ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

SUMMARY

41150487Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Received From: NetGalley

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?

GENDER SEXUALITY PAIRINGS

GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: bisexual, homosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: biromantic, homoromantic
PAIRING: M/M

TAGS TROPES WARNINGS

TROPES: fake friends, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, enemies to friends to lovers, secret relationship, height difference, long distance relationship
TAGS: new adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, romantic comedy, Mexican characters, Latinx characters, POC characters, biracial characters, interracial relationship, coming out, alternative history
WARNINGS: enby exclusionary language, ableism, cissexism/anti-trans language, cancer mention, parental death mention, parental illness mention, slurs, gendered slurs, alcohol, anti-bisexual language, anti-queer, anti-queer family, suicide mention, cultural appropriation, anti-fat language, mental illness (anxiety, panic attack), outing, nonconsensual outing, emotional abuse, stalking mention, Nazi mention, heteronormativity, attempted rape mention

REVIEW

I really wanted to love this book because so many of my friends have loved and recommended it. And while I didn’t connect with it right away, I kept reading and did start enjoying it! Until the kiss between Henry and Alex, and Alex’s subsequent self-realization. Because, you see, that was the point where I realized one crucial thing that would completely ruin the reading experience for me: Alex’s sexuality was going to be used as one of the central conflicts, if not the central conflict, of the novel. Despite realizing this, I kept reading because I wanted to prove myself wrong. I wanted to believe that so many people couldn’t have lead me astray and recommended me a book where the main character’s sexuality was the issue he and the rest of the characters had to work around. But, well. Here we are. And after the kiss, Alex’s bisexuality is utilized as a recurring source of angst and problems, especially as it pertains to his mother’s presidency and re-election campaign.

Not only that, though–and here will be some spoilers–but Alex’s bisexuality is further used in an attempt to undermine his mother’s campaign by her opponent. Said opponent has Alex and Henry stalked, unknowingly photographed, their communications hacked, and then has the two of them very publicly outed as queer and engaging in a secret relationship. And you know what? I’m really tired of sexuality being used as conflict outside of internal conflict for the character, but even more than that, I’m really sick of authors outing their characters like this to create conflict in their stories. This is an act of violence. This is a violation, and the characters deserve better. McQuiston could’ve easily used something else to create drama in the story, but instead went with publicly, nonconsensually outing two queer people in order to paint the villain as a villain. It’s bullshit.

And I’ll say this now: I’m not judging any queer people who may have enjoyed the novel, because they are fully within their rights to like the storyline and the way it was written. But in my opinion, it was unnecessary and I don’t really feel this book should be marketed as a romantic comedy.

As for what I liked, the romance was generally pretty good, and I enjoyed the mixed media and long distance aspect of the relationship. All the characters were complex and interesting in different ways, and I enjoyed the various friendships found within the pages.

While it wasn’t a 5 or even 4 star read for me, while I was enjoying it, I was enjoying it as a 3 star read that’s not a favorite but isn’t unpleasant to read. Until the aforementioned issues.

RATING

2 STARS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

17949486Casey McQuiston grew up in the swamps of Southern Louisiana, where she cultivated an abiding love for honey butter biscuits and stories with big, beating hearts. She studied journalism and worked in magazine publishing for years before returning to her first love: joyous, offbeat romantic comedies and escapist fiction. She now lives in the mountains of Fort Collins, Colorado, with a collection of caftans and her poodle mix, Pepper.

review by nicky tyler

4 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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