Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry 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?
Okay, I am in the minority here and didn't enjoy this story. Now I know some of it is me, but man this book was WAY too long. Like could have cut out at least 30% of it too long. I did not enjoy the writing or the story or really anything with it so this might get ranty. Spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
I read Red, White and Royal Blue for a romance book club and I was hoping it would be a cute, fun read. One of those where the characters are adorable and I mean there is a Prince involved so I should love it! Plus I am on a big MM kick and was super excited to start reading. Others in my book club had said how cute it was, how Alex and Henry were adorable, so I did have high expectations. And right from the first page I was like wait....this is what I am reading? Alex is horrible, "hates" Henry for no good reason really except that he secretly likes him and is unaware of it. And because Henry dismissed him the first time they met. But since then he has been fine with Alex when he is around, but Alex is...I really didn't like him. He treats Henry horribly even after he figures out he likes him and they are in a relationship. I...there were a lot of red flags there for me. I am not sure why Henry would like Alex let alone deal with him. It seemed to boil down to they thought each other was hot...yeah it wasn't very good.
Then we have way too much about American politics in here. Lots of Alex doing things and the mom's reelection campaign and...well it was super boring. And didn't seem realistic, and after talking with a friend who worked in politics for years she said it wasn't. She found the political stuff annoying because things didn't work that way so...and I didn't really care about that. I didn't care about the mom's reelection and how she was doing or any of it. That and it was obviously set now, you couldn't forget that it was set right now and instead of Trump winning the last election we have our first woman president. Horray! Only...even if we were in the midst of our first woman president things wouldn't be like they are in the book. There have always been serious issues in the US, serious racism and misogyny and everything. Hatred of "others" has always been there and Trump let those people who had kept it quiet because it wasn't cool to be racist know it is okay to let it all out. He ran on a platform of hate and people loved him for it. Sure some said they voted for him because of x, y and z, but there are still plenty of people that still follow him because he says what they want to say. He lets the hate be okay. And I have been extremely angry since the election in 2016. Like so pissed because....because no one is doing anything. It is a shit show, and I know I am incredibly lucky because a) I don't actually live in the states anymore, and b) I am white so I don't have to fear that they will come after me, at least not for a long while, even if I did live there. But god there is so much wrong going on over there. I wake up to a new low every single day, a new tragedy, a new horror, and this sunshine and rainbows rose-colored glasses what could it have been like if Hilary would have won and the world was 100% different is not what I want to read. At all. I don't want this look how nice everything is and magically Texas just becomes more liberal (which btw would NEVER happen without this shitshow we have right now. Or not for a VERY long time. The ONLY reason Beto did so well against Cruz is because of Trump and all the awfulness we have right now. If we didn't have this they wouldn't go liberal. It just wouldn't happen) and everything. Ugh. We all wouldn't hold hands and sing kumbaya and live happily ever after if we had our first woman president. And reading this just pissed me off more. This everything would have been okay had Trump not won is bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. I don't want to read this fantasy land the author created where people are not at all like reality. I know I know, it is fiction and not real. Yes, but then don't work so hard to keep reminding me that this is set right now and a what if? Just make it sometime in the future when we have our first female president and things aren't rapidly going down the drain. I don't want to read this what if that would never happen even if it had happened how the author imagined. I am angry. I am pissed off every day. I don't want to read this rose-colored glasses bullshit. I want The Hunger Games. I want everything to burn to the ground! I want the evil government to be taken down. I want the people to rise up and destroy them! I don't want this. I know that maybe be just me, but it is supposed to be a what if, but it is a what if we lived in a fantasy world. Because even if 2016 turned out differently we wouldn't have this book. We wouldn't have everything is great and wonderful and everything. It just wouldn't happen.
And that last chapter, the night of the election to see if the mom wins, oh my goodness. I never thought that would end. It was so over the top not realistic and just felt so cheap and bleh. I couldn't deal with it. That firmly cemented my dislike of this story. I can't. I can't deal with this. If I want to read fantasy then I want fantasy. I don't want this. It's great if you loved the story, it's great if this makes you feel better about the state of the world, but it just pisses me off. That and the characters being so meh and I never really got to know them, Alex has huge red flags for a toxic relationship, it being way too long with way too many details that I didn't care about, it was not the book for me.
Oh I almost forgot - I absolutely hated the way Henry and others talked about Henry's dad dying. It is not a huge thing, it didn't come up that often, but when it did I hated it. He mentions at one point that memories are painful now and he has to box away the memories from his childhood because his dad isn't in them and I was like ?? Really? You never think about your dad anymore? Or anything that happened with him while he was alive? That seems very strange to me. Usually people forget the bad parts and keep the good when someone dies. Not just never thinks about them again. And then his sister says at some point how because the dad died when Henry was so young that it will always be with him and he will always have this tremendous sadness and hurt because of it and...well honestly I feel like his entire family could use some therapy or to talk to someone or something. Like it has been years since the dad died. Trust me I know how much it sucks, how painful it is, how your whole world changes overnight, but years later if you are still this messed up by it it would be good to talk to someone. You should be able to think back to memories of your dad. You shouldn't have to live with deep depression because of it. You should get some help. And the mom suddenly coming out of her depression and being present again and there for her kids? Okay, I guess in this fantasy world we are reading about that is about right.