TITLE: Red, White & Royal Blue
AUTHOR: Casey McQuinston
GENRE/ AGE RANGE: NewAdult, Romance, Contemporary
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Homophobia, Racism, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Talk of loss of a loved one, outing (in my opinion), sexual scenes (fade to black), neglectful parents/guardians
TAGS: Gay mc, Bi mc
PUBLICATION DATE: May 14th, 2019
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…
Character Guide ⇩
►Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz → The first son, bisexual, ADHD, biracial (mexican & white)
►Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor → Prince of England, gay (closeted)
”He wants to set himself on fire, but he can’t afford for anyone to see him burn.”
This book made me stressed and depressed. No joke, Red, White & Royal Blue gave me some of the worst stomach-knotting anxiety I’ve ever had in my life, so it’s got that going for it I guess? In all seriousness, this book really is very good and is definitely deserving of all the hype it’s been getting. The characters are relatable and have some seriously high-quality banter, and they seem like real people. So, why only 4 stars? And what’s with the title of the review?
“This the damage you cause, Alex… This is who you hurt.”
I have found over the years, that I react two different ways to books I love – I either binge it over a couple of sittings, or it takes me weeks or months to finish it. In this instance, it took me almost a month to read a book I was expecting to have done in a day or two. I got 50ish pages in, new I had found a new favourite, and then put the book down for 2 weeks. But, once I finally got back to reading, I was LOVING it, I mean it’s hard not to, right? The characters are fantastic! But, I had no idea how I actually felt about the book. I loved it, but I didn’t really love it. I loved it but it made me so incredibly anxious and sad that I got to a point around the 250/300 page mark, where I sat down and said to myself, if I don’t read this now, I’m never going to finish it. My feelings on this book are so fucking complicated.
It took me weeks of wondering and pondering about why this book made me so anxious and uncomfortable, which is why this review has been soo delayed! Seriously, I finished this book on the 1st of August! I don’t want to seem over-dramatic or like I’m taking away from the book in any way, so I want to preface this next bit of my review. This is a truly fantastic book with some great characters and a really fun writing style. I really do recommend it, but the truth is, it really set my anxiety off, which was a new experience for me because books have never given me this much anxiety before.
I remember texting my friend Rebecca, as I was reading and just saying, I really really like this book and I want to finish it but oh my god it makes me want to vomit from anxiety and I’ve been close to tears reading it all day. What do I do???
“And through it all, Alex realises with a start: He has friends now.”
It took a lot of time and talking with Bec to figure it out, but I think what made this book so uncomfortable to me, is one, the British monarchy just generally makes me uncomfortable. And, two, I had the same problem with this that I have with reality tv shows. I can’t watch cooking or renovation shows because they make me too anxious, and I can’t watch reality shows because they also give me ridiculous amounts of anxiety. So, I think it took me a while to connect the dots because I just wasn’t thinking about this book like that. But, you go through these peoples lives really closely, and you get to know the main group of characters to the point where you really think you know them, and there’s angst and drama and a happy ending.
The problem I had with RW&RB is actually what so many other readers loved about it, it feels personal, and that really freaked me out. For me, it was too personal. Honestly, this was a really fun read, but it was a bit too much for me – it was too intense and at times too hard to read (neglectful parents, homophobia – see TW). I loved it and will always recommend it, and I even have it on my shelves, but I don’t see myself ever re-reading it.
I think that if you love rom-coms and reality shows, you will love this but just know that this book does tackle some heavy themes like homophobia, future careers, US/UK politics and, in my opinion, outing people in the closet. As well as a lot of other things – Casey McQuinston really packs a lot into this 400 page novel!
Also, that whole conversation on page 343 about how deeply Henry feels things? I felt that.
End of review! 😂 Have you read Red, White & Royal Blue? Did you like/dislike it? Who was your favourite character? Did you read this like a reality show or am I just weird? Has a book ever given you so much anxiety you considered DNFing it?