I received this book for free from Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Royals Next Door by Karina HalleThe Royals Next Door by Karina Halle
Published by berkley on August 31, 2021
Genres: Rom Com
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Advance Reader Copy
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An ordinary summer goes royally awry when a prince and princess move next door, bringing their handsome bodyguard with them, from New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle.

Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day--avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she's happy with how things are--really--until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she's a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person's fairy tale is an ordinary woman's nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison's no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who's sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she'll need more than Harrison's strong arms to shield her--she'll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they're willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.

This book looked cute, and it’s super obviously a Harry/Meghan nod.

Quick summary is that the Duke and Duchess of “Not Sussex” move in next door to Piper, her life devolves into chaos. She comes home and she’s stopped by an attractive and bossy man. He’s there to protect the duke and duchess, and their privacy. He’s scoping out Piper to see if she’ll be an issue. But he also is warning her that her life will change a lot. The paparazzi will eventually hunt down the location of where the royal couple is hiding for a few months before heading back to England, and they will be in Piper’s way too. She has no clue what she’s in for. Meanwhile, she takes care of her mother who has a mental illness and I don’t recall if it’s actually spelled out, I don’t think it is, but it’s possibly BPD or maybe Bipolar. This is a huge deal, because Piper spends the entire book trying to protect her mom, but in doing so, she’s infantilizing her, and it just makes it worse. Her mom doesn’t react well to change, so Piper hides the fact that they have royal neighbors. Piper constantly tiptoes around her mother, and hides things from her. Piper just felt very emotionally young to me.

This crops up often with how she is with Harrison. He’s the no-nonsense kind of bodyguard who takes his job very seriously. But he’s also a friend to the royal couple, and he never ever ever takes a day off. That just felt really unrealistic. And I’m totally okay suspending my belief for so many things, but when you create a certain type of character, and something doesn’t fit, it’s jarring. Harrison lost me when he got sloppy drunk at a local bar on his first night off in years. It didn’t fit with his character. I didn’t like it, and I don’t think it was necessary.

Once the paparazzi found the royals, I do like how Harrison started to include Piper into his security detail, though. It was a nice touch, and it allowed for a lot of excellent tension and banter. The two of them sniping at each other was kind of fun. Piper’s friendship with the duchess was fantastic, and the ending really made me happy. This book has an upbeat and light vibe, though so it’s easy to get caught up in it. I enjoyed watching Piper gain back some confidence she’d lost, and I enjoyed her journey with her mother. I don’t feel like there was as much romance as I’d like, although the sexual tension was there in spades.

If you like a sassy heroine, a stoic and non-nonsense hero, and if you’re a Harry and Meghan fan, you’ll love this.

***Review copy provided by Berkley publishing