Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book that features a party
Book: Red, White, and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston
It's hard to overstate how much I loved this book. Alex, the son of the first woman US president, has a longstanding rivalry with Henry, a British prince, until a very public argument sends them both crashing into a $75,000 cake. Their political handlers demand that they pretend to be best friends at various public outings, which they grudgingly do, until an unexpected kiss makes Alex question everything he thought he knew about Henry - and himself. They start a passionate top-secret love affair that absolutely must not become public...you see where this is going, right?
The banter between the characters is smart, profane and hilarious. (Who knew two people trying to make their schedules overlap could be so hot?) They email each other quotes from letters between known and reputed same-sex lovers, and it ties perfectly with the story. The conflicts arise naturally from the characters and don't require contrived circumstances or misunderstandings (a peeve of mine in romance). My one quibble is that there are a lot of scenes of Alex (and sometimes Henry) getting drunk, to the point where I wondered if it was leading up to an intervention. Granted, they're in their 20's, and there was nothing that called consent into question - it just seemed a bit overdone.
For the Popsugar category, the book actually features several parties, starting with the wedding cake disaster and ending with election night for Alex's mother. (One could also count the Democratic Party, I suppose.) But the real magic is a New Year's Eve party, where Alex discovers that a kiss from a prince can prove the fairy tales right.