A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…
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?
Red, White & Royal Blue
Rating: 4.5/5 🌈
Published: 14th May 2019
Rep: Mexican-American bi mc (lgbt author), gay li with depression, female bi side characters (in polyamorous relationship), non-white side characters, trans lesbian side character
Give yourself away sometimes, sweetheart. There’s so much of you.
Galley provided by publisher
Sometimes, you read a book you’ve been anticipating for so long and it just lets you down, whether because your expectations are too high or otherwise. Other times, the book exceeds your expectations and leaves you grinning uncontrollably every time you think about it. This is one of those.
Red, White & Royal Blue is about what happens when a “rivalry” between the First Son and the Prince of Wales threatens international relations between the United States and United Kingdom. (I say “rivalry” because, well. I’m not wholly sure it’s not all in Alex’s head, but anyway.) When Alex and Henry are caught on camera fighting at the Royal Wedding, they are forced to fake a friendship to get the media off their back.
Only, what starts off as a fake friendship develops into a real one and then a relationship, conducted across continents, via email, text and the occasional trans-Atlantic flight, at first as friends with benefits, but then slowly more than that.
The storyline combines both rivals-to-friends-to-lovers and friends-with-benefits-to-lovers tropes – which are two of my favourites. But it’s less about romance – though, sure, that’s a big part – and more about Alex coming to terms with his sexuality and his place in the world and what he wants from the future (yes, as trite as that may sound). I’m struggling to find the words to describe it, but it is so heartwarming and soft and I couldn’t help smiling reading most of it (besides the parts where I was crying).
What I loved most about this book was the characters and the relationships they all had. It’s got a sort of found family trope going on, between Henry, his sister and best friend, and Alex, his sister and her best friend. And, not to mention, everyone actually communicates with each other for the most part. Yeah, there were a couple of times when there was, if not miscommunication, then just no communication, but they were sorted fairly quickly (get you a partner who’ll fly across the whole Atlantic just to get you to talk about it). And after the second one, it was all about Alex and Henry working through the problems they had together (aka my favourite thing).
Of all the characters and all the relationships, I particularly loved Henry and Alex’s. Although it’s not slowburning, it’s still so well-developed and soft and God. How do you describe how much you loved something when the feeling it gives you is indescribable? It was so heartwarming (and occasionally heartbreaking) and I really loved how they supported each other, like going to each other first to talk about their problems, and just how gentle and soft their relationship was at times. Honestly, I feel like I could go on for days about how much I adored them and yet I still have no words to properly describe it (I’m rambling. I’ll shut up now).
There were a couple of tiny (tiny) things I thought I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of. Firstly, this is a long contemporary novel (400+ pages). It’s also in present tense, which is not my favourite thing, and I was expecting more of a slowburn than there actually was. But, because I loved all of the characters so much, none of this felt like it mattered. I was fully absorbed by Alex’s story.
Anyway. I hope this review convinces you to read this book (though why you wouldn’t already be buzzing for it, who knows). All it’s done for me is make me want to reread (again).