Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

"Sometimes you just jump and hope it's not a cliff."

I'm very late to the party with this one. I've seen Red, White & Royal Blue shared by countless other bloggers and reviewers over the last year or so. I actually listened to this one with my boyfriend as we drove from Texas to California last summer. A month before, we spent several weeks touring London and the surrounding area with his family. When we returned from our trip, we longed to relive our time there. A friend recommended this one to me, and a gay romantic comedy that just so happened to feature a member of the royal family seemed like the perfect way to spend the next three days traveling halfway across the country.

Alex's life is far from normal. His mother is currently serving as the President of the United States, making Alex first son. His life is scrutinized by the press almost as much as by his mother and her team. She is mounting her reelection campaign, so her family must maintain their pristine image. Naturally, Alex puts all of this into jeopardy when he attends a royal wedding. He gets into a very public and very hostile situation with none other than Henry, Prince of England. The two have never been more than cordial to each other, but this instance pushes things over the edge. The geopolitical ramifications of their sparring force the two countries to formulate a plan for redeeming their image. For better or worse, Alex and Henry must put aside their differences and play nice for the cameras.

At first, their meticulously planned play dates are excruciating. Both Alex and Henry completely loathe each other. Spending time together, even if it is for the better of their respective countries, is unbearable. But soon, the hard shell of their rivalry begins to deteriorate. It turns out that being the children of high-profile world leaders is a unique experience that they can both relate too. Plus, there is an undeniable physical attraction between the two. Alex slowly begins to question his own sexuality. He's always dated girls, but there's something about Henry that he just can't shake. Maybe he's bisexual?

"Straight people, he thinks, probably don't spend this much time convincing themselves they're straight."

As their rivalry gives way to romance, Alex and Henry begin to grapple with what their relationship will mean for them personally, their families, and their countries. Alex obviously doesn't want his sexuality to become firing power for his mother's political adversaries, especially during a contentious presidential campaign. Henry is wrestling with the obligation of tradition that has spanned the history of his royal family. A prince marries a princess. There's not really any gray area there. So the battle wages on two fronts. They must deal with the normal growing pains of a new relationship, understanding each other's flaws and intricacies, while also managing the impending global fallout of their relationship becoming public.

I don't normally read romance novels, but there is something about Red, White & Royal Blue that just sucked me in completely. Casey McQuiston imbues this rival to romance story with the kind of heart and reality that just rang completely true to me. Yes, the situation itself may seem a little bit outrageous (I mean, what are the odds?), but she grounds the entire novel in a sense of reality that is undeniable. McQuiston takes her time building the romance, allowing her characters to grow and change in a way that made the characters all the more relatable. Alex coming to terms with his own sexuality, in particular, was portrayed in such a thoughtful and genuine way. Beyond the two main characters, McQuiston inhabits her story with a supporting cast that is equally fleshed out, bringing a further sense of reality to the narrative. As much care and detail are provided for Alex and Henry's physical relationship as their emotional one. This is the kind of representation that is vital in literature today, and I was very pleased to see it play out in such an honest and respectful way. Red, White, & Royal Blue was an absolute joy from start to finish, and I highly recommend it as a must-read.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2019, 40)

This entry was posted on Friday, May 29, 2020 and is filed under ,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

38 Responses to “Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston”

  1. What a great review! I loved reading your thoughts on this one, Ethan. Like you said, it's a bit outrageous, but it was still dealing with two people trying to navigate their feelings and figure out a new relationship (nevermind that it was sometimes on a global scale). I loved that Alex was this crazy mix of self-aware and also shockingly clueless. :)

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    1. Honestly, I really related to Alex's journey. It is not far off from my own.

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  2. I couldn't believe this was a debut story, either, and that I liked it since New Adult is iffy for me.

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    1. I didn't realize this was a debut. That makes it even better!

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  3. I love when an author lets the romance build in a natural way (instalove never really works for me); and I especially when the characters are well-drawn and feel authentic. :)

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    1. This one definitely took its time building, and it was all the better because of it.

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  4. I really like the sound of this one. Sounds like a book that I would probably enjoy.

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  5. First of all, I loved this book, but you know, this is my norm. I really enjoyed reading the thoughts of a non-romance reader, even if the reasons as to why you listened to this book were pretty sweet and romantic. The emails Alex and Henry exchanged were so lovely, and it was pleasure seeing them get their HEA. I thought all the characters were fantastic too, and am still holding out for McQuiston to write more books in this world .

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    1. I'll probably read anything she writes, but I'd love a revisit with these characters too!

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  6. !!!! I get utterly gleeful when I see someone else falling in love with this story! You have it exactly right -- it's filled with such heart and she makes something so improbable just work so well!

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    1. I'm so glad to read that you loved it too!

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  7. I have seen so many glowing reviews for this book, and I still haven't picked it up! I keep telling myself I will, but the another book gets grabbed instead. I know I'll get to it eventually, likely this year, and maybe Hoopla will get the audio. ;)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? đŸ’¬

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  8. I was looking for smth on the library page and this one came up..dunno why, but a translation! Ugh, no, I need to read the original D:

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    1. Any way you read it, you'll enjoy it, but all translations are not created equal!

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  9. I'm usually hesitant about books that are so hyped, but I've seen it everywhere as well and I've not seen ONE negative review... I think I have to add it to my TBR now! You make it sound so good <3

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    1. It is pretty hard not to fall in love with this one!

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  10. I read this book at the end of 2019 and fell in love with Alex and Henry. I thought that they journey we went on with the pair was very well done. I loved the we got to see all aspects of their relationship. Wonderful review, Ethan!

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    1. I'm glad to hear you loved this one too!

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  11. I have not read this one because rom-coms are not my thing. But, I have to admit it does look adorable, and I could probably handle the rom part if there is a lot of the com part. I have to know though, obviously Alex is fictional, but how do they address the royal family? Are they the Windsors or are we in an alternate reality where they are the Windsors but with different names? I ask because Prince Harry's real name is Henry. If so, I am quite sad. I've already lost him once to Meghan Markle and now I am going to lose him again to Alex :'(

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    1. This is definitely a fictionalized version of the family, so no parallel to real life.

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    2. I figured it would be, but I always think it is interesting how authors handle basing characters on a real life family that is still living and ruling. It is so different when one is writing historical fiction about a royal family that has long since passed from power and from life. I read 'The Royal We' a few years ago and they are alike in that vein for sure, though that was a lot less fictionalized because obviously it was about William and Kate (and the book was terrible and I hated it.)

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    3. I don't think I would like fictionalized versions of people who are still living. That's one of the reasons I passed on the very buzzy book Rodham that imagines Hillary Clinton if she had never married Bill.

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    4. omg, I just saw that a few days ago! No idea it was a thing but there is was suddenly as an ad on my Kindle. I wouldn't read it anyway, as I am not a Hillary fan, but I also think it is super gross to write about fictionalized lives of people who are still living. And why make that decision for her, as though the author has any right to? It's icky.

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    5. I may circle back to it at some point, but it is a pass for now.

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  12. I've seen nothing but good review for this one so I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!

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  13. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one. I also saw this book across the blogosphere over the past year. I'm not much of a romance reader, but this sounds like a cute read!

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    1. It was very cute. I don't really read this genre either, but I couldn't resist. I'm so happy to have read it!

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  14. I read this one last year so glad to hear you liked it.

    I liked how she wove the letters and history into the romance. I wouldn't mind reading more on the sister.

    Karen @ For What' It's Worth

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    1. The letters really helped me fall for both of them and their relationship!

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  15. I don't read many contemporary romances, usually the romances are a side dish in other genres, but you've made me curious.

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  16. I loved this book! The emails between Alex and Henry were reading gold!

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  17. It's so much fun enjoying a great book with your mate on a road trip, right? Happy to hear this was a win for you and your partner while driving to California (my home) last year! This sounds like a cute, slow burn romance and so much more. Wonderful review, Ethan!

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    1. It was pretty special to be able to share a book like that!

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