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Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel Paperback – May 14, 2019
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* Instant NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestseller *
* GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER for BEST DEBUT and BEST ROMANCE of 2019 *
* 2020 Alex Award Winner *
A Vogue Best Novel of 2019
A Vanity Fair Best Book of 2019
One of NPR's Favorite Books of 2019
One of Entertainment Weekly's Top Ten Romance Novels of 2019
A BookPage Best of the Year
A Kirkus Best Book of 2019
A Library Journal Best Romance of 2019
A Shelf Awareness Best of the Year
A She Reads Best Romance of 2019
"[An] exquisite debut... It’s hard to watch [Alex] fall in love with Henry without falling in love a bit yourself ― with them, and with this brilliant, wonderful book." - The New York Times Book Review
"[A] fireworks in the sky, glitter in your hair joyous royal romance that you’ll want to fall head over heels in love with again and again. A+" - Entertainment Weekly
"A rivalry between the son of a U.S. president and the Prince of Wales turns into a whirlwind romance in this charming story about true love." - Us Weekly
"[An] escapist masterpiece... It’s a truly glorious thing to live inside the world of this book and to imagine it becoming reality, too." - Vogue
"The super specific love story you never knew you needed." - Cosmopolitan
"Effervescent and empowering on all levels, Red, White & Royal Blue is both a well-written love story and a celebration of identity. McQuiston may not be royal herself, but her novel reigns as must read rom-com." - NPR
"In between sweet and steamy love scenes, Red, White & Royal Blue allows readers to imagine a world where coming out involves no self-loathing; where fan fiction and activist Twitter do actual good; and a diverse, liberal White House wins elections. This Blue Wave fantasy could be the feel-good book of the summer." - Booklist, Starred Review
"The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston's debut... The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. A clever, romantic, sexy love story." - Kirkus, Starred Review
"With a diverse cast of characters, quick-witted dialog, and a complicated relationship between to young people with the eyes of the world watching their every move, McQuiston's debut is an irresistible, hopeful, and sexy romantic comedy that considers real questions about personal and public responsibility." - Library Journal, Starred Review
“[An] outstanding debut… with quick wit and clever plotting. The drama, which involves political rivals, possible betrayals, and even a meeting with the queen, is both irresistible and delicious. Readers will be eager to see more from McQuiston.” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Red, White & Royal Blue is funny and fun, and the family and political dynamics feel spot-on, but it’s the frank and unforgettable romance between these two young men that will compel readers to start it all over again when faced with the last page. It’s that hard to say goodbye to this couple." - BookPage, Top Pick
OPRAHMAG.COM, “30 Of The Best LGBTQ Books That’ll Change the Literary Landscape in 2019”
POPSUGAR, “30 Must-Read Books of 2019”
BUSTLE, "21 New Romance Novels To Make Your Spring Reading Even Dreamier Than You Imagined"
SHE READS, “Most Anticipated Romances of 2019”
BUZZFEED, "19 Books Coming Out This Year That You Seriously Need To Read"
HARPER'S BAZAAR, "20 Best LGBTQ Books of 2019"
HELLOGIGGLES, "Best New Books to Read in May"
HYPABLE, “Spring 2019 Releases That Need To Be On Your Radar”
REFINERY29, "Best Books of May 2019"
BOOKRIOT, “Best Books We Read in November” / “Love Is In The Air: 51 New Romance Novels Scheduled for 2019” / “Most Anticipated 2019 LGBTQ Reads” / “Most Anticipated Books of 2019” / "50 Must-Reads Books by Debut authors for January – June 2019”
BOOKPAGE, “2019 Preview: Most Anticipated Romance”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, “Best Romances of 2019"
GOODREADS, “The Best Romance Books of May"
PARADE, "The Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2019"
BOOKBUB, “The Best Romance Books Coming in 2019”
ALL ABOUT ROMANCE, “Books We’re Most Looking Forward to Reading This Year”
CHATELAINE MAGAZINE, “Best Romance Books 2019”
DAZED MAGAZINE, “Eight Romance Novels That Are Subverting The Genre In 2019”
FOREVER YOUNG ADULT, “Most Anticipated Books of 2019”
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, "Best of Romance 2019"
"Let this heartwarmingly romantic tale―about the son of an American president falling in love with the prince of Wales―be a balm for your political and cultural cynicism." - Oprahmag.com
"It's the ideal summer read, one that melds the hilarious crass-mouthed sarcasm of HBO's VEEP with supremely steamy scenes." - Bustle
"It’s moving, it’s relevant, it’s OH-SO romantic..." - Natasha is a Book Junkie
“Royal watchers, prepare yourselves, because this LGBTQ+ romance is destined to leave you swooning.” – Pop Sugar
"Casey McQuiston dazzles with Red, White & Royal Blue. Passion characterizes every moment of this smart, mischievous, gratifying and sensitive novel." - Shelf Awareness
“This is romance at its purest, carrying the reader away on a warm, funny journey... a vision of humanity at its finest.” - Dazed
"This is an enemies-to-lovers romance that will give you all the feels! You won’t want to miss this one – it’s been a favorite of mine this year." - She Reads
"Casey McQuiston reboots the royal romance with a joyful, clever, quick-witted and totally irresistible debut." - Vilma Iris
"I took this with me wherever I went and stole every second I had to read! Absorbing, hilarious, tender, sexy―this book had everything I crave. I’m jealous of all the readers out there who still get to experience Red, White & Royal Blue for the first time!" - Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners
"Red, White & Royal Blue is outrageously fun. It is romantic, sexy, witty, and thrilling. I loved every second." - Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six
"I tore through Red, White & Royal Blue as if it were a pint of Ben & Jerry's. By turns hilarious and angst-ridden, buoyant and strikingly real, this novel is a surefire bull’s-eye for any devotee of classic romance, slow burn fanfiction, or heartfelt storytelling. A political love story too timely and too genuine to miss." - Lyndsay Faye, internationally bestselling author of Jane Steele and The Gods of Gotham
"This book is like that perfect dessert you allow yourself only on the really good or really bad days. And I loved every deliciously satiating page of it." - Julia Whelan, author of My Oxford Year
About the Author
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This felt like shipped fan fiction crossed with political Pollyanna outcomes that were so predictable. Additionally it felt like it was going for some NC 17 type mainstream rating. While I don't have to have explicit erotica in my romance, the cross between weirdly glossed through, implied sex scenes and sort of fade to black at the bed until dawn was unsatisfying at best. A little bit of purple prose and I would have been transported back to 1980's Harlequin romances with a lot more pages and a gay twist.
Was it romantic to read? Sometimes. I would have rather read a whole book of their emails back and forth, I think that was where the real romance shined with real intimacy. Sometimes it was a dead political bore or infuriating political posturing. Was it fun to read, actually, yes at times but mostly in a way that I didn't see as really very approachable. Was it ridiculous for millennial men under the worlds microscope to not think twice about using email? OMG. So dumb. So, so dumb. Was it lazy and gross for the author to use the trauma of "outing" as a driving plot device, absolutely. Were the secret service basically non existent and incompetent in this book. 100%.
Finally, I was actually the most surprised by the editing errors from a major book publisher. The very first sentence after "Rule Number One", (this is basically page 1) had a spelling error. I found that to set the tone to find quite a few more, and double sentences and trouble with tense. I assumed for the high $$ ebook price it would have been more professionally done.
Let me say this: it was very clear from the beginning how this story was going to end. It wasn’t surprising... like, at all! But, the joy should be in the journey no matter the outcome, right? Well... no. It was written nicely at times (but mostly it’s a very tumblr/fanfic/glib mess). There were many moments of inspired, descriptive passages and pretty prose, sure, but... It’s a shame that you had to trudge through the too-frequent, unrealistically crude, sarcastic banter to get to it, though, so...
Almost every side character is a person of color, and there’s lots of lgbtq representation, which should feel great, but instead comes off as incredibly forced (which is not so great)— like a diversity checklist. The inclusion of multiple POC I perceived as only to be used as a statement, which feels wrong somehow. I dig that here the First Family is biracial, but again, it didn’t feel organic (couldn’t it just be, “This is us. This is who we are” and leave it at that? Instead of it trying to hammer home social commentary?). It’s totally all contrived political correctness. The rep is important: we have multiple LGBTQIA+ caricatures, that came off as disingenuous stereotypes. But mostly, for the entirety of the novel, I couldn’t connect with the MCs. They didn’t feel real enough: too smug, snarky, narcissistic, and the romance was all-consuming (and I hate that)... Give me diversity and representation, but let it make sense! Let it be real!!!
A lot happens in the first 10% of the book (it felt like it was crammed in, or one giant prologue that’s multiple chapters long): White House to London, back to USA, then London again, a wedding and three public events— I didn’t know how it was going to be dragged out for the remaining 90%. I wish more time was actually focused on a few of Alex and Henry’s outings earlier on, because they came and went so fast I got whiplash: the trip to the stables was over in a blink, the talk show (I think it was?) was probably a paragraph or two before it jumped abruptly into a charity event. There was SO MUCH room for elaboration... these were missed opportunities for interesting depth progression, and could’ve saved on so much unnecessarily long-winded ramblings later on. After about a third of the way through, the books starts to evolve into something different— more sincere, if you will. Making the first 30-odd percent seem like an infinitely different story/tone.
(Side note: the whole ‘young adults debate Star Wars’ schtick is SO overdone).
There is a huge identity crisis happening in this novel: sometimes it screams YA, and then other times characters are talking about graphic acts. Fair warning for anyone sensitive to it: there is extremely frequent crude/crass language, and lots of sexual material. One of the more "intimate" scenes plays out for like, several pages (too long, in my opinion). We get a dozen (I am not exaggerating!) different sex scenes. Now, I’m no prude (and wholly sex positive), but that’s just TOO MANY! It read like fanfiction-y smut.
I also can’t believe I’m saying this, but there was just waaaay too much banter for my liking. It was all “sharp” millennial humor all the dang time. I craved moments of actual sarcasm-less depth and seriousness, and was frequently disappointed most of the way through, which was often, because this book is OVERLONG! I was constantly checking my progress, because the story just dragsssss and I wanted it to pick up the pace.
(Not to sound nit-picky, but...)— cool. Another politically-charged book out to vilify Republicans. I get it: it’s AU liberal wish fulfillment about the First Family. They’re Democrats. I’m fine with that, obviously, because I don’t judge people or outright reject anyone based on political affiliation. But couldn’t this book just leave out all the name calling, ignorance, and horrible right-wing stereotyping? The only message I see being pushed here is that Republicans are nothing more than bigoted, racist, fascist, evil, homophobic sexual predators, and Democrats are the ones to save us all. The authoress could’ve done the decent thing: play nice and not be so severely partisan (being pro-bipartisan won’t make you any less progressive), but that’s too much to ask with such clearly imbedded bias. Her disgust for Republicans is scary and, frankly really, really sad. I almost, almost was willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but come the conclusion after the whole “Waterloo” leak, I’m just resigned to the fact that Left-leaning authors will never tolerate opinions outside their own. And it makes me feel bad.
Their parents are less than thrilled with the altercation, and in an effort to smooth over the politically embarrassing moment, Alex and Henry are forced to orchestrate a fake friendship for the next few months. Only the “fake” friendship begins to become something more as both Alex and Henry realize the other isn’t exactly what he seems. Friendship morphs into…romantic feelings? Kind of? Maybe? Which is especially confusing for Alex since he’s (mostly?) sure he’s straight. The two men must navigate their intense and complicated relationship, all while Alex’s mother campaigns for reelection in the States and the Queen scrutinizes Henry’s every move from the throne.
So. This was an interesting experience for me. I don’t usually read gay romance, but I have to say this was a really lovely book. Alex and Henry both are extremely well-developed characters. It didn’t take me long to feel like I knew them and was invested in their stories. The plot line itself is sweet and not as predictable as I was expecting. Plus, there’s a lot more going on here than “will they or won’t they?” That dilemma is solved pretty early on, and the second half of the novel is devoted entirely to delivering a much more nuanced message about the ethical boundaries of social media and politics, as well as the efficacy of how we interact with and support the LGBTQ community.
In sum, Red, White, and Royal Blue is a really charming book, and (can I say this without sounding ignorant?) I feel like I caught a glimpse into a life I know relatively nothing about and ended up learning a lot. I finished this one feeling happy, yes, but also a little more understanding and knowledgeable. What’s not to love?
Top international reviews
Secondly it was a sanitised gay mills and books novel, how this book got the reviews it did I will never know. Honestly save your money, there are far better books out the for 99p.
It's like the very best sort of pop music: well-written, catchy (in this case for its characters) and with just enough to say to make you remember it after the fact. It may not do a lot that's new or innovative - unless going down the royal romance path only to take a gay turn along the way is a departure - but in its democratic dream world it never allows itself to become too frivolous, realising that it still has a powerful message at its heart that very much bears repeating. It's not perfect; it stretches credulity, even within its own fantastic remit, a little too tautly at times. But it does have important things to say, and on the whole it says them well. It's also very sexy, for which it earns bonus points, and with which it sets itself apart from most YA and indeed 'adult' fiction, which is often far more reined-in in its depiction of sex scenes.
Overall, a very solid four stars.
Red, White & Royal Blue is an enemies-to-lovers/forbidden romance book, which is in its on way marvellous, but it's so much more than that as well.
I love how we get to reimagine the world where the US elected a woman as president and where we get to see England exposed for its intense and unnecessary grasp in the old traditional ways. The world is changing, that change is inevitable, and Henry and Alex are the perfect guides to present us with that transition.
So there's a lot about politics and societal expectations and how opinion is molded and often outdated. But, in the midst of that we get to see Henry's and Alex's relationship bloom. And guys... What a beautiful thing that is. It's heartfelt and pure, it's sexy and sweet, it's everything. Those two filled my heart and I just wanted to yell at everyone that love is love and people deserve to be loved without judgement goddamit.
Yeah, I got passioned about it, lol. Anyways, characters are great, the story is interesting, supporting cast is funny and helps carry the story forward. Overall great book. My only complaint could be that it got a tad messy in the end, and I think the story lost a bit of pace. Other than that, great read. Well done Casey McQuiston, can't wait to read more things from you.
The first third of the book is truly lovely. It is not discreet in its diversity and there are clear intents when selecting characters genders, skin colour, nationalities, etc. It feels more utopic than natural but I loved that about it; its a bit tumblr reader 101, but ultimately just made me happy to know this is what younger readers are reading. These character shouldn’t be discreet, or any more discreet than any other character and I’m glad they form a part of these stories.
The relationship development is fun and feels natural at first. I usually like to see character laughing together, it makes me feel the bond in truth. There is a lot of shared laughter and you end up falling for the relationship so much you want them to be together more than you want to fantasise about being with any of them yourself.
And then we get to the middle. The middle is parts exciting and steamy ...and parts fanfiction.
The concept of first son, first family, the publicity, responsibilities and involvement of these kids/young adults all read a bit too much. Its that feeling of 11 year olds solving mysteries, which is cute in books for kids but just comes across silly when you’re older.
Ditto some of the prince’s moments. Escaping for the museum at night and having the keys? Totally a fanfic moment.
All those international functions while going through university, with honours? Totally fanfic.
Exchange of romantic letters (emails) even though the entire relationship is set in our current text-mad world, quoting of historical letters, slightly villainous old lady - its all there.
Most people won’t have a revelation moment or even question themselves very much while reading this. If you make it past the first third, you’re probably someone who already agrees with all of the book’s messages anyway. If thats the case, you’re probably all but screaming “yes!” and giddily smiling while reading it, which is still a fun experience. Its not a book meant to convert or educate, but being able to relate to characters, is just as important!
Ultimately, the fact that I keep coming back and rereading snippets is undeniable - its a lovely story with truly beautiful moments. Its messages are all in your face but no less touching for it.
I have to say that going into Red, White & Royal Blue, I had some pretty high expectations, owing to the fact that it's all my twitter has been talking about for the last month or so and it actually sold out across the U.K. before its release. Somehow, it met and exceeded all of my expectations.
Alex and Henry were an absolute delight to read about, and seeing their relationship change and grow in the book was so entirely heart-warming that I am pretty sure my heart has actually melted. Though, I am a sucker for the enemies to lovers trope, even if we didn't really see them be enemies for long.
Honestly, this book has made me feel all hopeful and warm and fuzzy inside and I think this is something that a lot of people would benefit from reading, even if it's only so it can put a smile on their face, because it most definitely will.
Just from the end of chapter one, I knew this was going to be a five star read for me. The humour in this book is outstanding, and really makes moments that could be considered "cheesy", not cheesy. So, a lot of negative reviews I saw were about the "jabs" made towards Brits. Mate, I'm a Brit and I was cackling throughout, it ain't that deep, calm down. Also Alex and Henry are literal goals in this book how can you hate them? The politics in this story admittedly go over my head at times, but that's due to me not being knowledgeable in that area, but reading a second time definitely helped get my head around them. But they are a much needed element to this story and it really added a sense of reality into it.
Honestly, if the book plot and romance wasn't the first thing obvious about this book, I would be screaming "MAKE THEM GAY YOU COWARDS" by the end of chapter 2. I thoroughly enjoyed Henry and Alex's conversations, they are just simply cute and hilarious because the banter throughout this book is on point and top notch! The author has totally encapsulated the way young people talk to one another. The messy bisexual and chaotic gay vibe of this book had me living.
Page 111. The entire quite on that page about sexuality, and how it's so confusing when your younger, because you just feel that the way your feeling is normal, is hella on point! I really resonated to it so much and I loved reading how I too felt, in a book. I love how accepting parts of this book is, it makes you feel so happy at times about the acceptance, the love and progression towards equality, and for me it was a nice reality to escape into.
Literal thought throughout this book was "Holy Smutoly", make more New Adult books please! Yo, these gay monarch references have me living! I learnt a lot after reading this book about James the first (or thirst appropriately) and George Villiers.
Being outed before you are ready is the most shattering thing to happen. It knocks the wind from under your feet and shatters the very love and confidence you had managed to scrape together for yourself, during the realization of your sexuality and/or gender identity. Figuring out who you are is one the hardest things you'll ever do, telling people is the second. If you don't have that environment and love and support either, it's truly soul crushing. I liked how this book focuses on many parental figures idea of acceptance is to ignore it's existence or deny all plausibility of the confession.
Overall, I loved this book, I felt represented in this book and you should read this book! 5 stars!
It tackles a classic theme in literature - love against the odds - but never sinks to cliche, as the reader is taken along the rollercoaster of Alex and Henry’s relationship trajectory. You hope they’ll make it but you’re never sure and you find yourself willing them to win in their fight for love. Their worlds may be rarified but what they face together is universal: the struggle to know and love yourself for who you are, to find your place in a world that doesn’t seem to want to accommodate your personal truth and, of course, the perils of falling in love and the doubts and challenges that brings.
I genuinely love this book and cannot recommend it highly enough. Forget your age, your sexuality, your political persuasion... If you believe in love and want a touching, thoughtful and uplifting reminder that there is joy and goodness in the world, buy this book and be prepared for a wonderful reading experience.
Henry is described as being the third child of princess Catherine, first in line to her mother, Queen Mary’s throne. Therefore, her official title would be Princess of Wales. And once she is queen her ELDEST son, Philip, will adopt the title prince of Wales. However, the author seems to think Henry is the prince of Wales. And also, being the second son and third child to the first in line to the throne actually would realistically mean that the royal family wouldn’t care that he was gay, cause in the past few years they’ve updated it so that Bea actually would come before Henry in lines of succession, therefore Philip doesn’t even need to have kids.
I understand that the author is trying to achieve an escapist optimistic parallel to the real events of us politics. But to actually make our royal family look worse than they are is unfair. If you want realism and optimism don’t pain other countries in parallel and more negative way.
I also know is fictive. And not supposed to be representing the real royal family but if you’re going to claim it as a more optimistic and positive parallel universe for all those lost in a trump ruined country then please at least except hate REAL positivity taken from fact. It would just be a nicer read for British audiences.
I would be amazed if this wasn't made into a film in the near future, ideally adapted for the big screen by Richard Curtis.
A breathtaking romance? Check
The perfect length? Check
Story to die for? Check
A delicious prince of England? Check
A tex mex wonderful first son of the United States? Check
Tears, lots and lots of tears. Check check check
Just, go and read it
I loved reading a protagonist who is open about feeling things and feeling too much. Alex is funny and charming and so real. Henry’s lines made me ache. June broke my heart with her strength. Catherine and Ellen made me cry the hardest. The characters are all so wonderfully nuanced and fleshed out, nobody feels left behind or like a caricature. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me whoop with joy.
The thing about good books is that they have a tendency to reach inside you and shock you into life. There’s something electric about them - sharp and clear. They make you see the world anew. Sharing in Alex’s story made the sky a little bluer, the sun a little warmer, it made me see a little clearer. Good books bring you into focus. Alex’s story taught me about him, and about myself. He made me hope, and that is a dangerous, and beautiful, thing.
Thank you, Casey McQuiston.