First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.
The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
Emotional abuse and neglect; Strained family relationships; Homophobia; Racism; Descriptions of sexual acts (all consensual); Grief of a lost parent; Mentions of attempted sexual assault; Description of a panic attack; Forced public outing; Descriptions of alcohol/drug use
This. Book. Hurt. Me. But in a good way. I wish I’d had more time during the semester because honestly, I would have read Red, White, & Royal Blue within just a couple of days.
Chloe, I’m so sorry I’ve kept your ARC for two, going on three months. It’s the type of book that sucks you in right away and won’t let go. It’s the type of story that you think about when you’re not reading it.
The main character, Alex Claremont-Diaz is a senior political science major at Georgetown University and a total history buff nerd and also the First Son of The United States. He’s your typical, reckless 21-year-old but he (usually) knows how to to keep it out of the spotlight. This is especially important since his mother, Ellen Claremont is running for re-election, and the 2020 race is coming up real quick. Unfortunately, a drunken confrontation at a royal wedding with the man he hates the most, Prince Henry, ends in disaster for the several-thousand-dollar cake. Alex and Henry now need to distract the press with a fake friendship to save face for themselves and the politics of their respective countries. What ensues is the trope-y romantic dramedy that we all need as a break from the trash fire that is real-world politics.
The only thing I don’t like about this book is that Casey named the love interest Prince Henry and now I can’t keep Prince Henry (fictional) and Prince Harry (very real, and very in the news right now) straight. Also, it legitimately made me cry at the end because I got so attached to these characters which was hella rude. 😭 Okay, so that’s obviously not a real criticism, but I really don’t have any? The only other thing I can say is that the flow/writing style is a bit choppy in certain scenes and took me out of the story for a moment. But I did read an ARC, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really affect the story.
I’ll admit that going into this, I was kind of worried that the politics would seem unrealistic. Or even that they’d be pushed to the back burner by the romance. But McQuiston handles the political backdrop to their story with care. I mean, a relationship between a First Child of the United States and Prince or Princess in the British monarchy would be highly political, and that’s just exacerbated by it being a same-gender couple in this case. So, the political aspect of the story is rather prevalent. Yet, it’s researched and explained really well, so people who aren’t super familiar with US or global politics can still follow along.
Even with such a wonderful set-up, you need to make sure you have lovable characters and a good story to tell, which McQuiston definitely has. I fell in love with each of the characters from Alex to Nora to Bea to Zahra to everyone in between. It’s a romance story, yes. But it’s also a story about family, future, adulting, politics, friendship, acceptance, self-discovery and so much more. Technically, Red, White, & Royal Blue is a romance. Yet, it’s also a comedy with signature millennial humor. Plus it’s a drama with so much at stake at personal and global levels. There is so much in these 400 pages that I don’t know how to condense it in this 700-word review!
One thing that I want to clarify is the list of content warnings I have listed above. It feels like there are more than I normally put. Still, I’d say this book is overall light-hearted. None of the warnings are the focus of the story, although they’re all significant components. If you’re worried or confused about any of the warnings I have listed above, feel free to contact me and I can give you more information if you need it!
Final thought: Please pre-order Red, White & Royal Blue! I know the majority of people reading this review have already heard of this book, and I promise you it’s worth the hype! So if you’ve been considering it and are in a position to pre-order, this is your sign to go to Indiebound and just do it!!