I read a lot of romance novels. Like, a lot of romance novels. There's just some secret ingredient baked into the fabric of certain novels, an element of magic that manages to get me out of any funk. As a connoisseur of sorts, I've read them all: horrible, cringey, unreal, realistic, stunning, swoon-worthy, and way too many more to name. That being said, I can unequivocally say that "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuinston is downright magical.
"Red, White & Royal Blue" follows Alex Clairmont-Diaz, first son of the United States as he falls in love unexpectedly with Prince Henry of Wales. If that sentence alone didn't sell you on this book, I'll put it in clearer terms: you need to read this. McQuinston is funny, smart, and delivers characters that are so undeniably personalities that would live in our era.
Set in an alternate timeline where Trump was never elected president, the book imagines a better world. Alex is half Mexican, bisexual, and ambitious as hell to make a difference in politics despite being the first son. He's surrounded by a lovely cast of characters, all of which highlight different shades of the diversity we need to see in books. But, just because the characters are so diverse, it doesn't mean racism and homophobia are non-existent. For as much hate that is thrust upon the characters, it's doubled down by the love from the absolutely supportive individuals around them.
Alex and Henry's love story is chaotic in the best way possible. Not only is this a star crossed lovers-esque story, but the added fame and political responsibility add another dimension to the characters. They're both so young and because of who they are, where they were born, or what their parents do for a living, their lives are constantly in the spotlight. McQuinston keeps the characters grounded despite being some of the most famous faces in the world. They facetime one another, email each other, make millennial jokes, text memes. They are real people, and they feel like it.
Alex begins the novel thinking he's completely straight. And slowly, he's coming into his own, realizing that he's been attracted to men and women his entire life. His bisexuality is something natural to him, almost a name put onto something he's never really needed a name for. It's an earth-shattering revelation but it's not the end of his world: it's a beautiful beginning. Bisexual characters are never the protagonists, but in this story, Alex gets to shine.
I absolutely adored this novel. It was everything: funny, smart, charming, and captured that certain quality that few romance books have: magic.
"Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuinston is out now, everywhere you buy books.