This romance got me. Oh man. I was not ready. HAHA
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Synopsis From The Book
When his mother became President, 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 the 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, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable 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 campaign and upend two nations and begs 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? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.
Romance – Political | NA – PW |Family Death, Implied Sexual Abuse | Love, The Self, Facing the World.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I have heard so much about this book, and I decided to let myself fall for the hype and buy it. I hope it is as good as everyone says, but even if it is not, I don’t think I’ll be angry. This is the first romance I’ve read in a while, so bring it on. Bring on the drama!
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
WOWOW. The drama. The romance. The steam. Oh my. Did I mean to cry while reading this? No. Did I? Yes. Hot gingersnaps. So good! I now understand what the hype was about. Goodness. This book really had no business being so good, but now that I’ve read it. Goodness.
Alex is the 21 yr old son of the current president of the United States, Ellen Claremont. He, along with his older sister June, and older best friend Nora (daughter of the VP) are the White House Trio. Symbols and children of the American people. Alex is the biracial American boy Next door type, that oozes confidence and is adored by all. He only hates one person in the world and that is the lofty Prince Henry of England.
The two get into an altercation, where Alex falls into a table taking Henry and a $75,000 cake with them, at Henry’s brother’s wedding. The two are then put on cleanup detail and told to become fake friends to make it all blow over. Slowly but surely they become real friends. Talking to each other through text message and over the phone.
On the night of the New Year’s Eve, The White House trio have a party and Henry is invited with his best friend Percy “Pez.” At the party, Henry and Alex are close but after Alex kisses Nora (platonically, but in spirit of the new year) Henry leaves. Alex finds him and Henry kisses him. Henry then flees the country in fear of rejection from Alex, and ghosts Alex for a week.
Alex comes to realize that his is bisexual, and always has been. He thinks back to his escapades with his friend Liam in HS that was totally not just being friends and he was just daft. He also realizes that he’s cared about Henry for far longer than he ever should have. The two reconcile, after Alex pins him in a room at a state dinner for the English Embassy. From there they begin dating.
For months they hide the affair from everyone but seven people, who have to be in the know to keep it a secret. They exchange emails, go on adventures, and visit each other at every moment that they can, heightening their relationship at every turn. All the while, Alex is helping is mother for her reelection campaign. His mother finds out about him and tells him that he has to make sure that Henry is worth forever (for even if they aren’t together forever, their names will be tied together forever). He is not sure, but she takes him off the campaign.
The two still see each other, and passionately talk to one another. When summer comes, Alex invites Henry to his father’s annual cookout and Henry obliges happily. It is then that Alex realizes that he does want Henry forever, but before he can say “I love you” Henry leaves. Then Henry ghosts him again and Alex flies to England. It is here that Henry reveals that they don’t have a choice to be happy because his grandmother will never approve, but Henry wants him. They say I love you, and decide to keep going anyway.
Then news breaks of a small glance at Henry and Alex, that aren’t incriminating photos but not good. Alex pairs up with Nora and Henry with June — unhappily — to get the tabloids off their back. Then the big leak happens and not only is a photo leaked of them kissing, but of the emails between them. Suddenly they are both on information lock and the country is dealing with the crisis, weeks before the election.
Alex tells his mother that Henry is forever, and he goest to England with her permission to tell the truth. It is there that he meets with Henry’s family and they convince the queen to let the relationship be real. Instead of it being a scandal, more like their private lives were scandalized as it was “approved.” Henry’s mother is back in action, getting a kick to get back to life after living in her depression for years.
Henry and Alex are accepted. They then take photos officially for the family, have speeches, and watch as the final election roles in. Alex’s mother wins, by winning Texas (their home state) and after all is said and done, Alex takes Henry to the home he grew up in. The home that he always kept close to his heart, a heart that now too belonged to Henry.
What I Liked:
Alex; I loved his wit and charm. I completely understood his obliviousness, especially when it came to himself, based on the way he was raised and his goals in life. I found him very endearing. Him saying he hated the prince (that I knew was like, bruh reevaluate) to him hiding his glasses, to hiding how much he worked for things… I loved him and how much he became perfect by work, while acting like he didn’t have to on the outside.
Henry; I loved him as well. I think its pretty obvious that when you have to be a prince you have to be guarded at all moments, haughty almost. I’ve watched enough royal documentaries to know this (oh, also the Crown lol). I loved this secret nerd, who has closely guarded his heart from the one person he ever wanted. The boy who is still, and will always me, darkened by his father’s death. I love him.
June; Ah! June… I love her, and I love how much she cared about her family. I felt so much for her and with her throughout the book. She was amazing.
Nora; June and Alex’s best friend and genius (the supercomputer). I knew that she would help them in all too many ways. She’s brilliant. I love her too.
Pez; For what we got of him, his oozing confidence and charisma could even match Alex. I thought him hilarious.
Bea; What a sweetheart. I’m happy that Henry had someone like her as a sister.
Henry’s Other Family: Each of the other members of Henry’s family were entertaining. The Queen was Queen Mary (not Queen Elizabeth) with only one child who then had three. Its a much smaller family than the official Royal Family, but I know that it had to be changed or else the real Queen would not have approved (plus the ages would never have lined up with the real family)
Alex’s Parents; His mother, father, and step father, were all so charming in their own ways. They were dedicated to their family and I completely adored this.
Use of Politics; I really liked Alex’s interest in American politics. From him having cared about it from a young age, to how much he cares about it in the present. I also liked how well it taught US politics if they weren’t already known, which was really nice.
Use of history; We got a lot of queer history, as well as England History. Both were lovely to read. Also “history, huh?” is probably one of the best quotes because it is what they are and will become and I love it.
Mixed Media Form; We got text messages. We have emails. I like the way that these multiple media forms interwove together was nice.
Romance; Now, I don’t read many novels that have romance as the focal point, but when I do I want to be swooned. I want to feel like the main character and swept off my feet. I felt like that in this. Or rather, like I was running head long into the romance that was inevitable, and I felt my heart soar and fall with each triumph and set back. I did like the chemistry, as well as how the novel ended. Specifically, the use of emails and mushy messages to each other had my heart and I think that’s what really got me. All the quotes the two used back and forth to each other were so wonderful. I’m happy with how this romance progressed and stood its ground.
Plot and Pacing; I really liked the way that this book was paced, and where it ended. This is wonderful.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
I don’t even know! It was such a happy ending. I’m ecstatic.
“Do either of y’all know what a viscount is? … I’ve met, like, five of them, and I keep smiling politely as if I know what it means when they say it. Alex, you took comparative international governmental relational things. Whatever. What are they?”
“I think it’s that think when a vampire creates an army of crazed sex waifs and starts his own ruling body.” – pg 12
“Both sides need to come out of this looking good, and the only way to do that is to make it look like your little slap-fight at the wedding was some homoerotic frat boy mishap, okay? So, you can hate the heir to the throne all you want, write mean poems about him in your diary, but the minute you see a camera, you act like the sun shines out of his dick, and you make it convincing.” – pg 25
“That kind of love is rare, even if it was a complete disaster… Sometimes you just jump and hope it’s not a cliff.” – pg 255-256
“Do you feel forever about him?”
“Yeah I do.”
“Then, fuck it.” – pg 327