Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
I have so much to say about this weird and wonderful book.
For starters, I almost never read New Adult. NA is this weird category where it sounds like it’s just older YA but not quite full blown adult. However, 99% of NA is exclusively toxic relationships and college kids having a lot of sex. I don’t know why that has become the criteria. But it seems that way when you look at it on Goodreads.
So colour me sceptical when I pick up a NA contemporary where at least one of the characters is in college and there’s going to be a lot of sex. I might not like it.
However, like I explained in my post on reviewing bad LGBT books, sometimes I’ll pick up a book that I would absolutely not touch if it was a straight romance.
But an LGBT one? Well, you’ve twisted my arm.
So, Red, White & Royal Blue is simply put: the first son of the President of the United States and a British Prince must form a fake friendship to save international relations…only to then fall in love.
Requested. Approved. Sent to my Kindle. (Thanks St Martin’s Griffin!)
Red, White & Royal Blue does not (yet) have a British publisher. It’s only being released in the States. It’s also very clearly written by an American who did some minor research on British royalty and British culture. To American readers (who it’s clearly aimed at), this may not be a problem. But for me, the first 30% of this book was tough to read.
From the strange dialogue of the British characters to silly plot points that could have been more accurate with a quick Google, the beginning of the book is a bit of a mess for a British person. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a young person use the term ‘bloke’, but maybe the royals do in real life? I guess I will never know. But then there’s the royals themselves.
The love interest is Prince Henry. Which is already strange since the real Prince Harry is called Henry, but he’s not based off him at all. Then Prince Phillip, who is Henry’s brother, but there is a Prince Phillip in real life but he’s Prince Harry’s grandfather. Prince Henry also has a sister called Princess Beatrice. AND THERE IS A REAL PRINCESS BEATRICE.
Yes, this royal family is fictional, but having the same names as real royals was so jarring to me at first.
I think the worst things about the lack of research were things that Americans get wrong consistently in shows, movies and books. The ‘English/British’ problem that no one can seem to wrap their head around. Throughout Red, White & Royal Blue, Prince Henry is called ‘Prince of Wales’ AND ‘Prince of England’, but then Alex (our protagonist) says he loves his British accent. ‘He’s English and has a British accent’. I don’t want this post to become a geography lesson. But again, a simple search online and you would see that you physically cannot have a British accent, and England is not all of Britain.
But now let’s get to the good stuff.
Despite those 500 words discussing how hard it was to read Red White and Royal Blue, you may see that I’ve given it five stars. And that’s because after the 30% mark, this book has a beautiful romance and a very important commentary on British royalty, tradition, and homophobia within American and British politics.
I know, and after all that nonsense before hand as well. But trust me, this is a fantastic book.
Alex and Henry are the softest boys. We may only read Alex’s POV, but both boys are very nuanced, 3D characters that are truly perfect for one another. Henry feels alone, isolated and bound by tradition. Alex is thriving as the First Son and well on his way to becoming a renowned politician himself. But both leave those spaces to find something that neither expected to have too much in their lives. True love.
And while I like to roll my eyes at massive romance plots, I’m such a sucker for when it’s done right.
Red, White & Royal Blue also has this fantastic side plot surrounding the state of the White House and how Alex’s mother is going to run for a second term. Clearly a side eye at the absolute state of the American government right now, it reminded me of watching that scene in Love, Actually that mirrored the state of the British government at the time. I felt like it was directly speaking to the people involved, and it was very on the nose and powerful.
We love a powerful plot alongside a gay romance!
This review was written back in February, but I am very excited about this book’s release. I hope you enjoyed my rambly review, and I can’t wait for you all to read this book for yourselves. If you’re British, don’t let the strangeness of the beginning of the book sway how you feel about it. I urge you to read on!