Ever since Hartley Wright met Easton Royal, her life hasn’t been the same. There are enemies behind every corner and dangers beyond each door. When tragedy strikes and steals her memories, she can’t trust anyone, not even the blue-eyed boy who promises her that everything will be all right.
Because while Hartley’s memory is full of gaps, her instincts tell her Easton is dangerous. She doesn’t know if he’s the snake in the garden or her chance at salvation. The chaos he brings wherever he goes is too much to handle, the intense feelings he evokes are too confusing to unravel.
Easton wants her to remember. Hartley thinks it’s better to forget.
She might be right.
Tragedy. Treachery. Trust. Hartley has to face the facts—in this world, you can’t escape the Royals. Either you live by their rules or you die by them.
I’m so mad this is the 200th book I read this year. Of course, I have no one but myself to blame – I should’ve stopped reading this series after the first book – but it’s pretty depressing that I’m celebrating this incredible milestone with this bullshit.
There are so many red flags here. Let’s start with how, of course, Hartley would have to suffer amnesia to consider giving Easton another chance after all the shit he’s pulled. Plus, by adding amnesia into the mix, Watt could gloss over any parts about their non-relationship that would allow the reader to question whether they should be together. Let’s ignore the fact that at no point were Easton and Hartley actually dating – in fact, in Fallen Heir it was pretty clear Hartley wanted nothing to do with Easton, even as a friend. But the second she can’t remember this, suddenly she’s his girlfriend and NO ONE QUESTIONS IT.
I don’t know how this teenage drama turned into a crime thriller, but it was not a smooth transition. It felt forced – like Watt was trying to distract us from the terrible chemistry between the two main characters (because Hartley is brainwashed into being in a relationship while she has AMNESIA and everyone else in her life just happens to be more terrible than her shitty ‘boyfriend‘). The stakes shot up so fast, and this unbelievable plot became even more unrealistic. But, even with no basis in reality, it was still incredibly easy to predict what would happen.
While I would feel no guilt spoiling what happens here so that no one else has to read this nonsense, I’ll do the right thing and spoiler tag the following complaints.
Are we just going to forget that Easton and Ella hooked up but are blood-related half-siblings, not just the pretend siblings that already made this awkward and weird? But not a single comment was made on this nightmare. Let’s not even talk about the wedding that was the cherry on top of this shitshow. They’re teenagers! I don’t care that this was an attempt to round up the series – it’s actually ridiculous. Callum is legit running some weird teenage brothel or cult or something. He keeps letting all these non-related teens move in together and turning a blind eye to them all hooking up with each other. No one could claim Callum is a responsible parental figure but letting Ella and Reed get married while barely out of high school is next level irresponsible. Oh, and let’s end the book with a 14-year-old suggesting a polyamorous incestuous union with two teenagers much older than her- that’s not creepy and disgusting and wrong. Especially after Watt makes a point to note that these teenagers had gone out of their way to be nice to this child…that’s not a red flag for grooming or anything.
While I’ve never claimed The Royals series was particularly good, before Cracked Kingdom, I enjoyed the trashy, quick palate cleansers between denser, more complex books. Unfortunately, Cracked Kingdom was a step too far, and it’s making me regret even starting the series, let alone finishing it. I don’t think there are more books planned for this series, but this is the end for me – I’m finally calling it (at least three books too late).