Once again I’m late to the game. It wasn’t until I saw Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston on a number of Cannonballer’s favorite books of 2019 that I even heard of it. Then I also found it on NPR’s Best Books of 2019, and I knew I needed to read it ASAP. I was not disappointed. Red, White & Royal Blue was well-written, fun, entertaining, and very sweet. I read it in only a couple of days, and it was a great distraction from reality.
Alex’s mother is the President of the United States. Alex currently lives at home (the White House) while he finishes up college. He has a loving sister and one close friend (the daughter of the Vice President, whom he used to date), but he otherwise keeps to himself. Alex has disliked the British Prince Henry since he ran into him at a tournament when he was eighteen. So when Alex finds himself very drunk at Harry’s brother’s royal wedding, things escalate, and they both fall into the royal wedding cake. PR handlers scramble on both sides of the ocean to stem the scandal, and they decide to set up some photo ops in order to show that Alex and Henry are actually very good friends.
Alex agrees to this charade because his mom is running for re-election and he doesn’t want his actions to hurt her chances. The thing is, once he starts spending time with Henry, he gets to know him, and realizes his first impressions were incorrect. The two get along pretty well, and they start texting. And then they start talking on the phone. In many ways, they understand each other very well. And then one night, Henry can’t suppress his feelings anymore. The relationship develops from there. Alex has to figure out his own sexuality. He is also worried about disrupting his mother’s campaign. However, the major obstacle is the fusty British family, and the expectations Henry is expected to fulfill. The book continues on from there.
I really enjoyed the characters in this novel, but I especially loved Alex and Henry. They felt like real, distinct people who had more than enough in common for a real connection. Both nerds at heart, they created love letters for each other from the words of famous historical figures, which fit both the book and their relationship perfectly. When bad things happen later in the book, I was so connected to the characters that I really felt for them. I might have cried. I’m so glad I read this book. Even writing this review (so long after I read it because I’m way behind) makes me want to read it again.
The book ends with election night. This was slightly traumatizing because it was so reminiscent of the 2016 election. Fortunately a fairy tale win in Texas allows for a happy ending on all fronts, and I could finish the last couple of pages while enjoying the wish fulfillment for a moment.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.