Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Published by St. Martin’s Press on May 14th, 2019
Genres: LGBTQIA, New Adult, Romance
“But the truth is, also, simply this: love is indomitable.”
ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary romances recently, and so far they’ve all been great! I might have found my new favourite genre. I love that authors are really expanding outside the typical love stories we see on screen.
Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son of the United States. Politically engaged and supportive of his mother, President Ellen Claremont, being an international socialite has its downfalls. Namely, when the press goes crazy for a confrontation with Alex’s longtime nemesis, Prince Henry, at a royal wedding that threatens American/British relations.
For major damage control, it’s decided that Alex and Henry must stage a fake friendship to help with President Claremont’s reelection campaign. But being fake friends reveals that their friendship might be covering up some deeper feelings that Alex and Henry have for each other. With this budding relationship happening, will they be able to commit to their duties as First Son and the Prince?
For a debut novel, this was incredibly polished. McQuiston created a beguiling story of romance that filled me with delight. You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you watch a great movie? That’s exactly how I felt when I read this.
McQuiston does such a great job at addressing issues of racism, gender, responsibility, and ethics in such a short book. It never comes across as preachy or an after-school special. At its core, the book is a joyful celebration of young people who want to carve out a place for themselves in a world that fails to let them do this because of their gender or their sexuality.
With novels like these, I usually find that the supporting characters are lacking in personality and are just used as props. But that wasn’t the case for Red, White & Royal Blue. Everyone was completely fleshed out and actually added value to the story.
I loved getting to know Nora and June in the context of the White House Trio, but I also knew exactly who they were as individuals. We knew June’s struggles to make a name for herself and her sadness when she felt betrayed by her brother. We weren’t just told that Nora was brilliant, we saw it for our own eyes as she handled analysis and research for the campaign with such ease.
As for Henry and Alex? I couldn’t ask for two more lovely main characters. You get a sense of their chemistry through their witty banter and I pray we get to see these two interact on screen sometime in the future. Alex is so compassionate and Henry has such a tenderness to him that you can see later on.
You just want to wrap them up in love because they’re just two men discovering what they want for their lives and their countries. Together and apart. They find friendship, love, and most importantly, they find their voices to speak up.
With any rom-com, you’re expected to suspend some disbelief. But McQuiston managed to avoid all of this. Right off the bat, she avoids the pitfalls of trying to make her characters’ lives seem more glamorous than they are. But that’s just it — their lives are glamorous and there’s no need to convince the readers. It’s smart and doesn’t come across as cringy. It’s wish fulfillment! And we don’t ever have to suspend disbelief. And that’s just a nice touch that I didn’t expect from a debut romance novel.
And by the way, McQuiston is hilarious! She does a great job of making the dialogue natural and funny. She really captured how twenty-somethings speak. The references weren’t too much (*cough* Again, But Better *cough*) and I loved that these people talk on the phone!
McQuiston actually wrote this book before and after the events of 2016. The political discussion didn’t overpower the book, but it felt like it added a layer to the novel. We understood what it meant for Ellen Claremont to be President of the United States after the election of President Trump.
I highly recommend this to people who are looking for a LGBTQIA romance and for people who are fans of the royals!