Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

SYNOPSIS:

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?

***

Genre: New Adult; Contemporary; Romance; LGBT

Page count: 421 (Paperback); 425 (Kindle Edition)

Year of publication: 2019

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5/5)

I’d be so happy right now to actually have proper words to describe this beautiful mess that this book is but I rarely do have them so this review is going to be an equally hot mess. I’m actually having a doughnut while writing this so that should do.

I don’t really read Romance in the proximity of Valentine’s Day (or any other day of the year tbh) but I don’t know what got into me this year that I’ve decided to go with this weird flow of rose petals and chocolate bonbons. Of course, I wasn’t about to do it conventionally, because I do feel repulsion towards V-Day and conventionality, so I read some fluffy LGBT Romance.

Red, White & Royal Blue is not exactly my type of read. I mean, I had doubts I’d possibly like this kind of fiction, and the synopsis didn’t quite help me in that area. But you guys (yeah, you, the ones who read it and fell in obsession with it) made me want to give it a try with your exuberance.

AND I BLOODY LOVED IT.

Really, after the first chapter I was like girl, keep reading, why the hell you stopped?

It made me feel excruciatingly giggly.

Spongebob Squarepants Laughing GIF

Now, to stick to the theme here, no me importa un carajo about politics because I don’t really get to get fascinated by it strongly enough so I lose focus extremely fast. But this book – this book is something.

The situation is truly unexpected – the First Son of the United States falls in love with one of the heirs to the throne of England. This sounds monstrous, really. I’d actually love that to happen in real life, not gonna lie.

What made it super pleasant for me is the twist of the political reality – the United States actually has a female president, which is a determined lady from Texas and she has two amazing children who happen to be half Mexican. How cool is that though?

Also, the British royal family has suffered some interestingly orchestrated changes. Cool too.

On the other hand, I found a bit of time and event inaccuracy in this that actually disturbs my OCD and keeps me awake at night.

At first I thought the action was happening by the end of 2019 and then some mumbo-jumbo happens and we’re in the middle of 2020 somehow and no one but absolutely no one gives a shit about the fact that the 2020 Olympics are happening then.

Mate, there is an email in there somewhere sent from Alex to Henry dated 8/10/20 (which in my head was totally the 8th of October, but then I remembered our fellow Americans – whom I love but still don’t get – see the date backwards and it’s actually the 10th of August) and I really can’t, that’s not even the last day of the Olympics. The whole point of this was the Olympics!

I mean, yeah, I know they met at the Rio Olympics, but still, if someone mentions one so terribly convenient, that goes terribly well with mentioning all of the others that come after (or at least the very next one).

Frustrated GIF

Anyway, those are details that would probably be discussed by me with a shrink in a private session of why am I like this. Let me show you instead another positive thing about this book that I really loved.

These characters, man. These characters are everything, I swear.

They all are so sweet and so witty and so lovely and they make you feel so warm and welcome. They’re just a bunch of nutters. It’s like you have everything you need in a handful of persons:

  • Strong mums who love their children and help them and support them no matter what;
  • Equally amazing father figures with whom I’d actually enjoy having a beer;
  • Fabulously beautiful and intelligent and daring girls who are the world’s best sisters and can easily be your best friends (and I mean all of them, June, Bea, Nora);
  • Two terribly sweet boys who are so pure and so dirty and so completely mad at the same time I’ll personally unleash hell for them if that’s what’ll make them feel safe;

(Also, teeny-tiny thingy here: I TOTALLY COULD FEEL HENRY IS A PIECES AND ALEX IS AN ARIES. I could feel it in my bones, I swear. Henry is as slightly introverted and as prone to extreme mood swings and as puppy-lovable like every Pieces I know and Alex is as stubborn and as passionate and ready to take over the world, making plans, being the centre of every event, burying himself in thousands of projects as every single Aries I know. Jesus, this is disturbingly accurate.)

  • The ultimate eccentric best friend who is like that one person you’d love to spend time with and know he’s going to force you to have a good time and you’ll love it aka Pez;
  • A gay Latino Skittles-eating guardian angel aka Rafael Luna (even his name is full of essence);
  • Zahra – the biggest fucking mood in the entire Universe;

All of the characters are part of this amazing feeling you get while reading the book, it’s something cosy and familiar and warm.

There is a certain familiarity amongst the characters that I really appreciated. The Claremont-Diaz family and the people levitating around them have reached such a level of cosiness with each other that they are not going all red-eared when they use bad words. They say is like it normal. And no one gives two fucks because it feels okay. And this is kind of cool, I guess.

I mean, I don’t support people starting swearing at each other out of affection all day every day, but I do mean to say that bad words are only bad when we allow them to be. One ought to know the bad words too in order to make a difference between them and the other ones and also, to learn how and when to use them. The Claremont-Diaz family raises the bar high. And that’s bloody brilliant.

Approve Kimiko Glenn GIF by Identity

Alas, now it’s time to have the talk though. And even though I have no idea how this goes, let me break it down to you as good as I can: IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS BOOK IS ALL ABOUT TWO BOYS FALLING IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER AND THAT THIS IS TOTALLY AMAZING AND SWEET AND FINE YOU CAN GET OUT.

That was one of the cutest, wittiest and a-bit-of-an-emotional-roller-coaster love stories I’ve read lately (because I am not really into romance, as I always state, don’t come at me with bullshit).

The love in this book is real and is tear-dropping. But still, let me warn you about some aspects.

There are loads of hook-ups and sexy-scenes in there, some more detailed, some not-so, but you still get the picture. Dead-ass serious now, to me, they are a bit cringe. But not because of a boy loving another boy. God no. To me, scenes like that, with explicit type of content, are cringe as hell in general.

A moment of truth for you: any -sexual kind of love-making is as cringe as heterosexual kind of love-making when you read about it for chapters on, fight me if I’m wrong. There are sweet moments too, but you’ll need to find them amongst everything else.

So. This was a lit book. I loved it. Even more than I thought. And while reading it, I didn’t care who fell in love with whom and everything. I actually forgot about all these stereotypes and labels the society tries to push down our throats. For moments on, there was just me, witnessing a love story unfolding. And this was fucking amazing because, being from a socially and mentally constipated country, I don’t get to see acts of freedom like that. Which scream at me with love.

Stop trying to please society, when you are part of the society. Please yourself. Break the barriers. Undo the lines. Speak free. Even though you feel like you can’t. Do it by your own terms. Defy what’s not letting you be. Be smart about it. Work around the box if you really can’t see that there’s no box. Be free. Fight for what’s yours.

Love free. Be true.

“I thought, this is the most incredible thing I have ever seen, and I had better keep it a safe distance away from me. I thought, if someone like you ever loved me, it would set me on fire. And then I was a careless fool, and I fell in love with you anyway (…). And then, inexplicably, you had the absolute audacity to love me back. Can you believe it?”

BONUS: Zahra being an absolute mood for 10 quotes straight:

  • Zahra hands him a card that says, Good job doing what was expected of you, and nearly shoves him into the punch bowl when he tries to hug her.
  • “Alex Claremont-Diaz, it is almost seven” Zahra shouts through the door. ‘You have a strategy meeting in fifteen minutes and I have a key, so I don’t care how naked you are if you don’t answer this door in the next thirty seconds, I’m coming in.”
  • Zahra is standing there with a thermos and a look on her face that says she did not get a master’s degree to babysit a fully grown adult who happens to be related to the president.
  • “Do I even want you to explain to me what the fuck is happening here?”
  • “No, nope. Don’t answer that. Don’t tell me anything.” She takes another pull of coffee. “Oh my God, did I do this?”
  • “Priority number one is damage control, not feelings.”
  • “Can you please sit down?” Zahra says after twenty minutes of watching him twitch around the cabin. “You’re giving my ulcer an ulcer.”
  • “Look, I’m only going to say this once, and if you ever repeat it I’ll have you kneecapped. (…) I’m rooting for you, okay?”. “Wait. Zahra. Oh my God. I just realised. You’re…my friend.”. “No, I’m not.”. “Zahra, you’re my mean friend.”. “Am not”.
  • “Don’t speak to me for the next six hours. I deserve a fucking nap.”
  • “I’m running on nothing but black coffee, a Wetzel’s Pretzel, and a fistful of B12. Do not even breathe wrong in my direction.”

One thought on “Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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