Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Page Count: 421
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Original Publication Date: 2019
Genre(s): New adult, Romance, Queer
Alex is the son of the first woman president of the United States. He hopes to follow in his mother’s footsteps and start a career in politics once he graduates from college. He is young, handsome, and loves seeing what the press writes about him every time he makes an appearance…except for what they write after a disastrous encounter with the Prince of Wales during a royal wedding. That was not good. Now he’s being forced to fake a friendship with Prince Henry to save his mother’s reelection campaign. Alex hates Henry—or so he thought. The more their fake friendship turns real, the more Alex starts to question his true feelings for the Prince.
Another “TikTok made me do it” read, and once again, I am not disappointed. Red, White & Royal Blue is very queer, very political, and very good. It’s told in third person POV from Alex’s perspective and is set in both the United States as well as England. You all know I adore enemies-to-lovers romances. I even like the slow-burn, painful yearning romances, which typically go hand-in-hand with the enemies-to-lovers trope. So I was a little disappointed that Alex and Henry aren’t enemies for long. I mean, they do dislike each other for many years, but that’s all told to us because it happened before the timeline of the novel. So we as readers only see these characters as enemies for a short time. Don’t get me wrong, I love them as lovers, but I would have liked to experience the “enemies” part of the trope for a bit longer.
I loved all the scenes with both Alex and Henry. I enjoyed all of their enemies moments to their frenemies moments. I thought the plot was most interesting during these chapters where their romance is budding and building. Once they hooked up, obviously I loved that, but then things got more complicated. Again, their shared chapters were great, but lots of politics stuff happens in between the romance. Politics is not my favorite topic—honestly, I was hesitant to read this book because I knew it was heavy on the politics and I’d probably find it boring. I was absolutely right: most of the chapters revolving around Alex and his career path, his mother’s reelection, &c was just filler until we could get back into the Alex/Henry dynamic. At least, that’s how it felt for me. Because again, I don’t love politics. But for me, the banter, romance, and pure love between Alex and Henry made it all worth it. Do I wish June and Nora and Pez and Bea had more background and characterization and relevance? Yeah, for sure. But I read this book for a romance between Alex and Henry, and that’s what I got. I strictly read this as a fluffy romance novel, so I enjoyed it overall.
Politics aside, RW&RB is an enjoyable queer romance. As someone who was outed before being ready and having it not go so well, it was refreshing and sweet to see families and friends (and the whole world, I guess) rally behind these two men in love. Sure, one is the son of a U.S. president and the other a Prince of Wales, but I could still relate to both men and their struggles. It’s not my favorite queer romance novel, nor is it the best, but it’s a quick, enjoyable read (if you can get past all the politics) that made me smile. I’m not sure I’ll read more of McQuiston’s work, but I’m happy to have read this novel.