First Impressions – Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston

Author: Casey McQuiston
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Publication date: 14 May 2019
Media type: Print (Paperback)
Pages: 421

Taken from

This is less of a ‘First Impressions’ than what I’d anticipated when I started this book three hours ago, because I’m halfway through it and I can’t seem to put it down. I’ll probably end up writing the rest of this post when I’m done, because what I’m currently feeling for this book is like what the two main leads feel about each other – miserable while apart.

At the time of writing this paragraph, I finished the entire book in one sitting, in six hours. This book beat my sleep schedule, and I’m all for it (once in a while, though. I love my sleep). Since I’ve read the entire thing, I could do a review, but I’ll stick to giving you my impression of the book keeping the first five chapters in mind, without any spoilers.

The book follows the love story of Alex, the son of the first woman president of the United States of America, and Prince Henry, the second grandson of the Queen of the United Kingdom. Alex’s intense dislike for his British ‘counterpart’, kept under wraps for the most part, translates into an altercation during an international event, and, to save face, the two are pushed into social events together and made to pretend like they’re ‘best friends’.

Alex’s intense dislike for Henry reduces the better he gets to know him, and they actually become friends even before Alex realises it. But what do they do, when they cross the line of ‘bromance’ and become an actual romance? What does it mean for Alex’s mother, the current POTUS, who’s running for the presidential elections a second time? And what will it do to the Royal Family and the image that they hold in the eyes of their people?

The language of this book is contemporary for the most part, and follows Alex as the first main lead. There are many moments where the author’s literary skills really shine through, later on in the emails that our two leads exchange, as well as in the regular, extremely gripping narrative. The story  is well paced, with not a single wasted event, and all the secondary characters get their moments to shine and really come through. The romance isn’t kept separate from their daily life – something that gets my goat when I read certain romantic narrations – and the effect it has on their daily life is real and profound.

It also explores the possibilities of a lady POTUS, and various situations faced by People of Colour and those in the LGBTQ+ community, leaning heavily towards the LGBTQ+ side. Personally, I’m a sideline supporter, so I couldn’t begin to imagine the struggles they’ve been through and continue to go through in both small and big ways, but there is a safe space for them here in this book, and I’m all for it.

As far as stories go, though, it’s a very feel-good story – apart from the romance, the friendships between the main and the secondary leads are real, believable and enjoyable to read about. The relationship between Alex and his mother Ellen, the POTUS is heart-warming, and his friendships with his sister and the granddaughter of the VP feel genuine. The whole bunch of early 20-somethings get you to root for them, laugh with them and cry with them. While still reading the initial chapters, I sensed that it would either end in tragedy, or the main leads would get the happiness that they deserved towards the end, but I was really curious to know how the author achieves it eventually – international relations and all. But I kept going till the end, and I wasn’t disappointed.

If I hadn’t finished the book, I’d continue reading it. And as far as re-reading is concerned, I’m glad I have the physical copy of the book, because I’d love to read it again as a whole, or just cherry-pick my favourite parts and go through those. Either way, it’s definitely a multiple – time read for me.

My impression: Gripping, engaging narrative with fleshed out characters. A story that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy in the stomach and wanting more.

My recommendation: Make this your weekend plan, because once you pick it up, it’ll be hard to put down. If you like romance, friendship, a compelling story and LGBTQ+ representation, then you’ve come to the right place.

If you’ve already read this book, or are currently reading this book, let me know what you felt about it! I always enjoy knowing other people’s reaction to the things I’ve experienced.

I won’t be doing a review – I’m no literary God, and scrutinizing someone’s hard work is something I don’t think I’d want to do on principle. I think I’m a lot happier giving you what I feel about a book when I start it, a couple of chapters into the book, and how it feels to me at that point.

I’m glad you joined me on this cloud today, and I hope to see you soon. Until then, take care and stay safe!

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