Bess’ Book Recs: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Friends on Twitter were talking about this book and since I’m a sucker for a romance with a cartoon cover, I ordered it from the library. (And so should you!)

Red, White, and Royal Blue is Casey McQuiston’s debut novel and, if I were her, I’d be stressed about how to follow this kind of act with my second book because holy cheesenips is this a good book.

We’ll talk about the plot in a second, but part of what enchanted me was the AU setting of the book. In Red, White, and Royal Blue the president after Obama is a progressive from Texas with biracial children. She’s also divorced. It’s such a nice world to live in for a while and even if I was indifferent to the main plot I still probably would have liked this book just for that escapism.

Luckily, I also loved the plot.

Speaking of the president’s kids, it’s her son Alex who is the PoV character for the novel. And I’ve never been so sucked into identifying with a character so unlike myself before. He’s an extrovert who thrives on politics and throws crazy parties and fakes having sex just so it’ll end up in the news.

If you speak fanfic, this is a slow burn, enemies-to-lovers story. If you don’t speak fanfic, that means Alex’ first kiss with the love interest happens more than a hundred pages into the book and that he starts off the book completely hating the guy he ends up kissing.

By the way, the guy he ends up kissing is the spare in “heir and a spare” for the British royal family.

!!!

In other words, not only are the dramatic stakes in their relationship intensely personal, there are international political ramifications to their interest in each other.

I’ve been reading a lot of fanfic lately, and Red, White, and Royal Blue effortlessly slotted into that emotionally fulfilling, warm and cozy, hold-your-breath-as-you-turn-the-page feeling I aim for with my favorite fics.

Every turn in the book I was like WOW, this has to be the climax! And it took a few turns before I was actually right. There is so much going on in this world, and so much of it is vitally important to Alex and/or Henry. (Prince Henry, that is. Because his boyfriend is a prince. Of England.)

A few caveats: I’m not sure how appropriate it is for someone who isn’t an MLM to write a queer male romance. I haven’t seen a critique calling it out one way or another, but it’s something to keep in mind. Also, there is sex (in romance parlance it’s spicy). It’s not extremely explicit, but it’s intimate enough that I felt like a voyeur and I did skip a few pages to give the guys some privacy.

I admit to falling in love easily, but this is the first book I’ve fallen hard for in a while. All of you should go read it and then come back here and we’ll have a book club about it.

Have you read this one yet? What did you think? Do you know any other books like this one? Send them my way and let me know!

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