My Favorite Bits: The Easy Part

Two and a half weeks ago, Party Lines released. In the push to get the book out and recover from the holidays, I don’t think it hit me that I wrote a series–three loosely connected books. And edited it. And now it’s all out.

The Easy Part books can be read in any order but they explore the same theme: the characters have reached the outer edge of young adulthood and are realizing they are unsatisfied with their lives. They are smart, ambitious people who want to change the world, but they haven’t yet and, frankly, they’re unlikely to. But that knowledge is freeing. It permits them to redefine what success means and who they want to share it with while they work to pass a federal budget (Special Interests), expose a corruption scandal (Private Politics), and get someone elected president (Party Lines).

I’d definitely do some things differently if I could have the first books back, but I’m fiercely proud of all three novels.

So as a thank you to everyone who’s read the books and reviewed them and talked with me about them, I wanted to revisit some of my favorite moments.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead!

…favorite hero.

I love them all: Parker for how he rediscovers his idealism and his devotion to his family. Michael for his relentless drive at work and in his pursuit of Lydia. But for me, the winner is Liam from Private Politics. He’s kind and good and optimistic and loyal. He doesn’t look remotely like a typical romance hero, but that’s one of his best qualities. He cannot cook, but he listens. And cuddles. And he brings you cheese fries when you’ve had a bad day.

…favorite heroine.

Hands down, it’s Lydia from Party Lines. While I’m probably most like Millie, Lydia is smart and ambitious and not remotely apologetic about it. Writing her was so much fun because the question wasn’t, “Would she say that?” The answer was always yes, yes she would–except probably in a smarter, wittier, more assertive way. Despite the fact that our politics are opposed, I love her and I think in real life, she should be running the world.

…most deeply buried Easter Egg.

The entire series is full of incredibly random and obtuse references. Alyse gets her name from a character in The Lion in Winter, except I gave her a pretentious spelling because I think her mother would have gotten really into France in the early 1980s as a result of the menu at The Silver Palate. (All my character naming stories are this long.)

My favorite Easter eggs, though, are from Party Lines. First, the book has several references to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” including the opening line (“Michael Picetti dared the universe to pay some of those dividends he’d accumulated”) and the appearance of peaches at a crucial moment. Another, non-Eliot reference is that Lydia’s hotel room in New Hampshire is 2046.

…most embarrassing error.

Despite my best efforts (and those of the amazing folks who edited the series), some mistakes slipped through. The one that kills me that no one to my knowledge has pointed out is in Special Interests when Alyse and Margot are making snarky commentary about television. They are pretty clearly watching The Voice–except the scene occurs in August. And The Voice doesn’t air then. Oops.

…best first kiss.

Millie and Parker win this one.

Millie wanted to go back and see how it had happened. One minute she was yelling at him and the next thing she knew, she was pinned against the wall outside of Big Hunt, kissing Parker Beckett.

His mouth was, predictably, confident. Firm, overpowering, hungry. There hadn’t been a buildup to speak of, but he was certain of his reception. He nipped at her lips, and she opened for him without being conscious of what was happening as his tongue tangled with hers and she sighed. She actually sighed into the kiss.

This was silly. She’d wanted to kiss him last week, but that was before she knew anything about him. Now she wanted…oh, to hell with it.

One of his arms was wrapped around her waist, the other braced against the brick over her head. He’d clearly done this a hundred times before, which meant that he wasn’t for her. She pulled her hands from her sides and placed them on his chest to push him away.

As soon as she got there, however, it was as if her resolve melted.

An honorable mention goes to Liam and Alyse for their first hug.

…favorite paragraph.

This is from the first chapter of Special Interests.

Uninterested in trading more Metro stories, Millie sipped her drink slowly and scanned the room. Crowding the club were your interns, recognizable by their inappropriate interpretations of business casual and their frat party lingo. There were your nonprofit and advocacy types, like herself, though often much crunchier. And there were your escapees from the Hill and the White House. The latter could usually be found clutching smartphones or, in the most obnoxious cases, still wearing their hard passes. Nothing spelled sexy like a guy who wanted you and everyone else to know he had access to the OEOB.

…favorite chapter.

Chapter 17 from Party Lines. Here’s a tiny taste.

They hadn’t left any lights on and the apartment was lit dove gray. Rain sluiced down the windows, drawing curving patterns on the floor. He took the bag from her and put it in the kitchen along with those he’d been carrying. She was still standing on the mat, now with her arms wrapped around her.

“Let’s get those off.” He reached for the hem of her shirt.

You’ll have to get the book for the entire thing. It’s also my favorite love scene.

…favorite email or text message exchange.

This is from Private Politics.

Before walking into a trap, she sent Liam a text. Did you tell Parker?

His reply was almost immediate. No. Did you tell Millie?

No, but she wants me to call her. When he didn’t respond immediately, she added, Do you want me to tell her?

Were they a couple? Had they merely hooked up? Could they really decide while texting? Before she’d figured out which response she was hoping for, her phone buzzed.

That we hooked up? I want to paint it on a billboard. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want to sponsor a bowling team just so I can put it on their shirts.

Her cheeks stung from her efforts not to smile.

…darkest black moment.

Party Lines. Enough said.

Did I miss any you’re curious about? Get any wrong? Let me know in the comments!

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