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“Good God,” Erik thought. “The Prince of Wales is gay.”
Charles lives in the unceasing glare of the public spotlight, yet keeps his sexual orientation a closely held secret, afraid he could lose his throne and force his deeply troubled younger sister into a role that would crush her. Erik, journalist and world traveler, has been a loner most of his life; he has little patience for closet cases. But a chance meeting in Kenya brings these two opposites together and sets in motion a love affair that will challenge the British monarchy — and their most deeply held beliefs about who they are, and who they should be.
Fanfiction or not, Anarchy in the UK is an excellent contemporary romance novel, and since it’s very AU from its original fandom (X-Men First Class, and no, no one has mutant powers in this story), it can be read pretty easily as an original novel about a closeted prince who gets entangled with a handsome journalist, and against both their better judgments about what they should be doing, they decide to try to make things work.
Charles Xavier here is not Professor X, but the Prince of Wales and next in line to be king. Unbeknownst to most of world (and his family), his “relationship” with longtime friend Moira is fake, and is covering up for the fact that he’s gay. The one problem is that he knows he’s keeping Moira back from achieving her own happiness, but with no legal way for there to be a gay King of England, he has to decide what to do—live honestly or live forever and passionlessly in the closet.
Erik here is not anti-hero/villain Magneto, but is an economics reporter who blissfully lives without ties to others, a path he chose after a bad relationship from his youth. Things change though one hot afternoon in Kenya when a rain-soaked Prince of Wales stops by his bungalow for some respite, and while they wait out the downpour, they play a game of chess, and Erik figures out Charles’ secret.
Anarchy in the UK is a little similar to the Merlin modern AU fanfic The Student Prince—both deal with a gay prince reconciling his relationship with the one he truly loves, and then facing the music. The biggest difference between the two, besides Anarchy has no magic, is that it’s very much set in a world of adults, whereas Student Prince is set during university studies. That, and where the Student Prince ends, Anarchy continues the story—what would happen if…? What does that mean for the monarchy? With the media vultures always clawing for a new angle? (And boy—does the future king’s hot boyfriend become a story), and what does it mean for a future relationship, especially for someone like Erik who has cherished his freedom, or for Charles, who never thought he would have a chance at real love?
At over 162,000 words, it is a long, but glorious, charming, and wonderfully romantic love story. I’m not a fan of most “contemporary” romances, but this one felt refreshingly different. There are conflicts, misunderstandings, make-up sex, and more, but what I really enjoyed about it was that most of the conflicts were not drawn out—things happen, and things are dealt with, and it’s a refreshing read when characters act rational and don’t rely on acting stupid for one moment in order for the plot to progress. Here, characters act as they would most likely act, sometimes fearful or cautious, but other times, fiercely grasping at the happiness they so very much want.
Whether or not you’re picturing James McAvoy as Charles and Michael Fassbender as Erik here (and yum to both of them), I think it’s a great read and one that can be enjoyed even if you have no inkling of its X-Men roots. Definitely recommended for those who are looking for a nice long love story. (I won’t lie—I cried a little while reading it.)
For me, it was no contest that this long fanfic novel was one of the best books I read last year.
The cover art here was created by: avictoriangirl
Title: Anarchy in the UK
Fandom: X-Men First Class / ErikCharles
Publication Date: Feb. 2013 – May, 2013
Length: 162,328 words
Purchase links: Free at Archive of our Own