Red, White & Royal Blueby Casey McQuiston Published 14 May 2019
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|Publisher||St. Martin's Griffin|
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A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends...
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.
The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
"Red, White & Royal Blue" Reviews
[Edit 4/7/19] Hi, Casey's mom. The book world loves your child & their debut.
ARC provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
“Is it possible you willfully forgot about the biggest international event of the year because you don’t want to see your arch nemesis?”
I honestly do not think that any book has made me happier than Red, White & Royal Blue, ever. I laughed, I swooned, I cried, but, most importantly, I finished the last page and felt such a powerful amount of hope that transcends any amount of words that I could possibly string together for this review. This is easily the best debut novel I’ve ever read, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it ends up being my favorite book of the entire year.
First off, in this story, the characters are living in a world where the President of the United States is a democratic woman who was elected after Obama, and her 2020 reelection is quickly approaching. And I just need to take a minute to… *cries forever*! But this book really focuses on two young men, who happen to be very much in the media’s spotlight 24/7, because of the families they were born into. Oh, and one of them happens to be the First Son of the President, and up until this point he thought he was straight, that is until he finally is forced to spend time with his arch nemesis. And I’ll be damned, but this book made me simultaneously believe in love and believe in America.
➽ Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz - The First Son, who is quickly realizing that he is bisexual, but slowly coming out to those he feels safe with. Alex is also biracial (Mexican and white) and (thanks to my beautiful friend Alienor) confirmed to have ADHD!
“Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves they’re straight.”
➽ Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor - A Prince of England, who is closeted gay to many in his family (and to all media), because he constantly feels the weight of the expectations placed on him by his family and his country.
“O, fathers of my bloodline! O, ye kings of olde! Take this crown from me, bury me in my ancestral soil. If only you had known the mighty work of thine loins would be undone by a gay heir who likes it when American boys with chin dimples are mean to him.”
Alex has followed Henry and his fame long before his mother became president. But at the start of this novel, both men officially meet, but quickly get into a very messy predicament at a royal wedding they were both attending, which ends up being a PR nightmare for both countries, but especially for Alex’s mom, who is up for reelection. So, they are both kind of forced to fake a friendship to appease the press to save face. But a fake friendship quickly turns to a romance, that leaves both men questioning what they are willing to risk, while the press is always watching.
“First, you’ve been, like, Draco Malfoy–level obsessed with Henry for years—do not interrupt me—and since the royal wedding, you’ve gotten his phone number and used it not to set up any appearances but instead to long-distance flirt with him all day every day.”
I also wanted to make sure that I stated in my review that the author is queer (I believe they ID as bisexual, like Alex!) And even though Alex and Henry are obviously queer in their m/m relationship, this book also has such a beautiful and full cast of diverse side characters! I’m completely willing to give my life for June, Nora, Pez, and Bea, right this very second.
Like, I absolutely loved the side characters in this book. Also, you all know that I am always here for strong sibling relationships, and this book has that in spades! Alex’s family in general was everything to me; both of his parents being so supportive and always putting him (and his pace) first really meant a lot to me and makes me so soft just thinking about it. Seriously, this book is found family and blood family goals.
The banter and one-liners were perfection. This author completely understands what it is like to speak and text in your twenties, and they have mastered the craft to perfection. I was either cackling like a banshee or clutching my pearls with heart eyes during all of Alex and Henry’s exchanges. Also, since there is an ocean in-between these two, they correspond a lot of the time through emails, all of which added five years to my life.
Speaking of those emails, the romance in this is just truly a tier above the rest! The dynamic that Henry and Alex are forced into, and then the new dynamics they are forced to overcome, makes for something that you can’t help but root for with everything in your soul. Also, they are truly polar opposites with their personalities, but seeing them together truly feels like you are witnessing soulmates interact. I hate to say this but, your OTP could never.
And obviously because of the setup of this novel, this book does not shy away from US politics, and you should for sure know that going in. But the most tears I shed in this book was when Alex talked about what he felt like to be a biracial kid, and how America truly is a melting pot of immigrants and how that is something beautiful, and should be celebrated, not shamed and something that people consider to be a crime.
This is a book about two men, both in their early- twenties, discovering what they want for their lives and for their countries. Both for themselves and together. In a world that is cruelly unaccepting to anyone who isn’t white and straight, or who are just deemed different. They find friendship, they find love, and they find their voices. And to this Filipino American, pansexual, whose grandparents are both immigrants, who a lot of times really struggles to find their own voice, it meant the world to me. I’ll carry this book with me forever and always.
Overall, this book was just everything I’ve ever wanted. Put your library holds and preorders in now, because I know that so many readers are not only going to fall in love with this tale, but it is going to be one of their favorites for the rest of their lives. I promise you, it is truly that good, and this truly feels like a once in a lifetime book. Casey McQuiston has created something that is going to mean so much to so many readers, and this book is going to bring so much joy to our much-needed world. I’m just forever thankful that I was able to escape into it for a little while, while doing everything I can to make my country's 2020 and on just as hopeful.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content and Trigger Warnings for homophobia (always in a negative light), talk of racism in media, anxiety depiction, talk of cancer (pancreatic) in the past, talk of past loss of a loved one, talk of past drug use, talk of attempted sexual assault (very briefly) in the past from a very minor side character, and (in my opinion) outing. Also, this is a New Adult novel, so there are many sexual scenes throughout this book, even though they are fade to black for the most part!
❤ I also gush about this in my February Wrap Up on BookTube!
Buddy Read with Kerri from Kerri The Book Belle! ❤
❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!
It may only be February but I’m calling it now: this will be my #1 favorite book of the year. Possibly even of all time???? This is all I’ve ever wanted in a QUEER AS FUCK romance and my heart is soaring. Alex & Henry are the OTP of my dreams and I will never, ever be over them. Casey McQuiston is a national treasure and needs to be protected at all costs bc I want to read their queer romances for the rest of my life. God fucking bless America. Also: I would DIE for Nora
is this what real joy feels like???
I’ve been weeping for an hour and a half, that’s how good this book is. I’ll update with a full review later today when it’s not 4:30 AM and i cant breathe out of my nose bc snot and emotions.
14 hours later
Not gonna lie, I woke up, cried in the shower about this book, cried on the way home from Rosalie's vet appointment, then cried again while filming a vlog clip about how much I loved this book. I don't doubt I'll cry typing this review.
I adored this book. So. Much.
First and foremost, it's just so goddamn funny. I can often skim read humor in romance books and not even crack a grin, but I was genuinely cracking up at this book, a fact made worse by the fact that I was reading the first half of it in Barnes & Noble and people probably thought I looked crazy. Alex's dialogue with his friends and family and even the way the writing style is formatted is just so genuine and funny and modern and sarcastic and there was not a SINGLE instance in this book that I think was overdone or cheesy. This author is just masterful at crafting realistic, meaningful, but also lighthearted conversations.
Next, I loved how politics was folded into this book. Nothing was too abrupt as to be boring or info dumpy, but there were so many nods to Texan politics, which admittedly struck close to home being from Dallas. But beyond that, there's a lot of discussion about the first son and daughter being half Mexican and there was a lot about campaigning and the corruption of politicians and the reaction of a woman being president for the first time, and all of these commentaries were such a great addition to the story.
This is the type of book that makes you love every single character. From Henry and Alex to even the most minor cabinet members or White House staff, every character has a place carved out for them in this book and you were able to care about them and their conflicts without sacrificing your attnetion from Alex's main storyline. I LOVED Nora and June and Pez and Zahra and Alex's mom, the fucking president, who I did not expect to be so blunt and crass but I fell in love with instantly.
Delving into this world is equal parts comforting and horrifying. Comforting because it's the alternate universe outcome I wish we'd had in the 2016 election, so seeing how different the world could be and hearing Alex's triumph about being biracial and living in the White House made me teary. At the same time, it really confronts you with just how institutionalized homophobia is, and the portion of the book that began discussing that (~the last 100 pages) is when the tears started and didn't stop.
Alex and Henry's separate journeys with grappling with their sexuality and how to be transparent with their identities as world leaders were completely touching. This book follows Alex's perspective, and I really loved the discussion of bisexuality and questioning your sexuality, and the support system he was able to generate with his friends and family. However, this book also broke my heart in its discussion of Henry's sexuality and the acceptability of being in homosexual relationships while in a position of power, especially the leader of a country and how your people will react. Ultimately, the way Henry and Alex's sexualities found their support was SO wholesome and, shocker, made me sob. This book definitely has its cute royal romance moments, but my favorite part of it was at its heart, it's about two men growing more comfortable in their sexuality and being willing to face anybody who would question them.
I basically used up an entire sleeve of sticky tabs because this book was so hilarious, important, and touching. If you havnen't preordered this already, I highly recommend you do so.
“But the truth is, also, simply this: love is indomitable."
My heart is so entirely full, it's nearly overflowing. This book was in a word; matchless. I laughed, I loved, I cried but mostly loved every beautiful little thing that led up to the last page. Now, having finished, I wish for nothing more but to go all the way back to the beginning and start again. As readers, sometimes -very rarely- you come across a book that quintessentially becomes a mantra, a new sense of hope and a burst of something you never really knew existed.
I don't think I will ever forget this novel.
On the off chance this book hasn't already won you over...
For a glimpse on my current situation:
i'm sporting sweatpants, haven't cooked for more than 24 hours, hair's an absolute mess, feel like screaming how gay i am out the window, and completely abandoned my responsibilities.
my horoscope did not prepare me for this.
When this book is published, and readers pick it up for the first time, I'm going to be sitting and watching all the emotions unfurl and all the fan;art,fiction,girling commence. And while I sit and watch, I'm going to be so jealous of everyone that has the luxury of reading this for the first time.
It's equal parts funny and loving and clever and tragic. I made a note on my kindle at page 3 stating "this is it," because that's how much I could feel the energy of a fucking brilliant book in my hands. The camaraderie and friendship combined with rebellion and sexy banter is almost too good to be in one novel. This is quite possibly the easiest five stars I have ever given.
"So, you can hate the heir to the throne all you want, write mean poems about him in your diary, but the minute you see a camera, you act like the sun shines out of his dick, and you make it convincing.”
“Have you met Henry?” Alex says. “How am I supposed to do that? He has the personality of a cabbage.”
In more ways than one, the story behind Alex and Henry's relationship is magic. There is quite a lot of politics involved, quite a lot of drunkedness and quite a lot of soft moments that make you clutch your kindle slightly tighter.
"But he thinks about Henry, and, oh. He thinks about Henry, and something twists in his chest, like a stretch he’s been avoiding for too long."
This was an enemies to lovers romance with so much more going for it. A beautiful feeling arose throughout the book as I saw the family and the omnipresent feeling of hope through friends. Nora gave me life and made me swoon. June was someone we all need in our life, alongside Pez. Bea was the softest cinnamon role in the whole bakery and when they were all together, my heart started singing.
“Alexander, babes,” Pez says when he picks up. “How lovely for you to give your auntie Pezza a ring on this magnificent Sunday morning.” He’s smiling from what looks like the passenger seat of a luxury car, wearing a cartoonishly large sunhat and a striped pashmina."
I wish I could go up to every one that will ever have doubts about reading this book and beg them to give it a chance. Sometimes, I'm skeptical about picking up new authors - especially, when they are debuting with a genre that means so much to me. Yet, here I am, falling incredibly in love with everything this book is and will continue to be in my life.
“Never tell me the odds."
To be honest, I wasn't expecting to love Red, White & Royal Blue. I mean, this is Casey McQuiston's first book, and it's written in present tense (ugh), but love it I did. I loved it HARD.
Red, White & Royal Blue was everything I was looking for and more.
My reading experience was simply me laughing, crying, or swooning in a continuous cycle. Sometimes all three at once. It's been a long, long time since I've wanted to melt into a puddle of goo on the floor because the romance!!! Holy god, this story was the romancey-romance of your dreams.
I'm a sucker for a few things in a romance book, and this story has nearly all of them. We get a sexual awakening (can I get a halleloo?!), an enemies-to-lovers (with all the glorious damn, your face, bruising kissing that I could dream up), witty banter for daaaaaaaaaaays, and a romance with a literal (okay, fictional... but still) PRINCE OF MOTHER FORKING ENGLAND. Did Casey McQuiston worm her way into my brain and pull out my deepest fantasies?!?!?!
I wanted to take a nap inside these pages. I took pictures and screenshots of my Kindle of the uber-romantic email exchange to swoon over later. I cried and laughed like a lunatic on my couch, huddled in a prison of tea and reading of my own making. I fell asleep with the imprint of my Kindle on my face at 3 am.
Even though I don't like reading about politics or political games, even though present tense makes me feel itchy (did I mention that yet??), and even though the sex scenes are suggestive but still fade-to black I wanted to read this book FOREVER.
The dialogue is something I will remember for a long time. The humor was absolutely everything and elevated this book from good to unbelievably amazing. The feelings were so intense I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest.
Red, White & Royal Blue is worth all the hype and more. It's worth your time and your money, and it's worth it to read something so fun and heartfelt and rare that it made it's way on to my elusive favorites list. With literally thousands of romances under my belt, this one still stands out.
And nothing will matter but just we two, we two longing loves at last come together.
*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*