Book Review: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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Red, White and Royal Blue Book Review by She Reads Romance Books

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

Category: Contemporary Romance, LGBT Romance
Tags: Favorites,
MM Romance, Bisexual, Enemies to Lovers, Opposites Attract, Royalty, Politics, Texting, Tortured Hero

Rating: ★★★★★

Kindle | Paperback | Audible | Apple Books

A 5+ star MM love story that has IT ALL.

Let me just start off by saying that I LOVED this book. Like, loved, loved, loved it.

It’s one of those rare books that you keep thinking about hours, even days after reading it. You replay all your favorite parts in your mind, rehear all your favorite lines and you wish, wish, wish the author would hurry up and write another book so that you can devour it in the same manner.

Red, White & Royal Blue hooked me from the get go after reading the book cover. A love story between two males who just happen to be the Prince of England and the First Son of the United Sates. Yes, please!

I fell in love with MM romances after reading Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s HIM/US book series. I didn’t think I would find two characters whom I would love as much as Ryan and Jamie, but man have I seriously fallen for Alex and Henry. Big time.

There was so much to this story: frenemies who slowly become lovers, a frank look at American politics and a presidential race, deep, heartwarming friendships, and the personal struggles of figuring out who you really are, owning who you really are despite fear or hardship and adjusting life dreams along the way.

The Characters

We first meet Alex who is this 21 year old, manic collegiate with no filter who just exudes charisma.

He comes across as if he was simply born a politician (which he desperately wants to be) and has his own political career mapped out before he’s even graduated college.

He’s the life of the party yet he admits that not many people know the real him besides his bestie Nora and sister June, until things change with Henry.

He initially writes Henry off as a stuck up, unfeeling bore after a brush off at their initial meeting but oh how things change once the public veneer is slowly shed.

Henry – oh how I love this man.

He comes off as a complete opposite to Alex in so many ways but he is so endearing. McQuiston’s words completely bring him and all her characters to life.

You could just feel the weight of the amount of restraint that Henry carries on a daily basis. Unlike Alex’s carefree demeanor, Henry was this reserved, controlled, locked up person who dutifully hid behind his role as prince and behind his outlandish friend, Pez.

As his relationship with Alex evolved however, we see so much more to him –  his flashes of wit, the melancholy and darkness, the writer and the romantic. He is so different behind closed doors and SUCH a master of words.

Not only did I love Alex and Henry but I loved every additional character as well and feel that EVERY single one deserves his/her own book -that is just how good McQuiston is at developing even the smallest side character.

The dialogue that she writes between characters can be heartbreaking, heartwarming, gut wrenching, soul defining, hilarious, and surprising all at once.

I loved Nora, June, Bea, Rafael, Zahra, Shaan, Ellen, Oscar, Amy and Cash. Seriously- I want books on each of these please.

Nora- god I loved how she just cuts to the heart of the matter and is such a great friend. She can see things so clearly where Alex cannot.

June may be the best sister ever. She’s always looking out for Alex and also seeing him so clearly.

“You have so much in you, it’s almost impossible to match it. But he’s your match, dumbass.”

There were just so many wonderful moments in this story. Oh, how badly I want to be a fly on the wall during Ellen’s Powerpoint presentation.

I want to spend a weekend in Texas at the lake house and have Oscar cook for me. I want to sing karaoke with Nora. I want a kimono from Pez. I want to just hang with Bea and June. And count me in for the next New Year’s Eve party at the White House.

Never have I read a book that I highlighted so much. There are just so many gems of prose that gave me all the feels that I want to read and reread again and again.

Given that their relationship developed first  via texts and phone calls and later emails, the words that Alex and Henry write to each other just slayed me. What I wouldn’t give to have someone write to me the words that Henry so effortless and willingly gives to Alex:

“Should I tell you that when we’re apart, your body comes back to me in dreams? That when I sleep, I see you, the dip of your waist, the freckle above your hip, and when I wake up in the morning, it feels like I’ve just been with you, the phantom touch of your hand on the back of my neck fresh and not imagined? That I can feel your skin against mine, and it makes every bone in my body ache? That, for a few moments, I can hold my breath and be back there with you, in a dream, in a thousand rooms, nowhere at all?”

“I never thought I’d be stood here faced with a choice I can’t make, because I never… I never imagined you would love me back.”

“I’ve always thought of myself as a problem that deserved to stay hidden. Never quite trusted myself, or what I wanted. Before you, I was all right letting everything happen to me. I honestly have never thought I deserved to choose.” “But you treat me like I do.”

“I thought, if someone like that ever loved me, it would set me on fire.”…”And then, inexplicably, you had the absolute audacity to love me back. Can you believe it?”

OH MY GOD!! Seriously, Henry just slays me. SLAYS ME I tell you.

It wasn’t only Henry’s words that did me in but the quotes between lovers in history that both Henry and Alex shared with one another. They are priceless.

I would seriously sign up for an email list if McQuiston would just send me beautiful quotes between lovers in history each and every day. Please?! Pretty please?!

As Alex and Henry’s relationship develops – you don’t get overly descriptive bedroom scenes because it wasn’t needed. This was a book about their love story and man did I have all the feels without the need for anything graphic.

As someone who graduated college with a political science major (not that I use it now, but alas!), I really enjoyed the political aspect of the story.

I initially loved politics for the avenue it gave to make a difference and facilitate change in the world, yet I was also quickly disillusioned by how power corrupts and how efforts at change can be easily overcome and sidelined by greed, stalemates and selfishness.

The political themes weren’t overwhelming if they aren’t your cup of tea, but they did bring to light the difficulty Alex and Henry faced in their relationship given their lives in the public eye.

McQuiston wrote that she came up with the idea for this book in 2016 and after the events of November of that year she hoped the book would be a means for escape and trauma-soothing that helped the reader be a little more optimistic about the world.

This book totally filled that purpose for me as I still come to grips with our recent election and await the next one.

I honestly could go on and on about why I loved this book but you just have to take my word for it and read it (and reread it and reread it) yourself.

If you love books about royals, or frenemies to lovers or books that just make you feel, you won’t be disappointed.

Red, White and Royal Blue is above and beyond a 5 star read for me. It’s an amazing debut by McQuiston and you can be sure that I will read any and everything that she publishes from here on out.

Do you like your books with a bit of politics mixed in? Share your comment below!

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