Reviewed by Mandi
My first “A” read of 2015 comes early and strong. This is the third book in Emma Barry’s political series (all stand alones) and I enjoyed the first two. I fully expected to enjoy this book as well, but was surprised by how much I loved this one. I didn’t want to put it down or miss a detail of the both the romance and the campaign. Emma Barry writes romances centered around Washington, DC politics. What could be dry and boring is rich and engaging. From union organizers, to political bloggers to presidential campaign workers, these professions don’t scream sexy fun romance, but she makes it work.
In Party Lines, Lydia and Michael have a random meeting on an airplane, but little do they know how intermingled their lives will become. Lydia is a republican who is the Assistant Deputy Campaign Manager for Voter Outreach for the republican presidential candidate. . Lydia wants to make a difference and is outspoken, stubborn and confident. She wants to be more than just a republican Latina who her boss rolls out when they need her face for issues. While she doesn’t always feel appreciated by her boss, she believes in the republican message and her candidate.
Michael is a democrat and the deputy campaign manager. He works much more close to his presidential candidate and has more cynicism. He may not totally believe in his affair-having candidate, but he still wants to win this election. Michael and Lydia realize they are both headed to Iowa for the caucuses and start to warm each other’s bed at night, even though they are on competing sides.
There are many things I love about this book. First, Lydia and Michael’s banter. Being from opposite parties, and both very smart, they could throw insults at each other all day. But even better, their political talked turned them on. Made them have dirty thoughts.
In the next few weeks, as he had pinballed around the country, they’d exchanged a series of emails and texts about federalism, reserved vs. enumerated vs. concurrent powers and the legislative legacy of the American Civil War. It was sort of hot.
Scratch that – it was incredibly hot.
When they appear in the same city, they have sex, when they were long-distance, they share emails or texts venting about their jobs or ribbing each other with semi-friendly insults on their candidates’ performance.
Emma Barry makes this campaign so interesting. We get a peek at behind the scenes and what it takes to wrangle your candidate into a media savvy, warm loving human. When the candidate doesn’t follow the laid out path, the frustration the people behind the scene have to go through is portrayed well. We see how exhausting it is to have these jobs and sometimes how thankless. These two can have opposing views and not act petty or defensive when the other doesn’t agree. How refreshing! All the while, the author never forgets the romance. It actually takes center stage throughout the book. Michael falls hard for Lydia. He is the one more tired of being on the road and daydreams about a house and picket fence. Lydia is still eager and has energy to spare. She falls for Michael, but she loves her career. She wants to continue to work on campaigns and doesn’t know how that dream would fit with a more static boyfriend. They are mature in their dreams and face their uncertainty in their future well.
“The election will be over in a few months. Then…”
“There will be another one. The problem isn’t our ideological differences, and you know it. I don’t care you’re a Democrat. You don’t care I’m a Republican. The problem is that we’re not other people. You might want to be a guy who goes to the market and cooks—”
“And makes love to you.” He went ahead and called it that because it was.
“Yeah, but we’re on vacation from our real lives here. This isn’t what you want every day of the year for decades on end. Don’t tell me that it is.” She offered the words as a challenge.
She was right, but it also wasn’t that simple. “I’ve done that, the travel and the road, for more than ten years. Maybe I’m ready to transition into consulting. To spending more time in D.C.”
She sat and hovered over him. “But I’m not.”
And in three little words, she’d expressed the problem.
He kissed her and, for the moment at least, let the subject go. The pain didn’t follow it.
They kind of put all the big decisions off until after the November election and then when that time comes, their emotions are raw and sometimes unfair but genuine and real.
Besides all of the political and relationship drama, this is a hot book. Michael is so, so sexy. I can’t think of the right words to describe him – but he always felt more vulnerable and scared of losing Lydia. Scared of showing her his true feelings for fear she would run away. Yet, being in the moment and when his raw emotions come out – damn Michael. Just damn. Lydia is so confident and sexy herself, yet unsure of letting herself get too close because she doesn’t know where their relationship is headed. I loved her. She was never fake or whiney or made excuses.
A smart, well done romance with fast-paced campaign action. Highly recommend.