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
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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!
“Straight 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!