Author: Casey McQuiston
Overview from Goodreads:
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. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.
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. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
Usually I don’t like the books that are overly hyped; however, this book was everything I like about rom-com books. Each character had just enough back stories to where you understand each of their actions, but it’s not overly explained to where you feel like you’re being spoon-fed exactly what the story should be at each moment. Our two main characters are Alex and Henry. On the American side is the First Son, Alexander (“Alex”) Gabriel Claremont-Diaz who is not only biracial (Mexican and white), but also bisexual. On the British side is Prince Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Winsor, who is a white and a closeted gay to his family and the public.
Alex and Henry both have qualities that make them likeable and unlikeable, which add a nice sense of realism to the story. I can see why some people wouldn’t like this book (based on either the events or characters), but for me none of those seemed too big of an issue and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of reading this book. Even though it’s slightly longer than the average rom-com novel, I read this book in a single afternoon and would gladly add this to my list of books to re-read whenever I want a feel good story.
Our story takes place where a democratic single mother won the 2016 election and is now in the process of gearing up for her 2020 re-election campaign. To bridge relations between the U.S. and the U.K., Alex is forced to attend events and interact with Henry. Through forced interactions, both are put into situations where they have to learn more about each other. It’s a Hallmark movie come to life where everything is perfect in the right places with just the right around conflict thrown in to make it an interesting tale. You have not only the obstacle of the two not living in the same country, but you also have politics and the fact that Henry is not openly gay to consider when they try to move forward as a couple.
The writing in this book was very relatable and the banter was enjoyable to read. The family dynamics for Alex was very heart-warming as they supported him as much as they could and always wanted the best for him. Alex and Henry’s text/email exchanges were very entertaining as they read like two people flirting in their twenties with charming and witty comments back and forth while still mixing in being interested in learning about the other. I had a hard time understanding why they exchanged so many emails instead of texting. I’ve lived in the UK before and it was never a problem texting people in the US on the east or west coasts even with the time differences. It was hard to understand why two tech-savvy people would email instead of organizing video chats or just texting (the time difference isn’t that huge to arrange at least some direct interactions) and those times when it was late at night the texts are still there to reply to just like an email at any time of day.
As a word of caution (if this isn’t your type of reading), there are A LOT of sex scenes in this novel. It works really well with the story and helps to build up the momentum for the relationship between the two characters, but it could be writing that’s not for everyone. Another thing is that U.S. politics are a huge focus as well and it portrays viewpoints in a manner that fits the story more than people accurate to real-life (I can’t really write more than that as part of it can give pieces of the story away.) Essentially, you need to read the political topics with a grain of salt and not read too much into it as it is written to fit the narrative of the story and not written to reflect accurate politics (especially how 2016 actually went in comparison to how 2016 went in the story).
This was an incredible debut novel that just puts a smile on your face as it was so adorable and heart-warming relationship between our two main characters. I could easily re-read this book multiple times and still not be bored or annoyed with what took place. I would absolutely love a sequel that follows Alex and Henry into their new journey as a couple and just all the antics they could get into as they further navigate going the distance. Also, while I’m at it, I wouldn’t mind some spin-off novels for Alex’s group of friends as they were all entertaining and deserve to have their individual stories told.