book reviews

ARC Review: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+

5/5⭐️


ARC provided by Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press. The following opinions are my own.

Summoned to a royal wedding, the first family heads to England. Alex, First Son of the United States, is dreading the idea of facing his nemesis, Prince Henry. Unsurprisingly Alex promptly begins drinking to save him the pain of such a meeting and a confrontation between the two men finds them in a shoving match in which a $75,000 dollar wedding cake is decimated, the whole thing witnessed by the guests and media. In order to save face the two families have decided that they would play off the whole interaction as a mishap between friends and several meet-ups and hang out sessions are planned in which Henry and Alex will look for all the world as if they are the greatest friends. What could go wrong?

As your mother I can appreciate that maybe this isn’t your fault, but as the president, all I want is to have the CIA fake your death and ride the dead-kid sympathy into a second term.

Ellen

I was not at all prepared for this book. What I expected: A light and fluffy quick read about two hot boys getting into trouble and falling in love. What I got: An extremely funny and beautiful story of discovery, love, family, & friendship. Thats not all, of course. This book encompasses SO MUCH and gave me ALL THE FEELS.

The relationships in this book are on point whether we are talking about the familial relationships, the friendships, or the romantic ones. Casey McQuiston has a gift for writing authentic characters and dialogue. And they are also hilarious. I laughed out loud so many times throughout the reading of this book I was starting to get odd looks from strangers. Nora, the granddaughter of the Vice President, is also the best friend to Alex and his sister, June. Aggrandized in the media as The Trio, the three of them are inseparable. They each bring their strengths into the friendship and help to carry each other through good times and bad. I absolutely adored all of them but I especially loved them together. Alex and June’s mother, Ellen, is the first female president of the U.S. and is married to her second husband, Leo, who is such a wholesome and humble character but not the father of Alex and June. That title belongs to Oscar, who is also a senator and mexican. The dynamic between all parties concerned is definitely an interesting one. Growing up a biracial child with a single mother in politics was not easy. Alex suffers from anxiety and June feels as if she’s been thrown into a life that she doesn’t want. They all face these obstacles in different ways and, by supporting each other, manage as happy as a life as possible when you live in the eye of the media and can’t have a relationship without all parties involved signing an NDA. I loved this family with my whole heart. They add so much wholesome goodness to this story. 

you’re a dumbass. Love you.

ellen

Alex and Henry have such chemistry I could practically see it floating around. I am utterly in love with these sweet, beautiful boys. Watching them go from enemies to friends to lovers was an amazing journey. When this story began Alex was in denial about his sexuality and had been pretending any feelings that weren’t heterosexual away since he was a teen. He’s snarky and brash and very in-your-face but has a heart the size of Texas. Henry is a man of quiet strength and kindness who absolutely knows he’s gay and has spent his whole life pretending to be someone else for the world. When Henry let’s his careful control slip and kisses Alex at a party it throws everything in the boys’ carefully curated lives into a tailspin. Alex is forced to reconcile his feelings and admit to himself that he is bi-sexual. Henry begins to let down his guard and open himself to discovery and all the surprises that come with it. As they realize how deeply they feel for each other they must also face the risks involved in such a relationship. Their love story is powerful and important and sends a beautiful message. That it is never wrong to love someone. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what gender you are. Love can only be good and it’s impossible to see it as anything else after you’ve read this book.

When you rang me at truly shocking hours of the night, I loved you. When you kissed me in disgusting public toilets and pouted in hotel bars and made me happy in ways in which it had never occurred to me that a mangled-up, locked-up person like me could be happy, I loved you.

Prince Henry

This book represents all different walks of life. Some more prominently than others but each can be found in this book: black, mexican, biracial, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, pansexual. Some hard topics are breached such as divorce, addiction, death of a parent, absentee parenting, undocumented immigrants, interracial relationships and suppression of sexuality. 

Trigger Warnings: addiction, grief (death of a parent from cancer), divorce, racism, homophobia, sexual harassment, sexual assault (implied but not shown), sexual manipulation, anxiety, panic attacks, verbal abuse.

If you love themes of found family, fake dating, and/or enemies to lovers you will probably enjoy this book quite a bit. I only had two minor criticisms for this story. One being that I really didn’t care for all the political jargon, mostly in the first half or middle of the book. I understand that it was necessary to further the plot at times but at other times I feel it was information that could have been cut from the book and it’s absence would have made no difference at all. Which leads me to the next minor issue I had. I felt the book was longer than necessary as a whole (432 pgs), especially for a contemporary novel. I loved every word in this book and wouldn’t cut a single one other than some of the more politic-heavy narratives. I think it goes without saying that I recommend this book with my whole heart. 

Please be aware that the quotes included in this review are taken from an ARC of this book and are subject to change.

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