By Casey McQuiston
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.23
Genre: LGBTQ Romance
Publication Date: May 14th 2019
Format Read: Libby Ebook
Goodreads Summary: 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?
I truly cannot believe that it took me over two years after this book came out to finally get around to reading it. The book had been completely hyped up for so long, and on my tbr for so long, that when I finally got around to reading it, I was a bit worried that it wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. I have to say though, it was almost even better than I was expecting. I don’t read a ton of romance at ALL, as I’m sure you know of you’ve taken the time to peruse my Book Review Index, and that percentage has only gone down in the past couple of years since I stopped blogging. I only decided to read this book at all because of the hype surrounding it, and because it was gay and so I couldn’t pass it up altogether.
In the words of my friend that finally convinced me to read the book, “RWRB is like if someone wrote really really good fanfiction and it became a book”. As a lifelong lover of fanfiction, and knowing that my friend has decently high standards when it comes to books, I finally bit the bullet and put this on hold. I have to say, she was completely right.
The essence of this book is that a woman is the president, and she has 2 late college / recent grad aged kids, a daughter and a son named Alex. They are joined by the VP’s granddaughter, Nora. The trio also happens to be the same age as the royal trio across the pond– Prince Henry, his billionaire best friend, and his sister Bea. Henry and Alex hate each other. They have an intense rivalry that leads to them doing some pretty dumb things in public, creating a PR disaster for the crown and the white house. And right at the start of the reelection campaign too!
Henry and Alex are forced to spend time together to remedy their actions, and what we soon find out is that Henry is gay… very gay. When he tries to kiss Alex, we find out that Alex is bisexual! Yay! They then embark upon a very cute enemies to lovers, opening up to each other about their lives. It’s extraordinarily cute, and as someone whose favorite genre of romance is enemies to lovers, I was fully bought in.
McQuiston did a great job of making the friendships and romances in this book feel very real. The six young adults that the novel centers around all had varied relationships and interactions with each other, and somehow all of them felt like real and full people, even if they were not the center of the novel. There were so many side plots that never felt like a detraction from the main point. Instead, they were included for character development that felt natural and complex. If you are looking for a story that has great character development, then this is 100% the story for you. I think you would be hard pressed to get much better.
One thing that I was nervous for going in is that this was either going to be a very idealized non-homophobic society, or one where homophobia became the crux of the conflict. Although it definitely leaned slightly more towards the latter, it did focus much more on the happy parts of being gay, and only threw in the homophobia as a fun little side dish. All of the most central 9 characters were super accepting, and it was only a couple of people who were rude. This meant that it felt real while not making the homophobia feel overwhelming to those who were reading it. Parts of this book did make me cry. So much of it really hit home for me, but I do feel good about how small of a percentage of the book’s conflict was gay vs. homophobe.
A ton of this book is written in the form of emails back and forth between Henry and Alex. They referenced classic literature that I’ve never heard of before, and wrote prosaically at some length. This part felt a little slow to me at some times, and that’s the reason I ended up giving the book four stars instead of five. Most of the book was fast paced and interesting, but at times the email scenes would begin to delve too deeply into a classic literature that I had no former knowledge with. That being said, I don’t think you need this knowledge to enjoy the book, it just would have helped.
All in all, I loved this book and would strongly recommend it to anyone who loves cutesy romances, great character development, or just some hot fanfiction about the prince. I still can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner.