Rivals – Katharine McGee – ARC Review

Title: Rivals
Series: American Royals #2
: Katharine McGee
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Retelling
: May 31st, 2022 (Random House BYR)

Synopsis: Beatrice is queen, and for the American royal family, everything is about to change.

Relationships will be tested.
Princess Samantha is in love with Lord Marshall Davis – but the more serious they get, the more complicated things become. Is Sam destined to repeat her string of broken relationships…and this time will the broken heart be her own?

Strangers will become friends.
Beatrice is representing America at the greatest convocation of kings and queens in the world. When she meets a glamorous foreign princess, she gets drawn into the inner circle…but at what cost?

And rivals will become allies.
Nina and Daphne have spent years competing for Prince Jefferson. Now they have something in common: they both want to take down manipulative Lady Gabriella Madison. Can these enemies join forces, or will old rivalries stand in the way?

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Beatrice has now fully stepped into her role as queen, but her next challenge is already around the corner. The League of Kings, a conference in which royalty from around the world participate, is approaching, and Beatrice is to host this time. Sam, as the ‘spare’, is now her sister’s heir, is struggling with her new situation even as her relationship with Marshall grows more serious. Once rivals in pursuit of Prince Jefferson, things take a surprising turn when Nina and Daphne find themselves on the same side as a greater threat appears in the form of Lady Gabriella Madison, and they must find a way to work together to take her down.

What I liked best about this book was the more in depth look we got at the larger world these characters live in, from what the situation is like for the nobility in America through Sam and Marshall’s storyline, to the royals from other countries and the politics of the whole situation. Between the League of Kings conference, which seemed to mostly be a bunch of parties with some debates and politics thrown in, Sam finishing up a royal tour, and Nina and Jeff in college, this book felt more light hearted at times than the first two, and the change in setting from the palace was certainly welcome. The plot was engaging though I found the pacing in the first half or so of the book a little slow. Rivals is an interesting choice of title for this book. I initially assumed it referred to Nina and Daphne – which it does, but it also applies to Beatrice and Sam in different ways for the situations they are going through and learning to handle too.

Rivals continues to follow the same 4 POVs of Beatrice, Nina, Sam and Daphne. I was hoping for Jeff’s POV in this book to be honest, as I continued to find him a singularly annoying character – though there is a little more insight into his situation and some character development too. With regards to Samantha’s arc, I kind of saw it coming, because the decision she finally arrives at with regards to her complicated relationship with Marshall seemed a bit obvious to me right from the beginning – it was a very Sam like thing to do after all. As a character though, she didn’t stand out to me as much in this book as she did in the previous instalments. The focus this time was very clearly around Beatrice, Nina and Daphne. I enjoyed following Beatrice as she fully steps onto the world stage of royal politics, and alone at that, meeting others of her own age who seem glamorous and fun, but also struggling to determine if she can really trust them. Nina and Daphne’s unexpected alliance in the face of a greater threat was surprising, though it provided some very interesting insight into Daphne as a character.

While I do greatly enjoy Katharine McGee’s brand of drama, I felt that this went somewhat overboard. The addition of Gabriella Madison as a new antagonist to push Nina and Daphne into a sort of friendship, only for everything to be turned on its head again (thanks to – no shocker, Jeff) was unnecessary at this late stage in the story. Seeing a more human side to Daphne was intriguing, but it felt rather jarring to me, because we all know exactly what she has done so far to achieve her goal and it makes her hard to sympathize with in my opinion. Gabriella was really not needed – between Beatrice’s ruling woes, Sam and Marshall’s uncertain relationship and Nina, Jeff and Daphne’s problems, there’s more than enough going on for an entertaining read.

Nonetheless, Rivals ended on an interesting note and I’m definitely looking forward to book 4, though I do hope the series wraps up with it. I would continue to recommend this series as it remains a fascinating take on a what-if at a crucial point in history!

Rivals released on May 31st, 2022.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:


16 thoughts on “Rivals – Katharine McGee – ARC Review

  1. Rocking Specter June 3, 2022 / 3:18 pm

    This is a great review. We always enjoy checking out new books via ARC reviews. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jaya Avendel June 4, 2022 / 4:17 pm

    These books remind me of the Crazy Rich Asians books in terms of where the characters are coming from! Loving the cover art and the story sounds interesting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 19, 2022 / 11:25 am

      That’s actually a great comparison for the series, and this book in particular despite having a somewhat historical retelling kind of premise! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jodie | That Happy Reader June 4, 2022 / 4:37 pm

    Great review! I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this book and you’ve given great detail as to why this may be. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 19, 2022 / 11:24 am

      Thank you! Yes, this series and this book in particular has some very strong plot points and at the same time some that are weak or feel unnecessary, so it’s kind of hard to decide how to review it.


  4. Jodie | That Happy Reader June 4, 2022 / 4:38 pm

    Great review! I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one and you’ve done a great job of giving the pros and cons for the book. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bournemouthgirl June 4, 2022 / 6:28 pm

    I haven’t heard of this before, but I am already sucked in by the cover! You have shared a detailed review. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

    Lauren x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Molly | Transatlantic Notes June 4, 2022 / 7:23 pm

    Even though the first half was a bit slow (always nice to read an honest review when it’s like this) it does sound enjoyable. I don’t often read this genre but I would like this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 19, 2022 / 11:20 am

      This is turning into an entertaining series despite the pacing, so I’d definitely recommend it! Thanks for reading!


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