“Jill Knapp, author of What Happens to Men When they Move to Manhattan, the first in the Chase series, shares the top ten women’s fiction books that all aspiring writers should read.” – We Heart Writing
To our surprise, Almost Royalty, by Courtney Hamilton, made the top 10 novels Jill Knapp recommends every author should read, coming in at a cool number 7. It is an honor to be compared to such successful authors such as Emily Giffin, Karyn Bosnak, and Sophie Jordan, just to name a few. If you love glitz and glamor and social satire, you’re going to love Almost Royalty.
To see the complete top 10 list, click to see Jill Knapp’s top 10 chick lit recommendation.
Some even more great news!
Midwest Book Review just wrote an amazing review of Almost Royalty, and I wanted to be the first to share it with all the readers of my blog. The following is the review of Almost Royalty written by Diane Donovan:
There’s a BBC TV show airing with a very similar title – but don’t mix up Courtney Hamilton’s book with the BBC production: the only things they share in common is comedy and a part of a title; but the comedy’s especially well done in this book.
This novel is set in Los Angeles, and Hamilton’s ability to use laser-sharp dialogue to strike at the heart of irony and upper class aspirations are captured in an unerring conversation between three friends:
“I saw my friends, Bettina and Marcie, approaching. I got out of my car.
“Hi you guys,” I said.
“You aren’t still driving that, are you?” said Marcie.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s a Honda,” said Marcie.
“It’s ugly,” said Bettina.
“It’s paid for,” I said.
“Sure, but is that the statement you want to make?” said Marcie.
“I’m not making any statement.”
“Exactly,” said Marcie, “so why don’t you go move that around the block so no one sees you getting into it when we leave.”
Best friends facing adulthood and an elite Los Angeles atmosphere also face the consequences of being ‘almost royalty’ in their attitudes – all but one (the protagonist), who observes (as an outsider) the ironies of nouveau riche thinking and turns these viewpoints into hilarious dialogue that successfully nails the fallacies inherent in unspoken class systems and ideals of royalty among celebrities and non-celebrities alike.
Movements in such a world tend to assume a dance around taste, style, and perceived wealth. They tend to take the form of unerring examinations of attitudes; particularly when major events (such as a wedding) evoke a storm of resentment, expectations, and unrealistic pressures – all are captured, once again, in the protagonist’s cutting-edge observations: “Unfortunately, this wasn’t just about Marcie becoming a bride. That would have been fine and I could have played along, doing those fake bride-friend type things like telling her that her butt didn’t look too big in the dress and pretending to like the groom. For Marcie, this was about her finally reaching her life-long goal: Marrying into L.A.’s Civilian Class Royalty and becoming part of that unique group of L.A. women who: (1) married well, (2) never again had to work, and (3) staffed the volunteer committees of L.A.’s most exclusive private schools.”
Under Hamilton’s hand, achieving status and success is analyzed for what it too often is: a game that revolves not just around money and its acquisition, but perceptions of what constitutes achievement.
Now, the protagonist is no street urchin: she’s an attorney with power and status in her own right. Her childhood friendships have evolved much as her own status – in unexpected directions – and when she’s pursued by an ambitious bachelor who presumes to know her own needs better than she, further conflict evolves.
Almost Royalty is a tongue-in-cheek observation of something purported to exist primarily in Britain: the class system. It’s a different American kind of class system, however, with its own set of rules and its own approaches to life: “In Los Angeles, a town with few traditions, an unspoken class system existed. There was the Celebrity Royalty—the multi-millionaire (and somewhat feral) first-generation successes of the entertainment industry who behaved as if Los Angeles existed for their benefit only. The rules, schedules, and boundaries of civilized life existed for the others—the “Civilians,” those who were not the multi-millionaire successes of the entertainment industry.
The Civilians had their own Royalty: They came from business, oil, high tech, or real estate.”
An unusual note here is that much of the humor lies in bantering dialogue between the protagonist and various friends, suitors, and acquaintances: an unusual device that requires more than a degree of realistic back-and-forth that, ironically, is often more difficult to capture in dialogue than in text description. That Hamilton achieves this through precise plays on words is further evidence of her skills at blending social observation and romance with fun injections of humor:
“And she’s getting the cobbler, which I am going to split with her, to relieve her guilt,” he says. “You know you want it.”
“Once upon a time, that would have been the way to address a different topic.”
“Yes. But my feelings are the same.”
“You still have passionate feelings for cobbler?”
“Very funny. No, for you.”
I’m a little confused.“
Values, goals, social status, and the ultimate influences on choice and consequences: it’s what Almost Royalty is all about – and the addition of serious reflective tones that lead to the protagonist’s ultimate revelations is what sets this book well apart from either romance or comedy genres, making it something greater than the sum of these parts, and a recommendation not for romance or comedy genre readers, but for those who consider these devices as side dishes to a more satisfying main course.
Check out Almost Royalty on Amazon today!