Every one and a while I like to remind y’all that it’s possible for me to like YA and romance. In this case, the book combined the two and I loved it!
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
My Edition: Paperback – 421 pages – 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin – ISBN: 9781250316776
Alex Claremont-Diaz finds himself cozying up to his arch-nemesis, Prince Henry of England, after the two caused a scene at Henry’s brother’s royal wedding. Alex and Henry have to play nice for the press, not only to avoid further scandal, but to keep the way smooth for Alex’s mother, whose running for her second term as U.S. President. As Alex and Henry spend time cultivating their fake friendship, they find something real starting to bloom.
My friend Chelsea adores this book and I was intrigued because every now and then I do love a good rom-com read and I’m more prone to pick up YA romance if it’s LGBT+. Chels is a doll and gifted me a copy and I finally managed to buddy read it this month with my friend Mel (who also enjoyed this). Very glad I read this, as I loved it and it was just the kind of sweet read I needed to start the year with.
I love the tone of the book, particularly the way the characters speak and act. As evidenced by these quotes:
“ ‘Sugar, I cannot express to you how much the press does not give a fuck about who started what,’ Ellen says. ‘As your mother, I can appreciate that maybe this isn’t your fault, but as the president, all I want is to have the CIA fake your death and ride the dead-kid sympathy into a second term.’ “
“ ‘Both sides need to come out of this looking good, and the only way to do that is to make it look like your little slap-right at the wedding was some homoerotic frat bro mishap, okay? So, you can hate the heir to the throne all you want, write mean poems about him in your diary, but the minute you see a camera, you act like the sun shines out of his dick, and you make it convincing.’ “
Also, this description of the Great British Bake-Off (which has become one of my favorite shows) is perfection:
“ ‘It’s just so soothing,’ Henry says. ‘Everything’s all pastel-colored and the music is so relaxing and everyone’s so lovely to another. And you learn so much about different types of biscuits, Alex. So much. When the world seems awful, such as when you’re trapped in a Great Turkey Calamity, you can put it on and vanish into biscuit land.’ “
I also loved the S T E A M Y bits. Woo! If you’re looking for some action, this book has it. Also, I think maybe this is actually New Adult because the boys are like 21+? I don’t really know. I was comfortable enough with their ages to enjoy the sexy parts, because as an adult I really don’t want to read about 16-year-old shagging, but that’s just my preference.
I also loved (yeah I guess this is how this review is going to go) that there was no Big Misunderstanding that leads to A Fight because Two People Who Love Each Other Suddenly Refuse To Communicate Like They’ve Been Doing. In this, the Conflict is realistic and you can pretty much see it coming and it gets Resolved Nicely.
I will say I found the very end, after the Resolution, to be boring. My investment ended at that point because all I cared about was the relationship between the boys and I didn’t need everything wrapped up in such a detailed bow. Something more succinct would have worked for me. But this is by no means a flaw.
If you’re looking for a cute, sassy, humorous, intercontinental gay romance to read, I would definitely recommend this. It’s also pretty politically relevant (primarily to those of us in the U.S., I assume) and my friend said she liked to think of this book as an alternate timeline to the events which occurred in 2016. McQuiston herself even commented something similar in her afterward and I quite like that idea. I wonder what alternate Millie is doing right now?