What is this about?: The First Son of the USA falls in love with a Prince of the UK.
What else is this about?: There is a wealth of fluffy goodness to enjoy here, but it’s wrapped around a coming of age story and a coming to terms for Alex of his bisexuality.
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?
I read Red, White and Royal Blue awhile ago and again fell far behind when it came to posting it. But one thing has not changed: my utter glee at this book, and desire to run around waving it in everyone’s face saying read it. There would be hearts in my eyes when I did, I’m not even going to pretend otherwise.
So hopefully, this is going to be a somewhat articulate review, that is more than: Read this , read this, read this….
Red, White and Royal Blue swept me up into an improbable romance made probable by how relatable the author made these two men you would not ever consider yourself relating to.
However, isn’t that what a love story is? Everyone is created equal when it comes to their love story.
This isn’t the meet-cute of your dreams
Alex, the biracial First Son of the United States, has never liked Prince Henry of Wales. It stems from a meeting at an Olympics where as far as Alex is concerned, Henry was a douche of the highest order and he has never forgiven him for that. So to say he’s not looking forward to going to a royal wedding in the UK and seeing Henry there is an understatement.
When they get into what looks to be a fist fight, and topple over a 70,000 pound cake, an international incident is created and Henry and Alex have to make nice — lots of photo opportunities and interviews and smiling so their animosity doesn’t ruin their countries’ relationships.
Granted they may be surrounded by aides and what not, this is when we get to see the men behind the public personas: Henry who still mourns his father, a former James Bond actor, and Alex who understands that grief, and finds himself appreciating Henry’s sense of humour. Then there’s Alex who’s passionate about politics and the change it can affect, and Henry who might not understand American politics, but he understands that passion.
Alex is our POV into this story, so we learn about his mother, the President, his step-father and his real father and the animosity and tension that ruined their marriage and can still ruin dinners between them. Years after their divorce, it still drives Alex nuts, and that’s just another reason why it’s so easy to understand these two — underneath the pomp and circumstance, where it counts they’re pretty normal.
Secondary characters and fantastic characterisation
One of the best aspects of this book are the characters that surround Henry and Alex. We don’t get as much insight into Henry’s life, outside what Alex experiences, but very quickly it’s their sisters — Bea (Henry) and June (Alex) that shine in this story. They’re their brothers’ confidants, no stranger to scandal in their own way. And Nora, the VP’s grand-daughter, who Alex dated briefly and still pretends to date to keep the paps occupied — their friendship shines through this story and it’s a joy to get lost in.
Scandal does come to touch Alex and Henry, forcing them to stand up for themselves and what they want with each other. This is the hard part — recognising what they could lose and what they could gain and just how damn hard it’ll be. The author doesn’t shy away from this — for all Alex is exploring his sexuality for the first (second) time, he forces himself to examine what his choices with Henry mean, and there’s a coming to terms story in that, which was wonderful.
Henry was the opposite end of the spectrum, caught up in more pomp and circumstance that Alex really understood but no less determined to break the bonds of it. His love for Alex and the potential in the relationship brings him to the point of no return, of not being able to stand pretending any longer — not matter what anyone else in his very royal family says.
Red, White and Royal Blue is a glorious read to get lost in, equal measures idealistic, romantic and angsty. These are complex characters caught up in what may look like a feel-good romance, but is so much more.
(Also, book two has to cover the very fine and badass women in their lives. I hope.)