Alex Claremont-Diaz’s mother is the first female President. At the age of eighteen, he was out front in the spotlight and his good looks and charismatic personality had the eyes of a nation on him. Now a college senior, the cameras and tabloids follow him wherever he goes and Alex does well holding his own. Except when he is in the presence of Henry, who also goes by the title of the Prince of England. Henry gets under Alex’s skin so much and when an altercation (Alex will tell you it was all a misunderstanding) hits tabloids around the globe, Alex is ordered to make amends to take on damage control and a fake bromance of sorts is arranged.
Henry will tell you that he wants nothing to do with the First Son, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. Henry just knows what his family will and will not allow and his entire life is about duty and obligation. But spending time with Alex awakens desires that once unleashed cannot be contained, and Alex and Henry fall head first into a secret relationship. But Alex sees beyond Henry’s title and the men offer each other love, as well as a place to feel safe. However, Alex’s mother is up for re-election and Alex and Henry have to decide where they fit into each other’s lives and what they truly want their future to look like.
This book is so many things. It’s fun with witty banter. It’s poignant. It’s intense with longing and sexual discovery. It is having to live up to incredible family expectations while taking a stand and desperately wanting to come down on the right side of history.
Every time I set this book down, I was thinking about it, and so much of this book hinges on Alex. He is a social media dream, but he is also young and flawed in the human sense and we are given immediate and intimate access to him. With his mother the first female president, it follows some of current politics, while offering an alternate reality. However, Alex’s story still remains the focus with the political arena a constant hum at his side without being overwhelming.
Alex is finishing college and wants to get right to work on his mother’s re-election campaign and setting on his own course of being elected to Congress. He has a lot of obligations and his path crosses with Henry, the Prince of England. The guys do not like each other. At least that’s what is on the surface. Henry knows he is gay, but his grandmother, the Queen, has made her feelings on the subject known and when Alex is realizing he is bisexual, his realization becomes a debriefing and a power point presentation.
Henry and Alex become passionate about each other. Their moments are hidden and stolen and when they can’t be together, because an ocean separates them, they write emotional emails to each other with all the hallmarks of first love. The language of the characters is current without trying too hard and they play off each other and complement each other so well. Their interactions range from soft and soothing, to can’t keep their hands off each other, and it’s all perfectly timed.
The book also shows what life in the White House is like for Alex as he is “handled” 100% of the time with no boundaries for personal space and it seemed his handler couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge Alex was growing up and was in his early 20s. There are moments that read younger, like a YA novel, but then there are layered moments that show Alex’s depth and Alex’s mother was a refreshing character as she stood behind her children. The secondary characters all add to the story and while they all have a purpose, there are a few loose threads regarding these secondary characters that were not fully tied up at the end that left me wondering.
The romance is strong here with moments to make you swoon and moments to make you laugh and moments to keep you fully entertained. The ending, while hard won, was neat and a maybe a little too easy by the final scene, but what else can be expected as Alex dates “Prince Charming.” Red, White & Royal Blue is an engaging and captivating read that is easy to recommend.