This book has received a lot of attention in the bookstagram world. There’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t see a photo of Red, White, and Royal Blue accompanied with words of ringing praise as I scroll through the social media outlet. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to this book, I decided it was time for me to check it out and see what all of the hype was about.
Red, White, and Royal Blue begins in present-day Washington, DC. In the White House, in fact. But in this fictionalized scenario, the American President is a woman, Ellen Claremont. And the first family consists of her husband, Leo and her grown children, June and Alex Claremont-Diaz. The story itself centers primarily around Alex.
With college graduation just around the corner, Alex is plotting a course for his own political future, in addition to helping his mom with her upcoming presidential re-election campaign. The future seems bright for Alex. He has a lot going for him. He’s handsome, and he confidently sports his charm and wit. These qualities make for great optics; proving Alex to be an important asset to the Claremont team, as well as a potentially effective politician in his own right. But speculations about his dating history have made his romantic life fodder for media gossip. Alex initially takes this in stride. It’s one of the many consequences of being in the spotlight. But his feelings will soon change.
Because of his position as First Son, Alex often has to move around in international circles; meeting dignitaries, heads-of-state, and… royalty. And there’s one particular royal that gets under his skin, Prince Henry of Wales. Alex was ungraciously slighted by the British Prince in the past, and he hasn’t been able to shake the affront. So, when Alex, angry and a little tipsy, confronts Henry at a royal event, the results are disastrous and the tabloids go crazy. In order to patch things up from an international relations standpoint, Alex and Henry are forced to spend time together to show the world that everything is a-ok. And the media totally buys into their staged bff routine. However, with time the dynamic between Alex and Henry begins to change. Their manufactured friendship transitions into a very real, and very intense, romance. This complicates their lives even further as they struggle to figure out how to make their secret relationship work, while under the constant glare of the public eye.
I really did enjoy this novel. Did I love it? I wouldn’t go that far. The idea of it is so contrived and far-fetched, that I often found myself saying “Tsst, that could never happen.” I just had some difficulty suspending disbelief. Now this is coming from a person who has totally bought into the plausibility of the Harry Potter world. (I’m still waiting for my acceptance letter from Hogwarts). That being said, there’s a lot of things that I appreciated about Red, White, and Royal Blue. The idea of discovering one’s self while living in a fish bowl. The leap of faith one takes when they decide to open themselves up to another person. The courage exhibited in living out loud, when living in silence would be the easier and safer option. For a book that ostensibly comes across as lighter-fare, Red, White and Royal Blue effectively addresses these deeper, more pressing, themes. Plus, it’s really funny. Like, “laughing my (bleep) off” funny. So, if you’re looking for a fun rom-com with just the right amount of depth, you’ll definitely enjoy this book! Cheers!
Interesting side note: this is the last book I purchased at my local bookstore before the shelter-in-place orders went into effect. I look forward to the day when I can return. It’s truly one of my favorite places.