Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – Review

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?

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This book has to be the greatest romance ever written. Largely that is a matter of opinion, but it touched my heart in such a way that I will never forget it. It had some of my favorite story telling devices: emails laden with excerpts from letters between lovers in history, podcasts with their eyes trained on the White House, and text messages that help us feel closer to these rich, diverse characters. We had enemies-to-lovers, fake bro-mance to real romance, and a tale about finding your Prince Charming that knocked me off my feet more than any Disney movie ever could.

We find ourselves in an alternate future where 2016 ended the way I had hoped it would. The results were called on my birthday that year, and it’s the worst one I’ve ever had. Just the world that Casey built for us made my heart ache and let me escape this Hollywood nightmare that we find ourselves in. If I could pull a page from Blue’s Clues’ Steve and Blue Skadoo into a novel; this one would be it. They got their Madam President, and she was not only a divorcee but also mother to two Mexican-American children. Those are two things that could be so polarizing to certain groups in our country, and she is nothing if not stronger for it. The country loves the First Family, and the nation is one that can be trusted and loved again.

However, the next election is drawing near, and emotions are at an all time high. This is where we find Alex, who is campaigning for his mother’s reelection. Due to an accident at a royal event, Alex is forced to spend time with Henry; the Prince of England. Throughout this unwanted set up, the two fall in love and are now faced with the consequences of their shared feelings. I really don’t want to spoil the book, so I won’t get into much detail. However, their love and escalation towards it took my breath away. What may have stolen my heart even more though was the reactions of their loved ones.

We have come a long way since the beginning of humanity, and though we still have a long way to go, I’m so proud of where we are. Casey’s work reflects this in that there is an outpouring of support from friends, families, and outsiders alike. Of course, there is always opposition, and maybe there always will be. In spite of this, love is universal, love is undeniable, and love always finds a way. I include all love in this, not just romantic love. Once these characters know that this connection between Alex and Henry is real, they stop at nothing to find a way to bring them together; which is an Herculean feat. There are appearances to keep up on both sides of this coin: Henry being the spare to the throne and Alex being the FSOTUS. I was relieved to know they fought their way out of the woods and won against all odds.

Casey says in her acknowledgements that she hopes that when you’ve finished the book that she leaves you with the spark and joy that you need. I think she does that and more. It’s not just a story about loving who you love and being honest with yourself, even though that is a remarkably brave and wonderful thing. It’s also a battle cry to never give up. It’s a rallying cry to vote; to make your voice heard. We can change the world and make it like this one. We can have our female president, we can lift up our LGBTQ+ community, and we can stand with our POC and make sure their voices are heard and they are given the respect and power they deserve.

If any of you are looking for a kick in the pants to bring you out of the funk that has surround the US since 2016, please pick up this book. I feel refreshed and recharged, and I’m ready to fucking fight. My heart has had a weight lifted, and I owe it all to Alex, Henry, and Casey.

5/5 stars

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