My Uncle is my designated family reading buddy. At 65, he is a real pop-culture marvel and I am always in awe of his “cool factor.” He’s on level 1800 on Candy Crush, watched GOT and Schitt’s Creek twice before I even started binging, knows every Broadway Show cast and director line-up, and yelled at me when I didn’t know who Ruth Ginsberg was.
Anyway, he gave me a book last month and after reading two mystery books back to back, I was eager to devour something a little bit lighter. I unwrapped his beautifully mailed package and a bright pink paperback fell into my hands. It looked like a cheesy Rom read, but I was intrigued: It had gotten my Uncle’s stamp of approval, after all.
I began and completed “Red, White, & Royal Blue,” by Casey McQuiston, in the same day, could not peel myself away from its pages. This quirky, entertaining LGBT love story stole my heart and I am disappointed that Alex and Henry aren’t the political faces of the future IRL.
Alex Claremont-Diaz is the first son of the President of the United States, a smart, handsome charismatic emerging leader, studying to follow in his parent’s political footsteps. His father, Oscar Diaz, is the Senator of California, and his mother, Ellen Claremont, was the winner in the 2016 election after Barack Obama. In the story, Ellen is up for round two in the year 2020, and Alex and his sister June are aiding in the campaign.
It is true that all press isn’t good press, and when Alex makes headlines by exposing his longstanding rivalry with the prince across the pond, His Royal Highness Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor, a publicity stunt is crafted to showcase that the blunder was all in good fun, that the two are actually friends.
Until forged friendship leads to more.
Hostility dissolves as Alex and Henry spend more time together, quickly learning that first impressions were misguided. Henry openly admits that he is gay, and after a surprise kiss, the two enter new territory as both frenemies and secret lovers. Alex and Henry’s frequent engagements solidify friendly bonds in the media, but behind closed doors, things get hot and heavy. As mutual attraction progresses into something deeper, a lot more is suddenly at stake- not only a campaign, but reputations, and two sensitive hearts, eager to love but deeply guarded in their own ways.
This book was truly fun to read, and I love the premise of it, that Casey came up with the fictional tale as an amusing form of escapism from the 2016 elections. The relationship between Henry and Alex was multi-dimensional: Sweet, sexy, playful, and quick-witted. From their emails to each other to their mischievous one- liners, I fell in love with this couple and will now be daydreaming about invitations to their lake house getaways and extravagant parties and club nights.
FINAL SCORE: 4.2 “Red, White, & Royal Blue” received a lot of praise: The novel was included in the New York Times Bestseller List in June 2019 and won a 2020 Alex Award, in addition to the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards for ‘Best Romance’ and ‘Best Debut.’ I tend to agree with the hype and hope that we see more of these characters, or at least more from the author. It looks like I might be getting my wish: According to Wikipedia, in April 2019, it was reported that Amazon Studios had won an auction to the film rights of “Red, White, & Royal Blue,” which would be produced by Berlanti Productions. McQuiston said that she was “blown away” by the response to the novel and has discussed the potential for a sequel. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
BEST FOR: All types of readers. The writing is well-crafted, fun and witty, yet astute. I think that I wore a stupid grin on my face for three-fours of the book, entertained by Alex’s cunning quips and Henry’s polished retorts. While the dialogue was especially enjoyable, I will say that all “Red, White, & Royal Blue” characters were rich with personality. Major and minor plotlines were well thought- out and unique.
NOT GOOD FOR: I mentioned above that three-fourths of the book was spent grinning from ear to ear, but there was some blushing involved as well. This book does have some racy scenes in it, so I wouldn’t recommend it to all YA fiction lovers. I’m no prude, but woot! Alex and Henry sure had an electric connection.
As you know, I always jump into GoodReads reviews to get different perspectives on what there is to love and loathe about the titles at hand. I saw some comments on it being too political and Wikipedia echoed sentiments that the plot was not necessarily realistic. I think that as long as you know what you are diving into, the book is perfect from start to finish.
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE/ SUPERLATIVE: Alex, Nora, June, Pez, and Henry would be dubbed, “The Fab Five.” What a vivacious, intelligent, free spirited posse!
** Want to see what I’m reading next? Find me on GoodReads and join the 2020 challenge with me! https://www.goodreads.com/addingpunctuation **
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