I’m so happy to start off Pride month with a Pride book and truly blessed I got to read Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue!
The story starts with young Alex heading off to England with his sister to attend a royal wedding. He finds out that Prince Henry of Wales will be there, but that doesn’t make him excited. In fact, it makes him aggravated as he found Henry to be a little full of himself and totally sold on the royal life. But when Henry and Alex are forced to be best friends due to the shenanigans taking place, Alex starts to warm up to Henry ultimately starting a cross-continental relationship so risky even Alex’s mother, current president of the US, faces scrutiny as the big presidential elections approach.
This isn’t your average romance. Yes, there’s a whole romantic theme that follows the rules of the Romance Writers of America, but it also discusses LGBTQIA issues, geo-political issues, and the politics of running for president. I felt really bad for Henry and Alex because they weren’t two boys in love and they were in the same high school. It wasn’t that they were in college. It was two boys who were very public figures and one even being royalty. I loved how McQuiston brought their relationship to fruition.
Of course there was the sneaking around and praying to God that they won’t get caught, but the fallout was way harsher than I thought it would be. I actually that felt super realistic as the world tries to dissect a young couple’s relationship. It’s already hard enough to be in a relationship in a private life, but when your life is in the public eye it becomes the center of judgment and scrutiny. I loved Henry and Alex so much that I wanted them to have a fighting chance.
I also really loved the scandal surrounding their relationship. In real life, I don’t want anyone to feel that way, but to see how it’s used and manipulated for the gains of someone else was interesting. I loved that Casey McQuiston included that despite how dark and real it feels.
The writing itself is also very sophisticated especially for a romance novel. I thought I would finish this one in a day, but it took me four days of reading to finish it. I would strongly recommend taking your time with this book because it is pretty long and pretty detailed. I loved this about the book, but I can also see a lot of folks losing their patience waiting for the author to get to the point.
Which leads me to the thing I didn’t like. I think the one big issue I had with this book is the ending. While I won’t give away what happens at the end, the ending basically covers the night of the election. THE WHOLE NIGHT. Page after page it was just waiting for the results of the election coming in from every state. I thought it was a little overwrought and too much for a romantic novel. It would make sense if the election was a bigger theme than the relationship between Henry and Alex.
As great as that was, it didn’t really lend anything extra to the story and really just made it longer. I can understand the author wanting to make the election results suspenseful, but it felt too extra. I honestly think the last 30 pages could have been written as a paragraph summing up the election results and then sharing something more about Alex and Henry’s relationship after the election.
I received a copy of this book from Booksparks for free in exchange for promotion. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.