyse.

  7. 7
    BrandanWH says:
    5+

    It took me forever to read the first one, so I imagine a longer slog if I had tried to read book 2. I appreciate the review!

  8. 8
    Rebecca says:
    10+

    So glad to know it wasn’t just me! I liked but didn’t love the first and this one I DNF’d- everyone was so mean and angsty and there was just no sign it would get better.

  9. 9
    Ginger says:
    11+

    I 5-starred the first one and 2-starred this one. So much of it made me uncomfortable or sad or angry. There was just enough comedy and/or sweetness to get me to the end, but once I finished I had to admit that I really didn’t enjoy the journey.

  10. 10
    Adrienne says:
    4+

    My hold just came up on this and I ended up returning it early because I had too many books to read. I think I’ll move this one further down my TBR pile for when I’m in the mood. I loved The Royal We, but I’ll admit I was disappointed that the next book wasn’t about Freddie. He was favorite from the first book and I’d had loved a book from his POV

  11. 11
    Lisa F says:
    5+

    It’s so disappointing to hear the author decided to go with a “babies as relationship spackle” plot. No thank you!

  12. 12
    devra says:
    3+

    i agree with ALL OF THIS–the only thing IMHO you missed was that the book was at least 200 pages too long on top of everything else that felt like a chore.

  13. 13
    Sara says:
    1+

    I kept waiting and hoping for a twist that never came. I agree they didn’t fix their relationship and I couldn’t buy into it. She felt more passionate toward Freddie IMHO. She also rarely got any significant time with her friends.

  14. 14
    Carolyn says:
    1+

    I didn’t care for this book, didn’t like any of the characters except (although the queen had her moments). However, I thought it was a very good fictionalization of the pressures and problems that go with being a British royal. For all the trappings, all the privileges, the life is awful if you want to be a normal, healthy person. That point was so clearly made, it gave me sympathy for the characters I otherwise wouldn’t have felt.

  15. 15
    Carolyn says:
    0

    Ooops–typo spotted too late! Ignore the extra word “except” in the first line of my comment.

  16. 16
    Sophia says:
    1+

    I disagree that the nothing was settled in the ending. I found that Bex and Eleanor’s relationship progressed and although the Queen may have tried manipulating Bex at the beginning she genuinely became found of Bex and Bex was able to almost accept her as a grandmother figure. I do think Bex’ sand Freddie’s relationship was left unsolved (I was a bit confused by all that because everyone seemed to think Bex had deeper feelings for Freddie but I never thought it went beyond her seeing him like a brother) however I thought that Bex and Nick relationship was stable at the end. They seemed did a very good job of working and talking through their problems after new year’s eve and both learned to trust each other by the end. I did not think the twins birth put a band-aid on their relationship and I thought that Nicks ability to accept the circumstances was very mature and showed that he was able to put the past behind him and focus on his future with Bex.

  17. 17
    kim says:
    1+

    I liked it more than Elyse, even though I don’t exactly disagree with any of her comments. For me, the core issue – which underlies some of what Elyse notes here – is that the book is overstuffed and trying to do too much. There are at least 2 too many plotlines – remarkable in a book that’s 450 pages long. For all the characters and plotlines to be properly developed and come to a fulfilling conclusion, each part would have needed to be its own book. Nick is almost entirely gone for the section about Bex and Eleanor’s relationship, then Eleanor disappears for long stretches during the infertility and pregnancy part. Lacey and Bex’s relationship is basically instantly repaired, Bex and Daphne’s relationship isn’t developed at all even though Bex was all excited to make a new friend. And then a ton of stuff, including the big secret reveal, was all crammed into the final 40 pages.

    But all that said, I still enjoyed it. Solid B- for me.

  18. 18
    Jennifer says:
    1+

    I forgot to order the book, which I had been really looking forward to, because I forgot when it published. Now I’m glad I’m didn’t. This sounds like such a horrendous disappointment after hoping for a sequel for years. I really liked the first one and I’m so sad to hear the second is almost entirely nothing but bummer. (And still wishing for a Freddie book instead.)

    I am not, however, surprised that a book about royals ended with babies ever after though. You’re not allowed to be childfree if you’re royal, period. So that’s not a surprise.

  19. 19
    Jessi says:
    0

    I loved The Royal We (I’ve read it 3 or 4 times, though not recently) so I was very excited to read this. I, too, thought it was going to be Freddy’s story. And that probably set me up for some disappointment. Over all, I’d probably give this a C, maybe a C+, mostly because I was expecting a romance novel and I really don’t think this was one. This was about Bex dealing with many fraught relationships in her life, and while there were some fun royal shenanigans, it wasn’t enough to sway me. In fairness, I really only like “falling in love” books, not “2nd chance at love” books so this was never going to be that high on my list.

  20. 20
    Georgie says:
    0

    Hard agree with this review. I absolutely LOVED The Royal We and was so excited to see this sequel. I haven’t been buying books lately but made an exception to this one. It was a mistake.

    The book sort of dragged along and Bex was isolated and never had her own agency. And no having children to solve all of their problems is not it.

Add Your Comment

Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

↑ Back to Top