Casey McQuiston started writing their debut novel, the 2019 bestseller Red, White & Royal Blue, in early 2016 as a “Veep-esque affectionate send-up of American liberal politics,” according to this interview with the Los Angeles Public Library. The tone of the book changed, they explain, after the election, becoming more hopeful. Since its release, readers have been scrambling to find books that hit the same notes, because once you’ve read RWRB, you just need more. While some of us (ahem) read it a dozen times before moving on, other readers are looking for books like Red, White & Royal Blue after their first — and I’ve got some great reads for all of us!
Released on May 14, 2019, RWRB hit The New York Times Best Seller list on June 2. Later that year, the book won the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance and Best Debut. In 2020, it was an Alex Award winner, an award given to adult novels that appeal to teen readers.
First, let’s talk about what makes this book so special. If you haven’t read it, the basic plot goes like this: Alex, first son of (the first female president of) the United States, hates Henry, the younger grandson of the queen of England. Forced to attend Henry’s older brother’s wedding, he picks a fight and they end up falling into the extremely expensive wedding cake…in front of a lot of photographers, landing them on the front pages of all the tabloids. Their PR people order them to become fake friends and pretend they were play-fighting. They make a few appearances together, and reluctantly become friends. Then Henry kisses Alex, and things escalate quickly. From enemies to fake friends to secretly banging, all while dodging the press and their families’ politics.
To be honest, there are no books like Red, White & Royal Blue…but there are some great reads that hit some of the same notes. I’ve separated these by trope, and tried to include adult, new adult, and young adult titles in every category. The majority of these books are queer, and they’re all great reads! Read on for 19 books like Red, White & Royal Blue!
Fake Dating Books
Okay, so Henry and Alex fake a friendship, rather than a romantic relationship, but since that is one of the most unique aspects of the book, let’s look at some great fake dating books that might scratch the itch.
D’Vaughn & Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins
Never mind fake dating, these two have to fake wedding plan! There’s $100,000 on the line as D’Vaughn and Kris sign up to appear on Instant I Do, a reality series where they have to fool their loved ones into believing they’re engaged and plan a wedding in six weeks. D’Vaughn is looking for a way to come out to her family, but Kris is looking for love.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Fake dating plus enemies to lovers! Luc’s famous musician father is making a comeback, which makes it terrible timing for Luc to be photographed while having a particularly messy night. His job in jeopardy, he looks for a stand-up fake boyfriend to make him look good, and vegetarian barrister Oliver is perfect. Sure, they don’t like each other, but they can help each other out.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
When a video of retired rugby player Zaf carrying PhD student Dani out of a building during a fire drill goes viral, he realizes this is his chance to leverage the spotlight to promote his charity…but he needs Dani’s help, because the public only has eyes for #DrRugBae. Dani is looking for some no-strings sex, so she agrees to his plan.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella is autistic and doesn’t enjoy sex. She wants to be better at it, though, so she hires an escort to help her. Michael can help her learn to enjoy sex, but of course they both develop feelings.
I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson
Anyone can fake date their enemy…what about fake dating your ex? Oh, and P.S. you’re still in love with him. Good luck! When Hudson begs Kian to pretend they’re still together, he doesn’t know his parents will invite Kian to a family wedding. Kian agrees, because Hudson can help him get an important internship.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Popular Hani’s friends don’t believe she’s bisexual, because she’s never dated a girl…so she says she is dating Ishu, a candidate for Head Girl who her friends hate. Ishu agrees on the condition that Hani help her gain popularity to guarantee that she’ll win the election.
Henry is the younger grandson of the queen of England, and Alex is American royalty — in this case, the first son. Readers have of course noticed the parallels to Meghan Markle (TV royalty) and Prince Harry, but McQuiston had no insider knowledge while writing the book, and in fact told The Advocate: “I had no idea those things were going to happen, like Harry and Meghan deciding to be like, ‘Peace out, I’m going to Canada’. When I wrote the entire first draft, they literally had not even acknowledged that they were together. What kind of third eye did I have open when I was writing this?”
Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
American teen Millie goes to a Scottish boarding school in an effort to get away from her best friend/sort-of ex and all her complicated feelings about her. New roommate Flora is ready to fill the role of best friend/sort-of girlfriend, with one small complication: she’s a literal princess.
American Royalty by Tracey Livesay
American rapper Dani’s reputation is in trouble, so she jumps at the opportunity when British prince Jameson invites her to play at a tribute concern for his father. He has no idea how raunchy her music is, and only hires her because her nickname is Duchess — but it turns out he likes what she has to offer, even if the queen does not.
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Makeda’s grandmother had a fling with a runaway prince, making Makeda royalty…maybe. She’s too busy watching her life go up in flames — luckily not literally — to deal with Beznaria from the World Federation of Monarchies, who is searching for the missing princess, but Bez is persuasive and manages to get Makeda on a boat to Ibarania where there’s only one bed.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
What if we had a princess and a commoner romance, but it’s fantasy? This book may seem the least like RWRB of every book on this list, but it has a beautiful queer romance at its core. Malini is an imprisoned princess. Priya is a powerful priestess hiding her abilities while working as a servant, cleaning Malini’s cell.
Enemies to Lovers Books
For some of us, the turn from hate to love is where it gets really good. Who can forget how angry Alex was while he was kissing Henry under the portrait of Alexander Hamilton?
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy and Josh work together at a merged publisher, and she hates him. Obviously he hates her, too, but when they’re both up for the same job, it starts looking like maybe he doesn’t…and maybe she doesn’t, either.
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Lina was left at the altar, and it was all her fiancé’s brother’s fault. She’s spent three years rebuilding her wedding planning business, and is invited to apply for a job at a very nice hotel. The only problem? She’ll have to work with Max, the hotel’s marketing manager…and the best man who ruined her wedding. If Lina can get over her desire to punish him, they could be good partners at work and elsewhere.
She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
Basketball player Scottie backs into cheerleader Irene’s car after losing a game to her ex-girlfriend. While Irene’s car is in the shop, Scottie has to drive her to and from school, and in an effort to make her ex jealous, she convinces Irene to fake date her. It goes a little too well.
Charming LGBTQ+ Books
Henry is gay and Alex is bisexual, and most of the supporting cast is queer, too. Here are some more delightful queer books like Red, White & Royal Blue to enjoy!
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
McQuiston’s second novel is every bit as charming as RWRB, and just as unique: August is new to New York, commuting to college classes on the Q train and working at a diner to pay for her room in a crowded apartment. She is taken with Jane, who she meets on the train, and slowly figures out that Jane is stuck there, outside of her own time in the 1970s. With the help of the queer found family her roommates form, August tries to figure out how to get Jane off the train and into her timeline.
Heartstopper by Alice Osman
This charming graphic novel follows Charlie, who was outed the previous year at school, and Nick, a rugby player who becomes his unlikely friend…and crush. This sweet friends to lovers story is now a series on Netflix.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Dev is a producer on reality dating show Ever After (think The Bachelor) and he is tasked with helping this year’s Prince Charming, tech genius Charlie, get over his anxiety so he looks good on camera. But Charlie would rather spend time with Dev than any of the contestants.
Check, Please! By Ngozi Ukazu
Another graphic novel, this one new adult and compiled from a popular webcomic! Former figure skater Bitty is the new guy on the Samwell University hockey team, and he’s finding the college-level game very different than the coed league he played in back home! But he’ll fake his way through it while crushing on the grumpy team captain, Jack.
How to be a Normal Person by TJ Klune
Gus lives in a small town in the house his father left him, with a ferret named Harry S. Truman. He owns a video store, also left to him by his father, which has approximately three customers: the old lady Vespa gang We Three Queens. Gus has no idea what to think of Casey, the newest person in town, but Casey seems to think Gus is just wonderful. Can he learn to be normal enough to deserve Casey? (Spoiler: he doesn’t have to!)
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian
I have stuck with contemporary romances on this list, since RWRB is contemporary, albeit in an alternate timeline, but if you love historical romance you will love Cat Sebastian. Honestly, any of her books will work — they are all full of banter and queer people. This one involves heist planning, which is always great fun.
The Amazon Prime movie of Red, White and Royal Blue is streaming now! Hungry for more romance books? We’ve got gathered some of the best steamy romance novels, a list of the best cinnamon roll heroes in romance, and the best romance movies based on books.
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