An LGBTQ love story tinged wth palace intrigue, Her Royal Highness is sure to appeal to readers who can’t get enough of the royal family — or those who buck its conventions.
The novel is the latest from best-selling author Rachel Hawkins, whose last novel Royals EW’s Maureen Lee Lenker called “the perfect antidote to the glut of gossipy tabloid reporting surrounding the royal wedding.” (The book will be repackaged in paperback as Prince Charming.) Her Royal Highness, fashioned as a standalone companion novel, continues in that tradition. The book centers on a Scottish princess and her new American import roommate, and the against-all-odds love story that develops between them.
Here’s the official synopsis: “Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. Heartbroken and ready for a change of pace, Millie decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools — the farther from Houston the better. Soon, Millie is accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Here, the country is dreamy and green; the school is covered in ivy, and the students think her American-ness is adorable. The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess. She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland. At first, the girls can’t stand each other, but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, but Millie knows the chances of happily-ever-afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale — or is it?”
Hawkins has exclusively shared a swoon-worthy excerpt of the book with EW, which you can read below. And be sure to check out the cover at the top of this post. Her Royal Highness publishes May 7, 2019, and is available for pre-order.
Excerpt from Her Royal Highness, by Rachel Hawkins
There are a bunch of students milling around on the lawn, some in uniform, some not. I’m still wearing my jeans and T-shirt, since my uniform is supposed to be waiting for me in . . . Pulling my backpack into my lap, I take out the email I printed out. Room 327, I read, my fingers moving over the numbers. My room. The room I’m going to live in for the next year.
With another girl.
That’s one of the weirder parts of this whole boarding school experiment—living with someone else. I was an only child up until eighteen months ago, and I’ve never shared a space with someone else like this.
Still, good practice for college, right?
Mr. McGregor pulls the car up to the front of the school, where there are already kids heading in, dragging huge roller bags. I have a massive suitcase of my own in the back of the Land Rover (gotten on sale at TJ Maxx, thank you very much), and before I know it, I’m standing there in the huge front hall of Gregorstoun, the handle of the bag in my hand.
It’s chaos, people weaving in and out, and I look around, trying to take it all in, a mix of nerves and jet lag making me feel more anxious than I’d anticipated.
I’m mostly surprised by how many boys there are. All kinds of boys. Boys who look about twelve, boys who tower over me as they make their way into the house. There must be five boys for every one girl, and I wonder just how many of us applied to be part of Gregorstoun’s first female class.
The ground floor still looks like someone’s house. There are paintings on the wall, little tables full of bric-a-brac, and soft carpets underfoot.
Ahead of me, a wooden staircase spirals upward, and, swallowing hard, I head toward it, lugging my bag behind me.
There are no elevators—or lifts, I guess they’d call them here—so I definitely get my cardio in hauling everything I own up to the third floor.
It’s a little less chaotic up here, and dimmer. There are fewer windows, and the carpet underfoot feels almost moldy as I creep along it.
But I find Room 327 easy enough, and when I open the door, there’s no one in there.
Standing on the threshold, I face two twin beds, one dresser, and a desk on either side of the door. In fact, if you open the door all the way, it hits one of the desks, and for some reason, I decide to go ahead and claim that side of the room. That might endear me to my roommate, right? Picking the crappy side?
Pulling my suitcase all the way into the room, I sit on the little bed with its scratchy white sheets and green wool blanket.
I’ve done it. I’ve come to Scotland, and I’m here for the next year.
Before the enormity of what I’ve done can fully sink in, I whip out my phone, pulling up FaceTime to call Dad.
He answers almost immediately, and I grin with relief to see him there in the living room.
“You made it!” he enthuses, dark eyes crinkling at the corners, and I nod, spinning my phone around so he can see my room.
“Living it up in the lap of luxury, obviously,” I say, and Anna pops her head in.
“Oh my god, it’s so . . . quaint,” she says, raising her eyebrows, and I wave at her.
“If quaint means a little creepy and small, then yes!”
She frowns slightly, leaning closer to Dad’s phone. “Millie, if this isn’t—” she starts to say, but then the door to my room flies open again, thumping hard against my desk.
“No,” a voice insists. “This is not what was agreed to.”
A girl steps into the room followed by a man in a dark suit, and just for a second, my family and my phone are totally forgotten.
It’s not cool to stare, I know that, but this is literally the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen in my life.
She’s taller than I am, and her hair is gold. Like. Literally gold, like dark honey. It’s held back from her face with a thin headband, and that face . . .
I realize while looking at her that beauty is more than just the way your face is structured, the weird quirks of DNA and societal norms that make us say, “This nose is the best nose,” or “This is why I like this mouth,” or whatever. This girl has clearly won a genetic lottery, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not just that—it’s that she seems to glow. Her skin is so smooth and luminous I want to stroke her face like some kind of weirdo. I’m not sure she would even know what the word “pore” means. Does she follow one of those intense ten-step skin routines? Has she found magical sheet masks made of pearls?
Maybe this is just what being rich does to your face. Because there’s no doubt this girl is also very, very rich. Her clothes are simple—a sweater and jeans tucked into high leather boots—but they practically smell like money. She smells like money.
Also, only rich people can curl their lips the way she’s currently doing at the guy in the suit who followed her in. Her dad? He looks a little young, plus it’s hard to imagine that a guy with heavy jowls and pockmarked skin could possibly be related to this actual angel of a girl, standing there with a Louis Vuitton bag in the crook of her elbow.
“Your mother—” the man starts, and she throws up her hands.
“Call her, then.”
“Pardon?” the man asks, his heavy brow wrinkling.
“Call my mother,” she repeats, her voice carrying just the softest Scottish burr. Her chin is lifted, and I can actually feel tension vibrating off her.
“We were told—” the man says on a sigh, but she’s not giving in.
“Call my mother.”
On my phone, Dad scowls. “Everything okay?” he asks, and I glance back at my new roommate, still imperiously repeating, “Call my mother,” every time the man tries to speak. And now I realize he’s pulled his phone out, I assume to call her mother, and she’s still saying it, over and over again, like a toddler.
“Call my mother. Call my mother. Call. My. Mother.” Maybe it’s jet lag. Maybe it’s the weird, weightless feeling in my stomach that started the moment I walked into the school and just what a massive change I’d made fully sunk in.
But I turn to look over at her, and before I can think better of it, I hear myself say, “Hey. Veruca Salt.”
Her lips part slightly, eyebrows going up as she stares at me. “Pardon?”
I’ve never wanted to pull words back into my mouth so badly. Lee was right about me not liking confrontation—it’s pretty much my least favorite thing, right there underneath mayonnaise and jazz music. But something about how this girl is talking just . . . bugged me.
So maybe this is who I am now? Millie Quint, Confronter of People.
I decide to keep going with it.
“Do you mind being a little quieter?” I waggle my phone at her. “Some of us are trying to talk, and it seems like my dude here is calling your mom, so, like, maybe take it down a thousand notches?”
She keeps staring at me, and the man with her is now looking at me, too, his florid face going even redder.
Whatever. I take a deep breath and turn back to Dad. “Look, I’m here, I’m safe, everything is great . . . ish, and I’ll call you back later, okay?”
Rubbing his eyes, Dad nods. “Sounds good, Mils. Love you.” “Love you, too.”
He hangs up, and I go back to the suitcase on my bed. I still have a ton of unpacking to do, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get this room looking even the littlest bit homey, so I should—
“Did you really call me Veruca Salt?”
I turn around to see my new roommate standing there with her arms folded. The guy who was with her is out in the hall, talking on his cell phone, probably to this girl’s mom like she asked.
I take a second to study her now that I’m not blinded by her bone structure and shiny hair. Her sweater is a pale green that would make anyone else look vaguely ill, but just plays up the gold in her eyes, and yeah, my original take of her being the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen holds up, but the sulky way her mouth is turning down kills a little bit of her glow.
“I did, yeah,” I tell her. “It seemed like you were about three seconds from launching into a musical number about wanting things, so it just felt right.”
Her lips purse together, curling up into a smile. “Charming,” she finally says, then her eyes drop to my jeans—nowhere near as nice as hers—and my long-sleeved T-shirt. It’s the one I got working on the yearbook last year. I’d figured there was no sense in dressing up, since we’d get our uniforms as soon as we came, but now, next to this girl, I feel a little . . . grubby.
“I take it you’re my roommate,” she says, and I cross my own arms, mimicking her posture.
“So it seems.”