I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Published May 14th 2019
Rep: bisexual, gay, biracial (latinx & white)
CW: parent death mention, outing, substence abuse mention, sexual harassment mention
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?
Here is what I thought when I requested this ARC:
I won’t get this ARC
There’s no way this is as good as all the five-star reviews say it is
I was wrong.
McQuiston made me feel so much that I went and preordered the book.
When I hear alternate history I think of scifi and of the world going to shit. Compared to the world of Red, White, and Royal Blue, we live in the dark timeline. From the first chapter, the difference to our world sets the tone for a cute, joyous romance. The world isn’t perfect, but we see a woman president who is respected, a trans woman with a successful career and a happy life with her wife, and young progressives who are included in the political world. I’m not American, but our last elections followed a similar path so reading this was a cathartic experience.
This is for fans of hate to love and other romance tropes done right. The tension build up is filled with moments that will make you laugh so hard you’ll wake up the entire neighbourhood. The change from nemesis to friends was fluid, but even then the tension kept building because McQuiston managed to keep things unsaid without using shitty miscommunication.
That takes skills.
I love all the characters and if you told me there was another book from one of their perspectives I would drop everything to read it. Alex’s friends and family form such a great support system, always ready to help each other.
My one complaint has to do with the formatting so hopefully that won’t be a problem with the final copy. In the ARC, some scene transitions were too abrupt; it was hard to tell where one scene ended and the other one began, especially when the same characters were involved. There was a similar problem with the texting sections. It wasn’t clear who was saying what.
It’s a good thing this problem didn’t affect the email sections because those were some of my favorite parts of the book. They showed how Henry really was a writer and highlighted his personality. Even without a dual perspective I was able to understand his thought process and care for him.
I don’t want to say too much about how Alex and Henry’s relationship developed, but the bi rep is fantastic. The boys’ situation with how people reacted to their sexuality could happen to any of us, except x1000 since they are public figures. As a coming out story this succeeds in that it portrays a realistic situation where not everyone reacts well, but the agony of being rejected isn’t milked for drama.
I can’t wait to have the final copy on my shelves, waiting to be read and reread and reread.