Well this book has literally taken over everything in book related social media. And we all know I get in the mood for romance over the summer. So, basically, we should all not be surprised that I added myself to the library waitlist for this one ASAP (as in, even prior to its actual publication date). Apparently, I was not the only person to do that though, so it took me until now to get my hands on it. And the wait caused me to shove everything else on my TBR out of the way in order to read it immediately as soon as I got the email that the hold was ready.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alex is the First Son of the United States. Henry is a Prince of England. And they are sworn enemies. Then, a Royal Wedding cake-related incident forces the two of them to make nice in public (and on social media), for reasons of international relations. With time, their fake friendship starts to morph into a real friendship…and then to something much, much deeper. And much more dangerous. A romance between the two of them could potentially be even more damaging than the rivalry was. And they are both forced to decide, fully, what their feelings really are and, if it’s true love, can they find the courage to openly share it with the world.
HOLY EVER-LOVING, FULL-ON SWOON, this contemporary m/m romance was EVERYTHING. I went into this expecting a light, pretty cheesy, summer-type love story. And I would have been happy with that. What I actually got was so much more and it straight blew my mind. I absolutely and completely and 100% support the hype for this book. I actually could not put it down (I straight up cancelled plans to finish it) and I’ve already reread like half of it (and it’s only been in my possession for 4 full days). Alex and Henry are the best – perfect complements for each other in personality and romantically. I love their banter with they’re joking and I love their sentiments when they’re being honest. I love the entire enemies-to-lovers trope situation anyways, but I seriously have never read it done so well as it is here. It was sweet and snarky, sometimes laugh out loud funny, sometimes heart-wrenchingly tender, and definitely with moments so phenomenally steamy that I was glad I wasn’t reading in public (things got tingly). Oh my goodness, just, my heart, my feels, my everything is SO into this book!
“It feels steady and huge as the ground under their feet, as encompassing of every part of him, as likely to knock the wind out of his lungs.”
In somewhat less gushy/more insightful commentary, I want to live in this alternative present day, where a female president won the election post-Obama and is completely supportive of her son’s sexuality (bisexual rep, yes!) and self-discoveries. (Side note, this is the first male bi character I’ve ever read – cool.) I also love also the friends/siblings that are support characters here. They are all really awesome and inspiring in their own ways (like, the Vice President’s daughter Nora is a queer female math/stat genius and I want a spin-off novel about her!). Plus, there was just enough political intrigue/detail thrown in to ground the story and give it context, without being too much that I was bored/wanted to skim over it (and I’m not particularly inclined to enjoy reading about the particulars of campaigns and elections, so that’s big for me). And I truly appreciated that, once Alex and Henry decided they were going to be together, for real, they stuck with it. I mean, I know that all romances need some drama thrown in, but I’m glad this drama came from outside the two (their political/diplomatic situations) and not from within. I love that at no point was I truly worried about the ending in regards to their decision(s) with each other…I was sure that they’d stand together against whatever came their way. And even if the ending had them apart for reasons outside their control (I mean, I obviously was hoping that didn’t happen), at least I’d know it wasn’t because they lost faith/trust in each other. That kind of consistency is hella sexy and I’m glad this story had it (and it’s especially believable because our MCs are 22 and 24? – their age lends gravity to the situation, makes it easier for readers of any age to buy into the full depth, and still allows for the following-instincts-without-too-much-questioning angle, if you will, for added narrative drama/indecisiveness). Relatedly, I loved the quotes they used in the emails back and forth to each other – be still my fluttering heart! And I loved how much their individual voices came through in every interaction, public or private or serious or light-hearted, they were true to themselves (for better or worse). Along these lines, and the last thing I want to mention, is McQuiston’s writing…which is superb. It’s got a great internal monologue type flow, one that rings very true to Alex (our narrator), in a mature but still youthful way. A very comfortable and genuine voice. It was easy to race through (which is perfect because, as I mentioned, this was un-put-downable).
“I love him on purpose.”
Bottom line, I plan to recommend this book to everyone. I finished it feeling so full of love and hope and positivity because, even with all the challenges thrown at Alex and Henry, their love really could, as the back of the book said “save the world.” And with everything going on in our world right now, it’s actually impossible to put a price on anything that can fill you up with that kind of unbridled joy. I’ve already ordered my own copy of the book, so I can revisit it any time I need a pick me up. And I can tell you, for sure, that this makes my list of favorite books of the year. I know there’s six months left, but I don’t care, that’s how much I loved it.