Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 14, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, New Adult, Romance
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.
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. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
This is a first! My younger daughter, Berk, and I have read and written reviews of the same books before but we’ve never done a chat review. I’m hoping I can talk her into doing more of them because this was really fun! It’s nice to get a younger person’s perspective. 😉
First off, I have to applaud CMcQuiston on giving us our first female POTUS – and a Democrat from Texas at that – in Red, White & Royal Blue! And although I’m disappointed in myself for letting this book languish on my shelf for so long, I’m also happy I waited. I think if I’d read it during the last administration it wouldn’t have carried with it the hope I have right now. So, I know why I picked up this book at Half Price 2 years ago but what made you decide to grab it off my shelf?
My best friend gave me the suggestion in the first couple of months of college, and I didn’t think about it again until Pinterest pulled up some adorable fanart and I just had to read it. I regret nothing.
One other thing I want to talk about before we get into the characters and story…I absolutely relished the political element. I know it was hard to ignore because of international relations, etc., 😉 but I appreciated how politics were discussed, how CMcQuiston didn’t shy away from allowing Alex, June, and Nora to showcase their particular political prowess. Especially Alex. Things – specifically gerrymandering in Texas – were mentioned and I admired CMcQuiston for highlighting issues that are a real problem in our real political system. And I also appreciated how CMcQuiston conveyed the issues stemming from growing up in a household with political parents. Did you like the political element?
I gotta say that I don’t really care for politics or reading things that center around the subject. However, I did like the psychology aspect that CMcQuiston brought into the way that Alex analyzes the politicians around him. And it was interesting to get more of a perspective on the inside of how higher government in the United States works, I know that issues like gerrymandering, media slander, and insider info are part of what happens behind closed doors, and it makes me very upset that it happens but there’s not much I can do about it.
Alright…Alex…I definitely felt like he protested a bit too much about his negative feelings for Henry. 😉 He’s a smart guy so he understands that not everyone is as socially comfortable as he is and yet he didn’t give that first thought to wondering if Henry was an introvert. Nope. He went straight to referring to him as a “condescending prick.” What were your initial thoughts about Alex?
I related a bit to Alex, I’m not as comfortable in the lime light as he is though. I do see where he is coming from when he pegs Henry as condescending. I think that he got too much into psychoanalyzing all of Henry’s mannerisms that Alex convinced himself that Henry hated him from the moment they met in Rio. This doesn’t mean that I think he was right to harbor that many negative feelings about Henry, but I understand how it could happen, because I do the same thing. On a different note, Alex has all of the confidence and easy sarcasm and sass that I aspire to have as a person.
I absolutely adored the setup for them to get better acquainted. And I cherished how organize the whole process felt – from staged events when they were starting out to the emails where they talked about everything and shared famous couples’ love letters. The ways in which they were alike – having very public expectations of them because of who they were related to – made their bond even stronger. They repartee between them was the best! What did you think of Alex and his feelings for Henry? And how their relationship blossomed?
The enemies to lovers trope is one of my favorites honestly. I like how they can start off with witty banter and then it develops into an actual relationship where they feel safe together. From what we see with June, the way Alex shows his love is by playfully making fun of the people that he loves. He never really did that with the other people he wasn’t comfortable with. So it made sense to me that the minute he actually talked to Henry at the Wedding– making fun of him — was the blossoming of how he realized his feelings for Henry. Sending famous love letters back and forth was so cute and honestly relationship goals. It made me laugh that the first people they used were Alexander Hamilton and John Laurence, who I had told you were lovers and we had written evidence, and you didn’t believe me!
You just had to make that last point, didn’t you? Alright, alright…you were right, I was wrong. 😉
Henry. Gotta say I love him and his literature quoting self. 😉 Although there were similarities between him and Alex, there were differences, too. The main one being that Henry never accepted his public persona the way Alex did. Henry was dying to be himself and dying believing he’d never be allowed. I can’t imagine the pressure he was under. And Henry was the furthest thing from arrogant! That part where he said he didn’t think Alex would ever reciprocate his feelings? SWOON! So what was your take on Henry?
I think that Henry’s adorable. Throughout the book both Alex and Henry have to deal with their own internalized homophobia, and I think in Henry’s case it was worse because he was growing up in such a traditional place. Alex had the privilege of having leftist parents who understand that it’s not a choice, or something that can just be ignored. I definitely would not have been able to handle all of the pressure that Henry was under from such a young age. I can’t imagine putting yourself out on a limb and telling someone your deepest desires knowing that they might not be reciprocated. For an introverted man, Henry’s got guts. I would not have done that.
And are you an Alex fan or a Henry fan? 😉
I am a fan of both but if I were to put myself into the role, I would be Alex and date Henry.
CMcQuiston did a phenomenal job at creating an engaging and dynamic supporting cast. June was the epitome of a care-taking older sister. Nora made me laugh with all her number crunching. And she was the perfect complement to Alex and June. Ellen and Oscar made me proud when they went all Mama and Papa Bear as well as in their show of support for Alex. I even adored Beatrice, Pez, and Zahra & Shaan! They all created a rich tapestry behind Alex and Henry which only enhanced their story. Your thoughts on the supporting cast?
I think the whole gang were like the perfect found family. They all have such good chemistry. Although I don’t know what it’s like to have divorced parents, I was able to have huge amounts of empathy for Alex and June, and the others in the White House who were there to help deal with both Ellen and Oscar when they needed it. I think Ellen making powerpoints to show her support and talk through decisions with Alex is absolutely hilarious. As someone with a love for statistics it was so cool to have representation from Nora as a fellow statistician, way to represent! I loved the backstory on Beatrice. It really made me think more about mental health and addiction in people who are in the spotlight a lot like that. Pez and Henry have such a beautiful friendship too – it was like the perfect introvert/extrovert friendship, so cute.
I couldn’t be happier with the ending. The culmination of it all gave me hope for the future despite this being fiction. LOL How did it leave you feeling?
I absolutely adored this book. I wish/hope I can have the kind of love that Alex and Henry share together: couple goals. It was really inspiring to read the story where the characters learn to be who they truly are. I can’t believe that I didn’t read it sooner.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: