This was election year so it was sort of fitting to read a contemporary romance with a political election as the backdrop. I found this to be one of those books for me that when I started reading it I wasn’t that impressed with it due to my feelings about the heroine (it was not getting my vote at that point). Thankfully I’m rarely a quitter so I read on and after the first half of the book found myself delightfully surprised (book started pulling ahead in the polls) and glad that I pushed forward (it got my vote when Election day came around).
The story revolves around Assistant to Senator Halloway, Grace Santiago. Grace has known the Senator since she was a young girl when her mother went to work for him as a cook. He encouraged her through her father walking out on her and her mother, he mentored her, he helped pay her way to attend university and now she’s giving back by working on his staff. The Senator is near eighty, but he determines that he’s got one more campaign for office in him though Grace privately thinks his health won’t stand up to it and he’s slipping a little. She finds herself busting tail to keep up with his vague memory, faux pas and demanding needs. She devotes so much time to him that she doesn’t have a life outside of work and now its just going to get worse with a campaign going on.
And into this atmosphere walks Ethan Castle her old flame from law school. In her mind, he is the reason that she never finished school and never started the political career she set out on. Ethan remembers Grace too, but he remembers the past a bit differently than Grace when she inexplicably left school and left him with no explanation. Now years later, when he’s become a huge success as a campaign manager, he is surprised to see her at a social function with the Senator. He is determined more than ever to get to the bottom of why she disappeared and to figure out why Grace is the only memorable woman in his past.
Grace and Ethan play a bit of cat and mouse, but things really start to heat up when he accepts the position of campaign manager for a rival for Halloway’s Senate seat.
The plot on this one was good. I loved the insider’s view of a Senatorial race and what it’s like in a Senator’s day and about their office. I enjoyed the possibilities of a romance that ‘crossed enemy lines’ so to speak.
What I wasn’t too fond of- at first- was Grace’s wishy-washy personality and issues. Yes, I understand how it must have been for her to be caught in a compromising photograph that was taken by a supposed friend and used as blackmail and yes, I get it that it would be hard to deal with having a father walk out and feel rejected. I do get all that, but what I didn’t get was where it was alright to first blame Ethan for his part in the compromising pose (she was a consenting adult and whole-heartedly into what they were doing) and then to hold him at arms length with all her rules years later. I didn’t like that she was so selfishly wrapped up in her issues. But then she started to grow. She owned to her mistakes and started to live a little with Ethan’s help. It ended up being very satisfying to see Grace grow so much from the first part of the book to the end.
Just as an aside, I got to where I was eager to see what spectacular sexy clothing stunt she was going to pull around each holiday. Its a toss-up between the Wonder Woman costume at Halloween or the hint that she wore shamrock printed undies on Paddy’s Day.
Now Ethan, he was Grace’s opposite in some ways. He was confident about his career and his sex appeal to the point of arrogance, but he mostly did it to get Grace to lighten up. I liked how this confident arrogance was juxtaposed with his vulnerability of giving Grace his heart. He really grew too from the beginning when he was more mercenary about his job to the end when he started considering career choices that actually touched him.
If you’re looking for a nice Contemporary Romance where the romance is steamy between two people that really come into their own by the end, give this one a try.