Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Why did I wait so long to read it? Audiobook Review #AudiobookChallenge2020

Synopsis

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? 

 

Audiobook Review

 

5 flamboyant stars

 

I had that book on my shelf for such a looong time but reading Jay (James Cudney)’s review some weeks ago was the kick I needed to finally grab it, dive in and …fall in love!

I am utterly astonished at how that read excels in being charming, droll, sarcastic, moving and romantic at the same time.

That also reminded me of the race for the recent US elections and some low blow candidates does not hesitate to jab.

 

I am certain in reading the synopsis and all the enthusiastic reviews that you know the plot by now so I won’t delve into it. I will rather talk about the characters, the relationship, the …

 

But as I know I’ll write quite a long review, the nutshell version is that this book has:

-great banter;

-lots of laugh out loud moments;

-meet cute beginning in a very dramatic fashion (try tumbling into a wedding cake);

-amazing friendship;

-strong sibling love;

-lots of angst and suspense (how will they make it work? What if they are outed? And will the president win the election again? And..);

-serious topics like racial and gender identity, grief etc. wrapped up in a brilliant and swoony package.

 

The Characters

I think for as much as I loved them, Casey McQuiston went all stereotypical on us.

Alex is the outspoken, free, arrogant and flamboyant US heir.

Henry is rather contained, old fashioned, polite, polished and appears icy while hiding sarcastic humor under that exterior veneer.

These are archetypes of what we often see written about US citizens vs UK ones.

But that worked splendidly!

 

In the beginning of the story, Alex seemed like a prick. He was mocking, arrogant and bathing in the attention of being the president’s son. I didn’t know if I would love him.

But when he was forced to go visit Henry to do some damage control, it seemed that discovering Henry’s human side rubbed on him and softened his tough guy stance. It was like he played a role of being that big strong and brawling guy just to infuriate Henry, to provoke a reaction, maybe because deep down Alex was intimidated by Henry.

Like animals raising their hair to appear bigger when confronted to an opponent.        

And when Alex will realize he is attracted to Henry and is bisexual, this changed his whole attitude. He felt more sincere, less “fabricated” dare I say and much more loveable to my eyes.

I loved him even more when he talked what being a biracial (part Mexican, part American) kid was in the US.

 

Henry…I would have loved some chapters in Henry’s POV. We only get a glimpse of what’s happening in his head through the messages he sent to Alex.

That was one element of that story that I found brilliant: opening up through text messages and mails. Because you are often true to yourself when you write, with the comfort of not being face to face with the person to see his reaction.

Henry was initially a mystery but Alex’s friendship and constant poking unraveled him like a ball of yarn. He came apart under Alex’s scrutiny, impertinent messages and watchful ear.

We were left with a man who had to hide his true identity all his life. Someone who had a huge burden on his shoulders but who yearned to be seen and loved for who he was.

 

Their relationship evolved in a very organic way. From enemies to friends to lovers, nothing felt forced nor rushed. And when they finally were together, …let’s just say that the atmosphere was sizzling with heat!

 

Last word about characters and relationships: I think Casey built a very strong cast of side characters.

The strong bond between Alex and his sister June, their friend Nora was a pure delight to read. They formed a tight unit and worked like a well-oiled machine.

Henry’s relationship with Beatrice his sister was also heart-warming. At least Henry had someone in his corner as opposed to his very stiff older brother Philippe.

I also loved colorful Pez, Henry’s best friend.

 

I know this review is extremely long and I apologize for it but I would like to highlight the huge list of delicate but contemporary topics broached very smartly in this brilliant story:

-racial identity and racism in media;

-sexual identity;

-family expectation;

-divorce;

-grief and anxiety depiction;

-…

 

I just have two words left: read this!

 

Have you read it?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Sophie

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19 Replies to “Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Why did I wait so long to read it? Audiobook Review #AudiobookChallenge2020”

  1. I’m honestly still avoiding this one like the plague haha

  2. So happy you enjoyed this one Sophie, it’s one of my favorites! And now your review made me crave a re-read, haha 🙂

  3. I just skimmed your review Sophie because I’ve had this on my TBR for awhile and I’m hoping to get to it in December!! But you rated it high so I know I’ll enjoy it!

  4. My book club convinced me to read this one, and I listened to the audiobook – absolutely loved it!

  5. I am so glad you enjoyed this one so much! It really is an heartwarming and sweet stories, with a side dish of serious themes. And I agree with you about the “these characters are cliches” but I think the author manage to make them real anyway, and it is not always an easy task.
    And I loved the relationship between siblings (and Nora, who is family all the same!). It was a nice change, and I am always happy to see tight families! (or part of families at least!)

    1. I love reading about tight families too!

  6. Nope, I’ve not read it. But now I want to:) Wonderful review, Sophie!

    1. Thank you Laura!

  7. I’ve seen this book EVERYWHERE! I definitely need to give it a try 🙂

    1. Oh yes Jacquie! You’re going to love it!

  8. So glad to see this!!!!!

    1. Yes Jay! And it’s thanks to you!!!

  9. Great review! I really need to read this! (I say that a lot dont I?!!!)

    1. Yes but I do say that a lot too Caro LOL

      1. Its why my tbr is rather large!!!!

  10. Great review, Sophie! I’m glad you loved this book! It was a mixed bag for me! I really enjoyed the characters but I hated the politics part.

    1. Ha yes politics plays an important role here but it did not deter me from it 😉

  11. The friendship and the romance were two of my favorite things in this book. I did feel like the politics overshadowed the romance at times, but I did enjoy this book, and would love to see the other characters get their own books.

    1. Me too! It would be so amazing! I know she has a book for next year but have not read the synopsis yet!

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