Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

RATING: ★★★★★

History, huh?

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? Red, White and Royal Blue follows two characters: Alex Claremont-Diaz, a handsome, charismatic genius who is determined to make a life in politics and Henry, an actual British prince destined for the throne. These two characters, from the beginning of the book, are at odds with each other, leading to altercation that has detrimental effects on U.S./British relations. As a result, heads of the family and state devise a plan for damage control: stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendships grows deeper and dangerous. Red, White & Royal Blue is about love, history and finding out who you truly are in a world determined by politics, royal diplomacy and reputation.

Red, White and Royal Blue is an astonishingly beautiful novel of romance that will make your whole body smile and laugh and cry simultaneously. It’s a novel of whose core is a warm heart and it will, without fail, turn you into mush as you progress through each chapter. I found myself at times drawing out the reading process as I was absolutely unable, unwilling, to let this joyous, heart-warming incredible book go. I am without a doubt a hopeless romantic and this book brings the mushy clichés in me to the forefront.

I love the characters in this book so much. Henry deserves the world but the world doesn’t deserve him. He is someone whose body is hardened into armour, who puts on a front every time he enters public, who has been taught since he popped out the womb to respect the crown, to do EVERYTHING for the crown. He struggles against the confines of family and legacy as he desperately attempts to create a life of his own. He’s deserving of compassion, kindness and understanding and Casey McQuiston does a brilliant job of making you feel unspeakable tenderness for him.

And then there’s Alex. Alex is all fragility with a front of strength. He is strong, he is gentle and he is unstoppable when he knows what he wants. He cares, he hopes, he is full of ambition and power. Alex is the protagonist who is vibrantly brilliant, letting the reader into a perspective where you can understand both him and the characters around him and the daily problems they face. His and Henry’s journey tore my heart into tiny little pieces as his narrative let me witness his coming-of-age story, his progress and it was incredibly overwhelming, in a good way.

Even the side characters are written with depth and emotion that you grow attached to the PPO’s, to the parents, to the Super Six. I think Nora was possibly my favourite of the Super Six – she is all about analytics; she puts her ALL into her work and I found a bit of myself in her.

I think one of the best parts of this book is how while exploring a loving romance between the mains, it also deals with extremely important issues such as bisexuality, racism, gender, responsibility and ethics. Alex realises, accepts and embraces his bisexuality in his twenties and there’s acceptance from his family, from his friends. The novel succeeds in dealing with issues in a bold and confident voice – I especially liked the moment between June and Alex when she confronts him on seeing Henry and between Luna and Alex at the end. It’s a joyful celebration of people who work so hard to be who they are, to not lose their identity amongst the hatred and the bigotry and the expectations of the tabloids.

This is genuinely one of the best romance novels I’ve read in a long time that successfully melted my heart, kept me entertained, dealt with important issues while also offering hope and optimism to many readers out there who are like Alex, Henry, Nora, June… This book brought up my own feelings of want for someone to feel for me the way Alex feels for Henry, for someone to write heartfelt, poetic emails to me, to be there for me in my hardest times the way Henry and Alex are for each other. The relationship is tender, soft and joyful, bringing out the truth in one another and I crave that more than ever when I finish reading a book such as Red, White and Royal Blue.

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