Cracked Kingdom (The Royals #5) by Erin Watt

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1.) Paper Princess ★★★
2.) Broken Prince ★★
3.) Twisted Palace ★★
4.) Fallen Heir ★★

You all can clearly see that this series has been disappointing me for a little while now, but this installment was really the Lord testing me, I swear. Which is so damn sad, because Easton is truly my favorite in this whole unbelievable family drama.

“God created a billion men, developed the perfect face, and stuck it on Easton Royal.”

The Royal series is a new adult romance series that features a family that has five incredibly rich, extremely privileged, and obviously super-hot boys. The first trilogy starred the second to oldest brother, Reed, and a girl named Ella who comes into the brother’s lives. Well, now Reed is off at college, and the new story arc belongs to the middle brother, Easton. And he fell for a girl named Hartley in Fallen Heir, even though she feels so very off limits because of everything going on in her life.

But with the cliffhanger ending that Fallen Heir gave us, I was thinking a million things when starting this. And guess what? None of them were true. Which already started the book off to be a disappointment, but then we got one of my least favorite storyline tropes of all time! Hartley became so annoying that I just wanted to put the book down a million times. And why she would believe everyone but Easton was something I still can’t even wrap my head around.

“Me dating Easton Royal is about as likely as me hooking up with one of the members of BTS—in other words, not likely at all.”

And normally these books are super sexy, but there is legit only one sex scene in this book and it’s mediocre at best. Instead of this being a sexy, angsty, love story we get an even more unrealistic book that slut shames constantly. Also, I get that Easton was being playful, but when he kept joking with Hartley about him being a virgin, and it being his first time, I wanted to stab him.

And when I say unrealistic, it is the understatement of the year. I mean, these books are already so drama-filled and unbelievable, but Cracked Kingdom really somehow made it even worse. From unbelievable parental lineage, to the most vile and random side character, to pointless school bullying, this book has it all.

And major trigger and content warnings for: serious events in a hospital setting, sexual harassment, verbal abuse constantly, physical abuse between students, extreme bullying, parental abuse (physical, emotional, verbal), underage drinking, drug use, and talk of overdosing.

Oh, and this is just a personal gripe, but the computer hacker character was one big mash up of every stereotype you could imagine, Doritos included, and I’m not sure if anything in literature has made my eyes roll further back into my head.

And from the last chapter of this book, you just know that Erin Watt isn’t done with this world. And honestly? I can’t keep doing this to myself. And I already hate the set up for the next storyline.

Overall, I’m just done. You know, I know I have masochistic tendencies, but I can’t keep doing this to myself. I need to stop remembering how much I loved the Off-Campus series and realize that this series just isn’t for me. But if you all like the most improbable story lines in your new adult romance, then I completely recommend The Royal Series!

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Buddy read with Julie, Paloma, & Amy! ❤

Fallen Heir (The Royals, #4) by Erin Watt

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1.) Paper Princess ★★★
2.) Broken Prince ★★
3.) Twisted Palace ★★

At this point, you guys know I’m trash for this series. It’s honestly just like a high school soap opera, but it’s so addicting and completely impossible to put down. And even though I haven’t enjoyed any of the installments as much as Paper Princess, I knew I couldn’t pass this by because this story is about my favorite Royal boy, Easton.

Reed’s off to college and Ella and Easton are finishing their senior year of school. And Easton is still being Easton; abusing drugs, fighting, having sex with anyone without thinking of consequences. And after one day at school where he chooses to be particularly bad, he is confronted by a girl who is immune to his charm. Hartley Wright is dealing with her own dark secrets, and she doesn’t have time to deal with Easton or his bullshit.

“You’re not the white knight in this picture. You’re the villain!”

But, like, Easton’s story starts out feeling really… gross? And it honestly just set a really bad tone for the book for me. Reed and Ella’s story was a slow, agonizing burn that started out as a hate to love, but it was still an always mutual attraction. Easton refuses to take no for an answer from his love interest and it made me really uncomfortable to read about.

Hartley never shows interest in Easton, which makes Easton want her because she’s so openly unattainable. And instead of respecting her and her wishes and trying to slowly win her over or something, he honestly stalks her. He changes his school schedule to have the same classes as her, he goes to her parents’ house unannounced, he honestly won’t leave her alone no matter how much she protests. And this goes on for like half of the book, until Hartley finally breaks down and starts liking him. But, like, she’s going through so many sad things in her life, it feels worse that she’s using her stalker as comfort because she honestly doesn’t have anyone else.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just being really sensitive because I know how it feels to tell a guy no and for them to turn around and refuse to listen. Plus, it feels so bad being romanticized, especially because Easton was my favorite out of his brothers! He always seems to sweet, caring, and kind, but was abusing substances because he couldn’t deal with the death of his mother. His character had so much potential to find someone and have a better start of a relationship than him being a creepy stalker.

Also, trigger warnings: losing a parent, underage sexual content (17), teacher and student relationship, physical abuse, underage drinking, drug use, addiction, and a lot of toxic male masculinity. So please use caution before going into this book.

All of these books end in a cliffhanger, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that this one did, too, even though I was secretly hoping for Easton to have a standalone HEA book. Yet, this cliffhanger is the mother of all cliffhangers. Like, let me be the first to say that I’m sure Cracked Kingdom is going to start out with the ending of this book not being as bad as they are making it seem though.

And I know you guys are probably like, “Melanie, why do you keep reading this series if you continue to give it two stars over and over?” And that is such a valid question, and I know I should just cut my losses, but this series truly is addicting and so very fast paced. Like, all the problematic content shines so brightly through the story, but it is still somehow impossible to not turn the page, and that makes for a good reading experience even if I have to write reviews like this afterwards.

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Twisted Palace (The Royals, #3) by Erin Watt

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1.) Paper Princess ★★★
2.) Broken Prince ★★

Man, oh, man! That was quite the ride! And, I know that you guys are probably thinking I’m going to be negative because of the two star rating, but I honestly got so much enjoyment from this series.

Twisted Palace is the third book and concluding arc for Reed and Ella’s storyline! At least, I think, because a few of my friends have notified me that Fallen Heir is all about Easton (my favorite Royal, hands down)! So, you guys are safe on putting bets down that I will binge that book immediately after Halloween!

And this book immediately picks up where Broken Prince’s cliffhanger left off! Ella and Reed’s relationship is definitely put to the test, and the soap opera twists never cease to continue! Drama ensues, and never stops ensuing if I’m being honest, but I am very much satisfied with the ending of this book, even if there were a few convenient loose ends.

I’ve stated in both of my reviews for Paper Princess and Broken Prince that this series has a lot of problematic elements that I know many of my bookish friends wouldn’t enjoy. And trigger warnings: losing a parent, underage sexual content (17), physical abuse, sexual assault, attempted rape, underage drinking, drug use, addiction, a lot of slut shaming, and a lot of toxic male masculinity. So please use caution before going into this book.

And even though the main protagonists in this series are in high school, this is not a YA book in the slightest! This is NA and has a lot of sexual and erotic scenes that should only be read by mature audiences. So please use caution when starting any of these books.

Overall, I really enjoyed these three books, even with giving the last two only two stars each. These are the perfect fluffy, addicting reads and at this point I truly will auto buy everything that Elle Kennedy has a part in, because her stories are always magic. Maybe magic with a little toxic male masculinity with some problematic content, but addicting magic none the less!

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Broken Prince (The Royals, #2) by Erin Watt

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1.) Paper Princess ★★★

Broken Prince is much worse than Paper Princess in every way, but it was still an addictive read that I couldn’t put down. Again, I was having a rough couple of days and just wanted to read a really fast story that I didn’t really have to think about, and this series totally fits that bill.

This book starts off right where Paper Princess left off, and I mean right off, so thank the Lord for not having to wait for explanation to that terrible cliffhanger, but Reed’s reaction was just so lame, I’m sorry. We get to see the angst ensue for over fifty percent of this book, while also seeing Reed beg for Ella to forgive him for his gross actions, and then the real story gets started. It’s too bad that the real story is improbable that I felt like I was watching The Bold and The Beautiful with my Grandma back in Flint, Michigan.

Plus, this book is hella problematic and not only condones violence, but constantly reinforces that violence will solve your problems and you’ll get away with doing shitty things. The topic of bullying is never really challenged, and it made this installment in this series much less enjoyably for me. Also, trigger warnings for losing a parent, underage sexual content (17), physical abuse, sexual assault, attempted rape, underage drinking, drug use, addiction, a lot of slut shaming, and a lot of toxic male masculinity. So please use caution before going into this book.

And most importantly: This series is NOT YA! This story definitely deals with seventeen and eighteen year-olds that are still in high school, but I would still consider this NA, because of the very mature themes and because of all the sexual content. So, again, please use caution.

Also, because I know most of you follow me for my fantasy reviews, I always feel it necessary to state that I rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment, yet this still got only two stars from me, because it became the equivalent to a soap opera in every way.

Like, the twists were just too damn unbelievable that I had to laugh out loud numerous times. And I mean, like, I was witch cackling at the absurdity. And even though Paper Princess had a heart wrenching cliffhanger from hell, Broken Prince had the most annoying and outlandish cliffhanger of all time.

Overall, I still recommend this series if you’re looking for a quick and easy series that is honestly enjoyable. Unfortunately, I just enjoyed this one more for the laughs than for the sexy time. I obviously don’t hate this series, or I wouldn’t be happily binging the entire thing, but there is a lot of uncontested problematic content, on top of some of the plot being downright unbelievable.

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Paper Princess (The Royals, #1) by Erin Watt (Elle Kennedy & Jen Frederick)

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I was having a rough two days mental health wise, so I just wanted to drop everything on my TBR and read something I didn’t really have to think about, but I knew I’d probably enjoy. I wanted something fast paced, with an addicting story, and maybe some sexy times, and Paper Princess was the perfect pick for me.

By looking at some of my friends’ reviews I feel like I really need to say that this is not a YA book in the slightest! This is NA and has a lot of sexual scenes that should only be read by mature audiences! This has many erotic scenes and for sure should have a sexual content warning.

As for trigger warnings: losing a parent, underage sexual content (17), physical abuse, sexual assault, attempted rape, underage drinking, drug use, addiction, a lot of slut shaming, and a lot of toxic male masculinity. So please use caution before going into this book.

And there are a lot of weird gender role expectations in this book, too. Like, the main female protagonist has to cook spaghetti because they boys can’t figure it out. And then, later, she can’t figure out the football teams, but she brings up the lion on the helmet. There are more of these instances sprinkled throughout the book, and I wasn’t offended, it just feels… not so great reading.

Also, because I know most of you follow me for my fantasy reviews, I always feel it necessary to state that I rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment, and I truly did enjoy Paper Princess.

Paper Princess is cowritten by Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick under the pseudonym Erin Watt. And Elle Kennedy has written one of my favorite NA series of all time, the Off-Campus series, so I knew I had to eventually try out this series, too. And I’m so happy that I finally did.

And Paper Princess stars a young girl named Ella, who has only known a life of jumping from new city to new city where her and her mom can barely make ends meet. But after her mother’s death, Ella is trying to survive on her own. And all she wants to do is get a high school diploma, so she can go to college and eventually give herself a stable life.

Then, a man appears out of nowhere, claiming to be her mystery father’s best friend and business partner. He promises to give Ella a better life, because her father, too, has tragically just passed away.

Ella is then thrown into the Royal family, where the man that is trying to help her also has five sons himself. And let’s just say that they are not the most open to the idea of their father taking in a random girl. And they all basically just think the absolute worst of Ella, right off the bat.

“You may have lost your family, but you’re not alone anymore, Ella. You’re a Royal now.”

Ella is quickly thrown into the world of prep schools and old money, while she is dealing with the grief of losing her mother, and the hope of starting a better life.

I’m not going to say this book is perfect, it’s far from it, but I read this in one sitting because I truly just couldn’t put it down. The romance is amazing, the angst is out of this world, and I’m just a sucker for a good hate to love relationship and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Also, I need to start Broken Prince immediately, because Paper Princess ends on maybe the worst cliffhanger I’ve ever read in my entire life.

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