A MelanieM Audio Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Ramón de Ocampo (Narrator)


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

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?

It was through another book recommendation that allowed me to find the perfect romance story and what I regard as an audio treasure,Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Ramón de Ocampo (Narrator).  The only thing that could have made this even more splendid?  Finding out that the author,Casey McQuiston, had an entire back library to stories to dive into.  Alas, this is the author’s only published work.  But it’s such a gift that I immediately went out and also bought the ebook too.  Perhaps I’ll even see about a trifecta if a paperback version is available.  That’s how over the moon I am about this story.

I dunno.  I think that cover ought to glow or something just to give off a hint as to what awaits readers inside.  It wouldn’t be amiss as I feel as though Casey McQuiston has written the perfect contemporary romance story and Ramón de Ocampo has, in every way possible, given voice to it.

It’s her incredibly moving story, a straightforward narrative of two young men and their complicated path towards a relationship and love, but the actual novel format, which helps elevate the story into something that elevates it,  is interspersed with texts and emails, both funny and poignant, sometimes both, with the odd late hour phone call thrown in for good measure.  Alex and Henry use everything from emojis to moving literary quotes to relate moods and send deep love (as the relationship progresses).  And the structure immediately connects the reader into the “now” of the moment and the heart of whatever both men are feeling, alone and with each other.

The story works from the beginning to introduce us to these characters and yes, the entire cast of this story, all of whom are finely crafted, multilayered, and so memorable that I’m smiling now just thinking about them all. On both sides of the Atlantic.  Because while this tale is all about the romance and relationship of US first son Alex Claremont-Diaz and  HRH Prince Henry of Wales, it’s also about the people who support them (their sisters and friends like June, Nora and Pez, the people who protect them, and even  parents like the Senator and the President and more).  It’s also about service to one’s country, and about hope, and making the world a better place. And yes, total deep heart to heart love.

This story had me laughing, crying a box of tissues worth of tears, and then back to the puddle of heartwarming, hold this book tight, love affirming, hope filled, reader goo. When they put out that question “What books would you take to a deserted island?”, I now can answer firmly that Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is right there in the top 5, maybe top three.   If I can bring a narrator along then Ramón de Ocampo is coming too.

Because he may be a new favorite as well.  He swings effortlessly between accents, English, American, Hispanic….no problem.  And different people within those accents.  Again with ease. I didn’t want to stop listening…take the dogs out?  The story kept going.  Listened through dinner, lunch, even breakfast.  It was hard even to go to sleep until I had finished it.  It was and is perfection.  I really feel any words are almost inadequate to describe how beautifully written, how   gorgeous a story, how memorable a love story you will find within these pages.

And what a splendid job Ramón de Ocampo does with the author’s tale.

This will be in my Best of 2019 this year.  Yes, I highly recommend it in both ebook and audio.  Get both.

Cover art is cute, but honestly nothing on the cover will live up to what is inside.

Audio Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Listening Length: 12 hours and 15 minutes

Published May 14th 2019 by Macmillan Audio
Original Title Red, White & Royal Blue
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston


Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe the goodness that is bundled up in this book. Unique? Exciting? Interesting? Challenging? Amazing? Magnificent? Superb? Heartwarming? Heartbreaking? Educational? Eye-opening?

Full of both ahhh and ah-hah moments, this story emitted a sort of sticky substance that made my kindle adhere to my hand until the last page was complete. I haven’t read a book so difficult to put down in quite some time.

The characters had character—another trait not always present in stories I’ve read. They were also young, vibrant, intelligent, respectful of their parents and family, and knew their places in the world. But they fell in love and everything they thought they knew turned topsy-turvy.

The royal family was just that—decidedly royal—and the queen and the crown prince were remarkably stuffy traditionalists. Henry, our second-born prince who falls in love, was conscious of his role in the family and in history. He knew he was gay from an early age and was fearful that his grandmother, the queen, would never accept him as he was and would force a marriage to beget heirs—the royal lineage being of utmost importance. He was right. Her opinion seemed encased in concrete. But his mother, who has stayed in the background most of Henry’s life as she grieved her dynamic and carefree Hollywood actor husband who died when Henry was young, surprised him and became his staunch supporter when he needed her most. His sister, Bea, often referred to as the Powder Princess, due to her previous drug addiction, was his bestie. She rocked. She was an outstanding secondary character and helped Henry stay strong in the face of staunch traditionalism.

Alex was a remarkable young man. The son of a Latino father and Caucasian mother, both of whom were attorneys who knew their career path was politics, Alex grew to adulthood among politicians and idealists. Even when his parents divorced, he maintained his own objective in being elected the youngest member of Congress in history. He was bright, witty, and loving, and from the time he met Henry as a young teen, he hated the Brit with a passion. The only problem was that it wasn’t hate he felt for Henry at all and when the two finally overcame their animosity, the sparks started flying—in a good way.

Their letters and emails were a history lesson wrapped up in sweet love and the heartbreak of being a continent apart. I learned more from Ms. McQuiston’s snippets of letters sent between historical figures and authors and her tours of the White House and the Victoria and Albert Museum and other locations than I ever did sitting in a classroom. And yes, a few facts intrigued me so much I looked them up to learn more—something else none of my teachers ever induced in my lazy, history-hating teen self. It’s very evident the author did a great deal of research for this book and I absolutely appreciated every single snippet.

Catch me in a corner at a cocktail party and I will go on and on and on and…you get the picture. This book is number one on my Best of 2019 list. It is definitely in my top ten of all time. There aren’t enough superlatives to give it justice and even trying to describe the story in a way that captures the emotion in it is beyond me. The simple fact is that if you read this book, you will be giving yourself an incredible treat.

The very attractive cover features the title in the colors in the title words against a bright pink background. Two drawn characters are leaning on either side of the the word Blue. Unique and interesting, it not only represents the story but it’s as creative as the author’s imagination.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 425 pages
Expected publication: May 14th 2019 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Original TitleRed, White & Royal Blue
Edition Language English