As you might notice, this is in a different format than my regular reviews. That is because this review is not for a YA novel. For the past couple years I have been delving into the romance genre. While I've kept it separate until now, I want to start incorporating it into the blog.
Any time I post a review of a romance novel, it will be clearly marked as such. Ones I really like or think have crossover appeal (such as this one) will have full reviews posted. I am also planning to do Romance Round-Ups where a post multiple smaller reviews. Romance reviews will be less formal than my regular reviews, as most of the book is usually the characters and the romance.
Also, as a general policy, most or all of the romance books I review I recommend for ages 18+ or if you already read romance. This will be restated at the beginning of future reviews as well.
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release: May 14, 2019
Review: 5 Stars
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince 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?
You Can Find it At:
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This book has killed me. It's given me my first book hangover in ages and I am barely hanging on. The swoons. The feels. The romance. The hope. While first and foremost this is the love story of Alex and Henry, due to their lives it also have a lot of political themes. For me, this book was what the 2016 election and onward could have been. This takes place in an alternate reality that, while still has much of the suck associated with humanity, isn't quite as sucky. The political players are different, but some of the messages really struck home. I also liked some of the nods to our current political mess, often seemingly throwaway lines from Alex or Henry.
I loved Alex's mom, Ellen AKA the President of the United States. She is kick butt and all-around awesome while still supporting her family through difficult times. I also loved his sister June. She is a great, well-rounded character and I really hope she gets her own story.
I won't give spoilers, but the end of the book nearly did me in. I was almost definitely crying reading the last ten pages or so. I am pretty involved in politics, and losing the chance at a female president in 2016 was a really big letdown for me - especially as it was my first time really being involved in politics (despite being too young to vote). While the ending made me sad for what we've missed, it also restored some of my lost hope. This is perfect timing, coming out as 2020 elections are starting up, and I hope Red, White, and Royal Blue is able to restore some lost hope for other women out there reading this as well.
The only thing that bothered me was simply a personal pet peeve. I hate the tense/POV combo of third person present for some reason. Third person past, and first person past/present are all good, but third person present rubs me the wrong way. So while I did get used to it because the book was so good, it did still throw me out of the story at times.
I want to talk a bit about Alex and Henry. At first they seem like total opposites, but the more they get to know each other, the more they find they have in common. While Alex is more of a risk-taking goofball and Henry is more formal, they share some really core values. Both want to do their best to help the world, and they want to use their positions in it for good. One thing I loved about Alex is that he doesn't realize he's bisexual at the beginning of the book. It's only partway through that he suddenly has an identity crisis. The chapter where he comes to realize his sexual identity is easily one of my favorites. I loved how her freaked out and second guessed until he finally settles in what he knows feels right.
I could go on and on about this book. It really is that amazing. I've been trying to focus on schoolwork, but it just keeps popping back up in my mind. There is an almost 100% chance that I'll be rereading within the next few weeks just to feel all the feels again.
Casey McQuiston grew up in the swamps of Southern Louisiana, where she cultivated an abiding love for honey butter biscuits and stories with big, beating hearts. She studied journalism and worked in magazine publishing for years before returning to her first love: joyous, offbeat romantic comedies and escapist fiction. She now lives in the mountains of Fort Collins, Colorado, with a collection of caftans and her poodle mix, Pepper.
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