Having been in isolation for more than 60 days now (weird timing with having a newborn), I’m wanting to get through some of the hundreds of books in my TBR pile that I own instead of getting ARCs off NetGalley. I’m still not reading as much as I could be because I’m so dang tired, so I’m looking for books that are light, fun and that will suck me in so I don’t fall asleep. I’d been hearing nothing but great things about Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston for months now, and I knew it would be the perfect heartwarming-without-crying story I was looking for. And I was right!
What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? How can we learn to let our true colors shine through? How will history remember you?
This was such a fun read! The world was a blast to be part of: There’s something fascinating about being a child of the First Family (and I’m saying that as a Canadian) and then you add being a royal in line for the throne? It’s like the perfect amount of realistic fantasy because, let’s face it, there are a very limited number of people who have those titles.
I liked that the whole story was from Alex’s point of view. I think if we also would have followed Henry, there would have been way too much to digest. He pops in and out when necessary (and we get backstory or filling in the plot holes through conversations, which was perfect) and we still get a good sense of his personality.
I found it a little distracting that the prince’s name was Henry (you know, Harry’s real name), so I had I hard time separating them. His brother’s name being Philip, too, threw me right off. There are hundreds of other royal names that would have been believable (Edward, David, James, etc.) that could have separated his character from the current royal family—or at least the ones that are in direct line to the throne.
Now to talk about sex. I read a fair amount of YA (or contemporary romances with characters in their early 20s) and I’ve read a few stories that feature LGBTQ people, but I’ve never read a scene where the characters get intimate before. McQuiston doesn’t get into the sordid details (and she didn’t need to; it’s not that kind of book), but it wasn’t just them kissing and then waking up together the next morning. It was refreshing.
I also loved the friendships in this story. I want a group of pals like that!
This story is romantic and heartwarming, but it has some fight to it. Is the US ready for a bisexual First Son (or a female president, for that matter)? Probably not. And we know the monarchy isn’t ready, either—sigh. But this gives me hope for the future.
“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.” —Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue
Thank you to Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash for the featured photo of the pride heart in chalk.