I hate electoral politics and think politicians and staffers are all creeps. Should I read Special Interests?
I’ve written before about politics in romance novels, about how I think all romance novels are political but some politics announce themselves while others hide in plain sight. So if you read romance, I would say you’re already reading political books.
But…the politics in Special Interests aren’t hidden, not even a little. The hero, Parker, is a senior aide to an important senator; the heroine, Millie, works for a construction union. The book revolves around a budget negotiation. It is very much about the American political process–good, bad, and indifferent.
Further, it’s partisan. Millie and Parker are both liberal Democrats, though being members of the same party doesn’t help them. They argue about politics and their different orientations toward the political process, and what these differences mean about their personalities, are at the heart of the conflict in the book.
Despite all that, I don’t think it’s a partisan book. There are characters in the book who are “bad” (broadly speaking) who agree with our hero and heroine politically. There are characters in the book who are “good” (again broadly speaking) who are conservative. I don’t want to spoil the end of the budget subplot, but it isn’t achieved at anyone’s expense. It isn’t about demonizing or lionizing either party.
The next book in the series isn’t partisan at all and is in general less overtly political. The third book is going to feature a cross-party romance. Things worked out the way they did in Special Interests because it felt like the truest representation of the characters and the place, not because I have any sort of agenda. Most importantly, I don’t think that one’s enjoyment of the book is contingent on agreeing with the characters.
So should you read the book if you think Washington is a cesspool of corruption? Only you can answer that. If anything to do with laws and politics raises your blood pressure, probably not. (Though in light of all the discussion about online reviewing and author backlash, let me say that if you don’t like the book–either because of politics or anything else–I totally support your right to review it honestly however and wherever you want. Reviews are for readers not writers. While bad reviews are unpleasant, I’ll live and I won’t harass you about it. Promise.)
But if you want a (I hope!) witty, sexy, honest portrait of young DC staffers trying to make the federal budget and love work, I think Special Interests is for you.