The British royal family and politics are two of America’s favorite topics, and Casey McQuiston’s debut book Red White & Royal Blue blends them in a delightfully amusing way with just the right amount of drama.
After accidentally pushing his competitor Prince Henry into the wedding cake while visiting the U.K. with his sister June, Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the U.S. president, sparks a media frenzy that has people from both sides of the Atlantic concerned about a potential global crisis, especially Alex’s mother Ellen (who is the POTUS, by the way). During the arduous re-election campaign for his mother, Alex is forced to consider his sexuality and the ramifications of a risky connection. As our two characters are forced to deal with the fallout, an odd friendship-turned-romance blossoms.
The last thing Alex and Henry need is for their feelings to grow stronger the more they sneak about. Henry is under pressure from Queen Mary to carry out his responsibilities as a monarch, even if it means denying his sexuality, and Alex is a rising political star. However, it’s hard to ignore how ideal they are for one another. These are two men who love each other despite their baggage; their flirtatious relationship is powered by witty banter that makes even historical studies sound alluring. Their chemistry sparkles even from a distance, transcending politics and tradition.
In addition to sharing Alex and Henry’s narrative, McQuiston writes with hope about each character’s goals, worries for the future of their respective nations, and initiatives to support the LGBTQ population. Ironically, she also takes us through the reality of a female president who is now in office and who won the 2016 election before dropping us into a fictitious election in 2020 that feels right on the nose.
Although her opponent tries to undermine her campaign and discredit her, Ellen is surrounded by a group of supporters who frequently intervene to save the day and add to the entertainment value of the narrative, particularly the White House Trio (Alex, June, and the vice president’s grandchild Nora). They comprise a new political vanguard in many aspects that, in my opinion, might take over as president in a few years.
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The group’s togetherness seems to be a mirror of today’s politically active and energetic younger generations. In particular, Alex wants to mobilize underrepresented voters in his native Texas and other places to bring about change, and he is considering attending law school as a first step toward his objectives.
He debates with a co-worker, saying, “Maybe those demographics could be more motivated to vote if we made an actual effort to campaign to them and showed them that we care, and how our platform is geared to help them, not leave them behind.” He supports Henry’s goals with his single-minded attitude to issues, the pursuit of Henry, and campaign effort. Their opposing approaches to thinking about their legacies are inspiring. They both want to leave the best possible mark on history.
Red White & Royal Blue is both a skillfully written love story and a celebration of individuality. It is bubbly and inspiring on all levels. Even though McQuiston is not a royal, her book is a must-read rom-com.BUY PDF