Red, White, and Royal Blue is a political, queer, romantic comedy. Alex Claremont-Diaz is the son of President Ellen Claremont, the first woman President of the United States. His archenemy is His Royal Highness Henry, Prince of Wales, youngest grandson of Queen Mary of England. After an argument between the two at a royal wedding, Alex and Henry are forced to make public appearances together to quell the rumors they hate one another. They end up becoming friends, then lovers, and then so much more.
What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? I kept hearing amazing things about it but based on the description and cover I thought it was going to be a queer version of a Hallmark channel movie. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It isn’t syrupy sweet. It’s full of cussing and wit and political machinations.
I’m having trouble figuring out how to write everything I love about this book so here’s a list:
- The way the relationship develops and grows makes sense. There’s none of that starting out as enemies and then madly in love in the next scene nonsense. Each interaction builds on the last, taking them slowly from adversaries to friends to lovers.
- The descriptions of love and sex are so realistic. For example, Alex talking about how soft Henry’s stomach looks at the curve below his ribs and how if he doesn’t touch it in the next five minutes he will die. Or when he thinks about how much he loves watching Henry shave and do his hair in the morning because it’s a side of Henry no one else gets to see; the moment when he goes from being Henry the person to Henry the Prince of Wales.
- The sex scenes are descriptive but not to the point of being word porn. My mom loved romance novels, particularly bodice rippers and lady porn. I made the mistake of opening a few during my formative years and it was all quivering members and tongues tracing nipples with a few perfunctory lines of “I love you.” But not Red, White, and Royal Blue. McQuiston describes enough to know what’s going on but then lets the imagination take over.
- The sex scenes are really, really hot.
- It is a spark of joy in these dark political times. This is not the most important point, but it is important. As an Austinite, it warmed my cold, dead heart to see a Wendy Davis-type as President.
- This book has amazing representation. Alex refers to himself as brown (his father is from Mexico) and Henry’s best friend is black. Alex and Nora are bisexual, Henry is gay. Other characters are trans, queer, African-American, Latino. There’s a whole spectrum of races, genders, and sexualities. It’s awesome.
- Have I mentioned how romantic this book was? I was halfway in love with Alex and Henry by the end. Sometimes when I’d read Alex’s thoughts about Henry, I’d look over at my husband because it reminded me so much of how I feel for him.
Red, White, and Royal Blue is absolutely beautiful.