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?
I can’t remember the last time a book made me this happy. I spent the entire booking laughing and grinning from ear to ear. From the first page, I feel head over heels for these characters, the romance, and the writing. Contemporary rom-coms may not be my genre, but I’m always happy to make an exception for a book this good.
These characters. I mean, these characters. I love them to bits. Alex is the definition of a disaster bi— he’s remarkably good at political strategy, but a lovable dumbass in every other way. It is such a joy to read from his perspective. Henry is a soft little nerd who hates being the center of attention, but loves when Alex is mean to him (always playfully, I assure you).
June is a stressed journalist just trying her best, while Nora is a certifiable genius who doesn’t know how to people. Alex, June, and Nora make up the White House Trio and I love their friendship to bits (I mean, technically Alex and June are siblings, but they’re also friends.)
Bea is a firecracker who doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks, and Pez is an impossible flirt. All six eventually come to make up the Super Six and I love any scene where they’re all together.
Ellen balances being the Leader of the Free World with being a mom. She is amazing at both. Zahra is her no-nonsense right-hand woman who definitely loves these kids more than she lets on. Her constant exasperation at Alex is everything to me.
Alex and Henry’s romance is definitely a hate-to-love, though it takes a slightly different path than you might expect. It quickly becomes more about Alex’s denial over his feelings for Henry than actual loathing. In a way, that makes it more amusing.
Their banter is absolutely fabulous. I think half my highlights on Goodreads are of their banter and the other half are of them waxing poetic over each other. It’s incredibly enjoyable to go back through and reread all my favorite bits.
And, I have to say, this relationship is built up really well. McQuiston has an incredible handle on the pacing of the romance. She takes time to develop the characters individually and as a couple. It makes it clear why these two are willing to risk it all for each other.
I was also really impressed by the writing in this book. For some reason, I never expect much in regards to writing in romance novels. I know it’s my own personal bias, but I can’t shake it. But McQuiston’s writing really impressed me. It’s filled with her personality and perfectly descriptive. What I’d expected to be a colorless vehicle for the story turned out to be another aspect of this book deserving of praise.
My only complaint is that the last third or so becomes a lot more heavily political, including in regards to Alex and Henry’s relationship. McQuiston really seemed to want to push this narrative of change and progress and it didn’t always feel realistic. This America— a world where a woman is president, her family of color lives in the White House, and liberalism is king— is what I’ve dreamed of for years. It just comes across as a little too much wish fulfillment and also way too dependent on the main characters’ relationship.
I almost took off a star for the way this affected my suspension of disbelief. But, in the end, I just couldn’t. This book gave me too many warm fuzzies to give it a demerit.
This book is so cute and funny, but also honest, real, and hopeful. It’s chock-full of diversity, from race to sexuality to mental health. Just thinking about this novel brings a smile to my face. It’s such a wholesome story. If you’re looking for a quality M/M romance— no, if you looking for a quality romance in general— I highly, highly recommend this book.
And, if you like this book, good news! McQuiston’s next book is a F/F romance about two detectives, one of whom is incredibly butch. I need in in my hands immediately. McQuiston has made herself an auto-buy author for me. Just call me a patriot.
So what was up with my sudden hiatus? Well, it was entirely unplanned. I’ve actually been sick for the past week and haven’t felt like writing anything. But I’m starting to get better and feel like myself again, so I’ve decided to make my grand return. And that’s what you missed on Glee.