What I hope to do, and what I hope I have done with this book by the time you’ve finished, it my dear reader, is to be a spark of joy and hope you needed.
My quotes typically come from the pages of the story, but when I came across this in the acknowledgements, I had to add it to my review. It sums up everything about the book and about summer reading. So let’s discuss one of my new favorite love stories! I’m also going to throw this up here: CW for a non-consensual outing.
Red, White, and Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston
Published Date: May 2019
Read Date: June 2019
Genre: New Adult, romance
Page Count: 423 pages
Rating: 5/5 Moose
First son Alex Claremont-Diaz cannot stand the pompous prince of England, Prince Henry. While he’s been able to…mostly hide it, when he accidentally knocks over a $75,000 wedding cake (at Prince Henry’s brother’s wedding), both the White House and the Royal Family agree that the boys should pretend to be best friends for the time being.
But what happens when friendship becomes real, and maybe something more? And what happens when your mother is running for reelection while you are in the middle of a secret relationship?
Alex Claremont-Diaz – The first son of the first female president. College student, wants to go into politics.
Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor – Prince Henry of England. Alex’s arch-nemesis.
June Claremont-Diaz – Alex’s older sister. She’s into publishing and is Alex’s best friend.
Nora Holleran – The granddaughter of the Vice President, Alex and June’s best friend, and a brilliant statistician.
President Claremont – Alex and June’s mother, the first woman president of the US. She’s getting ready to run for reelection.
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
This book is so much fun. Seriously, I will be keeping it at the very least as a book to read between the tough, heartbreaking ones. I’ll go ahead and say up front that the way this is written takes a little bit of time to get used to — it occasionally reads like someone writing a journal rather than a book in the way that it moves in time. But in a way, that really goes with how Alex, our main character, just kind of is. In the beginning he’s in such a hurry to get to the “good part” of life (being the youngest politician or whatever) that of course he’s going to skip over the small details.
Anyways, I can understand why people are not quite clicking with the structure of the book.
Hate to love tropes are one of my favorite tropes. Okay, there aren’t a ton of romance tropes that I don’t love, but there is something about the passion of that line of love and hate that is just…fun. It’s dangerous, it leads to major fights that lead to great make up sex. It can also lead to a relationship being over once the fun of the passion wears off. Or potentially, in the hands of a not as good author, as soon as the couple finally gets together, a weird personality change to make it work. (This is how I feel about so many Lizzie and Darcy retellings, but that’s a rant for another day.)
“You are”, he says, “the absolute worst idea I’ve ever had.”
Some how McQuiston walks the line of enough passion and heat from the “hate” infused into the love. Is it just sex, two twenty something year olds guys doing whatever they can to get a moment together? Or does it become something more, while still retaining the heat?
The book explores Alex and Henry’s relationship between story, texts, emails, romantic queer quotes throughout history, news articles and podcast transcripts. The emails and quoting historical figures made me swoon repeatedly. Why, why do we not still write letters and emails anymore?
“The phrase ‘see attached bibliography’ is the single sexiest thing you have ever written to me.”
I truly found this book funny. And not even the “I typed lol because you said something funny and maybe half smiled” but I actually laughed at this book. And then promptly sent scenes to people to try to convince them to read this book. For example, Alex learns that he has a great fear of turkeys in the best way possible: he decides to have the pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys stay in his bedroom. Later there is a power point by the President of the United States about exploring sexuality.
While Alex and Henry are wonderful, I absolutely adore all the side characters in this book as well. The first family is ridiculously stressful and fun. The relationships with the bodyguards and handlers are hilarious and realistic as they’re all there for each other while also trying to kill each other. Henry and Alex comes from different kinds of family, with their own sets of problems. Henry’s dad died when he was just a teenager, and it deeply hurt him and his siblings in different ways. Alex’s family lives in the limelight and has for years — even if they don’t all want to. I wish the book had given June a little bit more (SEQUEL MAYBE?!) as I feel like her issues are just not explored enough in the book. (I also want the book where she and Pez and Nora are just all happily co-existing.)
This book is more than just about romance or figuring out who you are. The fact that Alex’s mom is president isn’t just background fluff. Alex lives and breathes politics — he’s actively campaigned both as a candidate’s kid and on other democratic campaigns. It rings true with the actual political rift that American has right now. Can the first woman president, the first president who has gone through a divorce, whose ex is also in politics. The book wouldn’t be good if it did ignore all of that. And that’s not even taking into consideration the potential relationships between American and England!
I really am glad I pushed this up on my TBR for pride month. I think it covers discovering your sexuality in a way that feels real, without the typical “what happens when I tell my family” drama directly, and with the added bonus of putting it on the front of line with politics. I also couldn’t help but cast this book for the movie that I do need, so enjoy that as well!