Goodreads: Red, White & Royal Blue
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
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?
Coming at you hot with an unpopular opinion. Please don’t come for me! We all have different reading experiences, and honestly, I’m just as bummed about it as you probably are!
This is another one of those books this year that has received an insane amount of hype and I got so excited when I came across the last copy at the bookstore two weeks ago that I (obvi) immediately snatched it up. Oh friends, I’m really torn up about how I feel about this book… Did I hate it? No… Did I love it as much as 99.9% of the rest of the book community did? Also, no. I wanted to love this book so much and I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t. When I thought I’d be zipping through and finishing this in basically one day, I ended up finding it a much slower read than I anticipated. I struggled with the characters and a bit of the politics too (although I surprised myself with how much I know about American politics compared to politics in my ‘home’ country). Though the big turning point for me was really in the last 30% of the book and it made a huge difference in how I felt about the story in the end.
I want to keep this as straightforward as possible so I’m going to focus on what my likes and dislikes are. Starting off first with the dislikes because I want to end my review on a brighter note!
What I didn’t like about it:
I really wished that we had more than just Alex’s POV. I think that the book would’ve been much more enjoyable, and also worth the 450+ pages, if there was more than one perspective. Especially considering that Alex was so far from my favorite character. He was infuriating, childish and annoying. He was also incredibly over the top. I just couldn’t get past Alex’s attitude and it got to me a lot more as the book went on, especially in comparison to Henry’s person.
Although honestly, I thought the majority of the characters were over the top. I felt like there was drama just to make drama sometimes and I actually read a lot of the dialogue as if they were shouting at each others’ faces because their tones were just SO LOUD. Also, I’m sorry but, do people really say “shut up” all the time for everything? Is that really how people talk? Everyone, including the president, came off as just way too much 90% of the time.
How I feel about the characters greatly influences how I feel about a book and unfortunately, for the majority of RW&RB, my feelings were pretty negative. Although McQuiston’s writing style is pretty straightforward and easy to read, it didn’t help that I found the pacing very erratic and the story jumped around a lot. I usually don’t mind text messages and emails thrown into the writing mix too, and while I didn’t mind the emails, the text messages were just confusing. This didn’t add anything to story and it could’ve be done without. Sorry to say it, I thought the book was too long for what it was. A lot could’ve been cut out and I don’t think anything crucial would’ve been missed. 🤷🏻♀️
What I liked about it:
The romance between Alex and Henry was wow. Like, WOW, I was not expecting that heat between them, and their chemistry was off the charts, honey! Towards the latter half of the book, so many beautifully written words were exchanged between them that made my heart swell, my throat close up, and my eyes water. There was so much sweet tenderness between these two and these exchanges were pretty much the only times I found myself genuinely liking Alex. Also, their banter was brilliant! I found myself unable to contain my laughter so many times while reading this book. The many quips were also just too good!
“The next slide is titled: ‘Exploring your sexuality: Healthy, but does it have to be with the Prince of England?’ She apologizes for not having time to come up with better titles. Alex actively wishes for the sweet release of death.”
I loved Prince Henry. Hands down, he was my favorite character and half the time I found myself wanting to bundle him up and keep him safe from the nastiness in this world. I also really liked a few side characters like Nora, Pez and Bea. They were quirky, hilarious and surprisingly strong pillars of support. They were also so unapologetically themselves.
This book also raises a lot of important topics that are prominent in today’s social dialogue and agenda. Sexual identity, race, and inequality are just some of the big issues this book covers. And honestly, even though the ending is predictably fairytale-esque and sappy, it also left me feeling so lifted, happy and light. Reading this book did leave me with a feeling of hopefulness and I think that’s one of the best things about it. The interactions in this book are so open and all of the people in Alex’s life are so supportive of his coming out (in fact, it seems that a lot of people suspected or “knew” about him before even he knew about him). It was a really positive discussion surrounding LGBTQIA+ issues, about not having to hide who you are and be vilified for it, and while maybe we’re not to that level yet, I have no doubt that the younger and future generations will be able to take the important steps to creating platforms for openness and discussion. I really wonder if or when that’ll ever happen in Indonesia and it makes me a little sad that there’s an even longer way to go for LGBTQIA+ people here to find a place where they will feel loved and accepted for who they are.
To round all this up, I basically wanted to share the quotes that gave me so much life and made me feel everything! Some of the romance and lines were super cheesy but it still managed to make my heart melt. Feast your eyes on the goo:
“I thought, this is the most incredible thing I have ever seen, and I had better keep it a safe distance away from me. I thought, if someone like that ever loved me, it would set me on fire. And then I was a careless fool, and I fell in love with you anyway. 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 even occurred to me that a mangled-up, locked-up person like me could be happy, I loved you. And then, inexplicably, you had the absolute audacity to love me back. Can you believe it? Sometimes, even now, I still can’t.”
“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”
“To every person in search of somewhere to belong who happened to pick up this book, I hope you found a place in here, even if just for a few pages. You are loved. I wrote this for you. Keep fighting, keep making history, keep looking after one another.”
So, that’s it. I hope that I wasn’t too harsh or bruised anyone’s feelings with this review. If it isn’t clear, I didn’t hate this book, I just didn’t love it like everyone else. It was just okay for me, and while I was really looking forward to loving it, I’m okay with that. If I could just read the latter half, especially the last 30% of the novel, then I would’ve given it a higher rating. If it was just the email exchanges and only the romantic bits of this book, I would’ve rated it even higher still. The sweet romance was undoubtedly my favorite part of this book–it was heart meltingly sweet– and if there was one reason that I’d remember this book it’d be for the amazing romantic quotes. 😍
Have you read Red, White & Royal Blue? Anyone feel the way I felt about it? (Lol 😂 ) Leave a comment down below and let’s chat!