Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Published: May 14th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance, Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
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?
Toward the end of this review, there is going to be a spoiler. It’s something I don’t usually do, but I after talking about it with a couple of my friends, I think it’s something I should talk about. I will give a warning before I talk about it.
Anyway this book. It was exactly the book I didn’t know I needed. It was nearly perfect. It was romance, but the romance wasn’t the only focus of the book. There was a great balance of love and sex with everything else going on in the intense and high pressure lives the two main characters live.
The main thing (probably the only thing) I had an issue with was this book promised enemies to lovers. This brings images of 150K word Harry/Draco fanfiction where they spend 149K of those words insulting each other and then in the last chapter realize they love actually love each other. Although there is a shot out to Harry/Draco fanfiction, Alex and Henry end up getting together pretty quick and there wasn’t a “shut up” “make me” moment that every enemy to lovers story needs. This was more casual acquaintances that dislike each other because they don’t really know each other fall into a cake and then in love. which is different.
I want to talk about the sex for a second, because I’ve been reading other reviews in as I got ready to write this one, and I think I have something kind of important. This book isn’t YA. It isn’t adult but it’s not YA. The sex scenes aren’t graphic, but they aren’t as tame as you would see in a YA novel. This book is definitely new adult. The characters are in their 20s and act like it. It’s in between what we would think of as an adult book, like the book I reviewed last week Landslide by Rainbow Rowell and a YA romance book like a book I reviewed a couple weeks ago The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I think these sex scenes are tasteful. There are several, but I think it’s balanced. There are large parts of the books where they say they were together but the focus of the chapter is something else. There are more in the first part of Alex and Henry’s relationship, and I think it makes sense with the arc of the story. I really enjoyed it.
I do feel like Alex and Henry would have been found out a lot faster in real life. As a person who paid probably an unhealthy amount of attention to Prince Harry when he was in his early twenties, I don’t think a Prince of Wales could be having secret meetings, especially with a person as visible as the adult child of a President without being photographed constantly. It wasn’t unrealistic enough to pull me out of the story because this is a fiction book, but if you’re a stickler for realism, that will bother you.
I really loved the emails. I loved the quotes between queer historical people (especially two in particular more on that in a moment). I loved how Henry talked about King James and his lover George. I loved how there was no “I think these two IRL people were queer because…” explanations, there were just quotes for recognizable names from history.
I must address the Laurens/Hamilton letters because that’s my brand. Those two weirdoes wrote some letters to each other. I like how it was woven into the story, Alex bringing up the idea that maybe one of our founding fathers wasn’t quite exactly straight. I will admit that when I read the letters you can find on the internet, I was wearing shipper googles, but it’s kind of impossible not to read between the lines of those letters, especially since the letters we have between Hamilton and his wife are worded very similarly, and I don’t think they were just friends. I mean: “You should not have taken advantage of my sensibility to steal into my affections without my consent.” – Hamilton to Laurens. Just bros being bros.
In the book, I thought the use of lines from the letters and others were well done. I think it brought a layer to the long-distance relationship between Alex and Henry. You can feel how they feel about each other through them.
Now for the spoiler.
I did not know how bad my election anxiety was until the last 45 minutes of this audiobook. It’s supposed to be a happy ending, so I knew what was going to happen, but when states started to turn red and it looked bad for President Claremont. I was so close to throwing up. I had one of the worse anxiety reactions I have ever had reading a book. I know a lot of people feel the same way, but I didn’t think it would be that bad. I was so nervous. I was shaking and near tears. This book is good and it ends very cute, but the time we spend watching the election result was intense.
I’m going to put another spoiler in white right here: The boys also get publicly outed, which I know can be very triggering for some. It was well done and well handled, but I know it can be traumatic for some.
Overall, I loved this book so much. It was cute and fun. Something I really needed. I highly recommend it. Please read this book!
Until next time Internet,