Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston || the Feeling When a Book Lives Up to the Hype

History, huh? Bet we could make some.

Publication date: May 14th, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Age group & genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: 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 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, Instragrammable 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? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Content Warning/s: sex scenes (mildly explicit), talk of anxiety, talk of loss of a loved one, homophobia (challenged), talk of racism, (minor) talk of sexual assault, a situation that could be interpreted as an outing

*I am a book depository affiliate, and will receive a small commission with no additional cost to you if you buy through my link. As I am a teen book blogger based internationally, the extra money would be a great help.

This book is the most hyped new release of the year, hands down. I remember when the rave reviews first started trickling in at the beginning of the year, which was unfortunate because my small following at the time meant that everyone else but me was able to read an arc of this book.

Luckily, I won a giveaway for any book off Book Depository, so I requested a copy of Red, White & Royal Blue. Unluckily, I live in the Philippines, so books ordered online take about a month to arrive at my house. Seeing everyone rate this book 5 stars all the while I was waiting for my copy to arrive was excruciating, but I more or less survived, and the wait was so worth it.

Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the United States’ first female president. He’s had a rivalry with Henry, Prince of Wales, for a long time, and an altercation between them at a highly broadcasted event sends both their PR teams into a panic. To solve the problem, a fake friendship is arranged between them, but this quickly turns into a real one, and then something more.

Alex’s rivalry with Henry is one-sided, and it’s mainly there for comic relief. If you’ve read this book, you’ve got to have noticed that Alex’s contempt for Henry doesn’t run deep. People who read this book expecting enemies-to-lovers will probably be disappointed. And as a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, I probably would’ve been disappointed as well, if McQuiston weren’t so skilled at building relationships!

The first 50-70 percent of this book follows Alex and Henry as they fall in love and build friendships with those around them. The last part follows the 2020 US presidential election as it comes to a head. I loved the first part because it’s where most of the fluff is concentrated. However, it was the last part that solidified my surety that I would rate this book 5 stars.

This book makes so many nods to our current socio-political issues, like racism, misogyny, homophobia, the Trump administration and so much more. Anyone who’s ever faced oppression will find their struggles represented within this book, from Zahra’s dedication to keeping a female president in the White House, to Alex, Oscar and Rafael’s struggle with being Latino politicians, to the homophobia that Alex and Henry face from the media. But inside this book’s pages, McQuiston creates a happy ending for everyone, and that hit so close to home for me. I think this is the book that’s come the closest to making me cry.

Besides the fact that this book tackles so many modern issues, it’s also steeped in millenial culture. Twitter, Instagram, and various entertainment sites are incorporated in such a realistic way. Alex and Henry’s friendship also starts because they start sending salty text messages to each other, and that’s exactly how I see two 20-something-year-olds falling in love in this day and age! Admittedly, if I weren’t a member of Gen Z, I would get the references a lot more, but this book wasn’t written for me. Millenials, this is your book.

🌿 Alexander Claremont-Diaz– Biracial (Mexican and white) First Son of the United States, member of the White House Trio, who discovers that he’s bisexual. He’s a golden boy through and through, but he sometimes acts without thinking and puts too much pressure on himself. The author also confirmed that he has ADHD!

β€œStraight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves they’re straight.”

🌿 Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor– A Prince of England, who has known that he was gay since he was a child but has to hide it. He also suffers from depression due to the early death of his father. Deserves the world.

🌿 June Claremont-Diaz– Older sister of Alex and second member of the White House Trio. A bad-ass journalist, incredible sister, and probably the most normal out of the friend group.

🌿 Nora Holleran– Bisexual and a genius with numbers. What even is her character? She’s so weird and spontaneous but in the best way possible. For context, here’s a snippet of a conversation between Nora and Henry in a group chat:

irl chaos demon: I’m going for, like, depressed lesbian poet who met a hot yoga instructor at a speakeasy who get her super into meditation and pottery, and now she’s starting a new life as a high-powered businesswoman selling her own line of hand-thrown bowls

HRH prince dickhead: Bitch, you took me there

🌿 Ellen Claremont-Diaz– The first female president of the United States, who is definitely not a perfect mother, but tries her best anyways. She’s so supportive of Alex’s sexuality, even though his relationship with Henry could possibly jeopardize her campaign. (THAT POWERPOINT THOUGH.)

Though the sex scenes in this book leave some things to the imagination, make no mistake that they’re new adult level sex scenes. Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by them, even though I usually hate reading sex scenes. The lovely Laura Herondale, who I buddy read this book with, also pointed out that the fact that the sex scenes focus less on sex, and more on what Alex and Henry are feeling, sets it apart from books that fetishize m/m couples.

Also, the emails between Alex and Henry! Reading them cleared my skin. I love that Alex and Henry sent each other quotes from the correspondence of past best friends who were probably secretly in love. For example, Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens, and Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

Overall, I adored Red, White & Royal Blue just like everybody else did. Its characters were hilarious, and their antics made me chuckle more than once. The plot was a nice blend of comedy with social commentary. And if you pick this book up, you won’t just get a romance, you’ll get a story of hope.

The Verdict: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read this book? Do you plan to? Are romances usually your thing? (They aren’t mine, but I loved this!)

Little announcement: I won’t be replying to the comments on this post or any of my other scheduled posts. I also won’t be blog hopping this week. I have extremely important exams that require all of my focus, so I’d rather not get distracted by WordPress or social media. Thanks for understanding, and I’ll get to your comments very soon! Much love!

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35 thoughts on “Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston || the Feeling When a Book Lives Up to the Hype

  1. Yes!! to!! all!! of!! this!! *hands you award for most well-written RW&RB review* I read this book about a month ago now, so while it’s still a little fresh in my mind, the details were starting to fade, but reading this brought it all back and now I’m a small pile of melting Olivia because I’m remembering just how much I loved this book.❀️😭

    I really just loved everything you said, especially about how there’s a happy ending for everyone! Not only do we get a happy ending with the characters, but the way everything turned out with the political campaign…wow. This book was so powerful but also sweet but also emotional! I’m officially rambling, but it was just stellar, and this was a stellar review.

    Best of luck with your exams this week, Caitlin! I’ll be thinking of you. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. olivia, that is like the BIGGEST award ever because there are so many amazing reviews of this book whatttttt. thank you so much 😭😭 I’m so glad my review was able to do that for you!

      no, you’re not rambling! Olivia, you’re gonna make me cry AHHHHHHH.

      thank you ❀❀❀❀❀❀ they got moved though, so I’m kinda mad that they’re not over with yet πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Every time I see someone talk about how much they loved this book it makes my heart so happy! This is definitely my favorite book of the year so far! I just love all the characters and their relationships. This is the exact kind of enemies to lovers that I ADORE where the whole hatred of a nemesis thing is actually just a cover for messy, pining, absolute obsession and infatuation. Because you get such strong emotions that just get channeled differently later on in the book!

    I enjoyed your review so much, and I’m so happy that you loved this book once you finally got your copy! And good luck on your exams! I hope they all go well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah, me too! so glad i made yours happy! it might be my fave of the year? who knows, but it has a good chance of making it to my best of the year! yes, the most amazing enemies to lovers that isn’t problematic in the slightest ❀

      thank you!!! they got moved though haha

      Like

  3. FANTASTIC REVIEW!! i’m even more excited for this book than before and i’m so glad it focuses on millennial culture. sounds right up my alley with the memes lmao.

    ace those exams, caitlin! i wish you the best of luck, swift hand in writing, and a cool head for maths problems and essays πŸ’–πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so happy that you loved this book! (I don’t know what I would’ve done if you didn’t!) And that quote from the chat basically sets the tone for the whole book lol. πŸ™‚ Good luck on your exams! (Not that you need luck, you’ll ace them!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so glad to hear that this isn’t over hyped in your opinion! I seem to agree with most of your reviews so I am starting to rely on you a little lol.
    I’m still waiting for my copy from the library, but since they share books with other public libraries in the area, my 30th slot may take a while to get back to Albany :/
    – Emma:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. IT’S LITERALLY MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR!!
    ”A Prince of England, who has known that he was gay since he was a child but has to hide it. He also suffers from depression due to the early death of his father. Deserves the world.” IM IN TEARSSSSS
    im so glad u loved this book, it also sucks that it took a MONTH for it to come to you! 😦 loved this review, you’re so eloquent!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ((GOOD LUCK FOR YOUR EXAMS YOU ARE GONNA DO AMAZING)) I need need need to read this ahh and your love of it just makes me want to more; unfortunately my local library doesn’t have a copy but I will get to it sometime. Gosh I totally relate to Book Depository taking a month to arrive lmao.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH, and I’m so happy you did too!!! I love what you added about the sex scenes — I 100% agree and I was so so confused when I got to the sex scenes and it wasn’t more explicit than your usual NA sex scene. it was much more intimate than explicit (and I’m debating whether or not people just think intimacy is explicit, or if they think intimacy between two men is explicit πŸ™ƒ). But that aside, I loved that Casey made it a really happy and hopeful ending too!! As a Texan waiting and hoping the state will become more liberal, it really meant a lot to me. And to see that among such an amazing romance between Alex and Henry was just all the more enjoyable ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ME TOO!! ohhh yes, there’s definitely a difference and you can thank Laura for that amazing insight! I never thought of them as more intimated than explicit before, but now I see it and it’s the perfect way to describe them! yes, I love what they did with the ending 😍

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you get to soon, and ahaha, that was me whilst waiting for the book to arrive :’)
      thank you so much! they got moved though, and I’m happy but a little pissed because it’s not over with yet? anyways, thanks for the incredible comment ✨

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was such a well written review! I’ve been waiting to hear your thoughts on this one and I wanted to tell you that this was probably the most descriptive review that I (personally) have read for this book! I’ve seen lots and lots of readers loving this but knew very little about what the story was actually about (beyond the synopsis). I especially liked your breakdown of the characters and am now super excited for Nora’s character. I also love that you talked about how the sex scenes avoided fetishizing m/m relationships/sex because, even though I love LGBTQ+ literature, that is a definite issue a lot of books face. I hate that it took so long to get to you but I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I can’t wait to read this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brittany!! this comment 😭😭 seriously?? I’ve read so many amazing and heartfelt reviews of this book! that is such a compliment can I put it on my resume?? the quote i shared is basically her and the book in a nutshell, so if you liked it, you’re probably gonna love the book! it really is, but I’m so glad that Laura pointed that out. it’s just another reason to love this book. Thank you!! the wait was really worth it though πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, seriously! This was my favorite review of this book so far! I’m sure there are definitely some well though out and nicely written reviews of it in existence, but this most certainly belongs among them!! You can definitely put it on your resume πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Now I’m soooo excited to finally read this!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my lordy lord, as soon as I have sufficient funds again I will be getting a copy, stat!! I loved your review – most people who’ve talked about it focus on the fluffy romance but it’s amazing to hear that there are so many other important issues explored as well!! 😍

    πŸ’› Ngoc

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Firstly I hope your exams went well (:

    Fantastic review. I really need to read this sometime as I literally do see it everywhere and it sounds intriguing. I’m glad you finally managed to get a copy of it and that it lived up to the hype.

    Liked by 1 person

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