Party Lines

Party Lines Cover

It’s not personal—it’s politics.

Michael Picetti: a cynical Democrat who has seen too many failed campaigns. It’s not his first primary, and it’s been a while since he’s truly believed policy and public good trump all.

Lydia Reales: young, hard-working, optimistic…Republican. Getting her candidate in office means everything to her, and leaves zero time for a love life.

Both are determined that opposites don’t attract—at least when it comes to crossing party lines. As aides for opposing presidential candidates, Michael and Lydia are competing in an industry that requires total loyalty to their side. It doesn’t matter that with each teasing encounter they’re more and more attracted to each other. It doesn’t matter that casual flirting escalates to a powerful physical connection. It doesn’t matter that they might not be able to step away from each other without consequences.

As the campaign rages on and a reckless affair becomes a relationship, the inevitable reality sets in. In the end, loyalty to the campaign has to win. It doesn’t matter at what cost.

Goodreads | Pinterest


“Lydia and Michael furtively court each other, argue passionately and make love with just as much enthusiasm. …a terrific conclusion to a unique and wonderful series.” – Book Riot

“Lydia and Michael and the other heroes and heroines have read like me, like my friends, like the people and situations I’ve come to know living in DC for the last almost 20 years. I’m eager to see what Barry comes up with next.” – Cooking Up Romance

“It’s well-written, authentic, and the romance is believable” – Dear Author

“Emma Barry writes a political romance that manages to be romantic, clever, heartwrenching, thoughtful and sigh worthy.” – Fiction Vixen

“…this is not simply at enemies to lovers story with super-hot secret affair but story about bad timing. …I just loved how Michael & Lydia’s relationship develops and deepens over the course of the election cycle[.]…Each of the romances and couples [in the series] have very different trajectories to true love and I believed in all of them.” – Immersed in Books

Party Lines worked for me on so many levels. It was smart, complex, fresh, sexy, and heartfelt, all at the same time. I absolutely loved it!” – Kindles and Wine

“…a gloriously interesting romance…Party Lines is Barry’s most complex, most confident, most engaging work to date.” – Miss Bates Reads Romance

“Party Lines is a charming story about opposing political standpoints, and love, in time of the elections. …Both characters were amazing, three dimensional, and so well written.” – Night Owl Reviews

“Filled with fascinating details about life on the presidential campaign trail, …Party Lines makes for a fittingly feminist conclusion to Barry’s outstanding D.C. insider trilogy” – Romance Novels for Feminists

“My first ‘A’ read of 2015 comes early and strong. …A smart, well done romance with fast-paced campaign action. Highly recommend.” – Smexy Books

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I buy it? It’s now called The One You Hate, and as of 2/21/22, it’s available again at e-book and print retailers.
  • How long is Party Lines? 74,000 words, or on the shorter end of single-title length.
  • What’s the heat level? It’s sensual but not erotic.
  • Are there any content notes? On-page sex and alcohol use; profanity; references to racial discrimination in the workplace; on-page racist microaggressions; extensive political discussion.
  • What inspired you to write the book? In Special Interests, we met Parker and learned that he’d had two college roommates. When Liam became the hero in book 2, Private Politics, I knew that Michael would be the hero of book 3. I also knew from the start that it would be campaign-set and cross-party. The Pinterest page with inspiration images and selections from the playlist is here.
  • What was the writing process like? I have never written a book where the drafting was harder. I have also never worked harder during my edits. But I am crazy happy with the final product. I started writing the book in December 2013 and finished it in June 2014.
  • Can it standalone? Yes. While it’s the third book in the series, there’s no information that you need from books 1 and 2.
  • I don’t like politics. Should I still read the book? I answered this question re: the first book in the series in depth here. Michael’s a Democrat and articulates his position; Lydia’s a Republican and she repeatedly corrects him. To me, politics are a metaphor for differences in the personality and experience of the characters. The books aren’t liberal or conservative; they reflect my own weird mix of cynicism and idealism and are about, at some level, the political development of my fellow Millennials. You could read and enjoy the series thinking of all the political details as fantasy. But I realize that American politics are deeply charged and frequently unpleasant and your mileage may vary.
  • I’d like to review the book. Awesome! I hope you love it, but if you don’t, I 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.


Chapter 1

O’Hare Airport


Michael Picetti dared the universe to pay some of those dividends he’d accumulated. The sapphire-eyed brunette chipping away on her phone would do nicely.

Though, okay, one pretty woman sitting next to him on a flight from Chicago to Des Moines would hardly make up for the more than a decade he’d spent on the campaign trail—for the meals skipped, the relationships stunted and the vacations he’d never taken—but it would be a start. He was pretty cheap these days.

He dropped his gaze back to his tablet and continued typing an answer to a consultant’s question about media buys. Even on a Sunday morning campaign work never ended.

He’d spent the last weekend he’d have off for five weeks, until after the Iowa caucuses, maybe until after there was a nominee, attending the wedding of one of his college roommates. Parker was obnoxiously happy with his labor organizer. His other former roommate, Liam, had nabbed her best friend. They’d probably be engaged before the balloons dropped at the conventions.

And Michael…well, he’d be racking up frequent flyer miles and Marriott reward points, pounding the pavement for Democratic candidates and remembering when he’d once had a social life—which was absolutely not a problem.

The brunette answered a call. “He proposed!”

Okay, maybe not her.

He finished writing an email and opened a report on swing voters in rural counties. The first two sentences were in passive voice and it didn’t improve after that. He fiddled with the brightness on the display and shifted in his seat.

Her. Maybe she’d be next to him on the flight. Curly, red hair looped in an enormous bun. Yoga pants—easily his favorite stylistic innovation of the past decade—showing off first-class curves. Attention riveted to her e-Reader. She was intense and hot.

Just as the fantasy in his head got interesting, the loudspeaker crackled on. “We’re now boarding Group C at Gate G6B for the 12:05 flight to Des Moines.”

Michael shouldered a garment bag and shuffled to the back of the queue. Once on board, he stuffed his bag into the overhead bin and began furiously scrolling through tweets, the fastest updates on the state of the race available.

Randall has earned the nomination. Emery Allen will be the Repub nom, and we need to think about the general. #IowaDems

Jimmy Randall oozes sleaze and I hope he gets creamed.

Met #Randall at a diner in Algona. Straight shooter, good guy.

Anyone but Randall. Anyone. #Caucuses

Michael closed his eyes. He loved elections with their high stakes and fast pace. He loved the work—okay, some of the work. He loved the travel. But he would give anything to bring back Boss Tweed and smoky backroom deals because primaries—all the money and time just for a shot at being on the presidential ticket—were a backbiting waste. Today’s editorial in a certain leading newspaper about how Democrats should slow down and look at all their options before committing to Randall was Exhibit A.

He wasn’t a true believer; he liked to win. But there was too much margin for error in this race. Randall had all the right stuff. After a very successful career as a district attorney, he’d served as state attorney general and governor. He’d balanced the budget, expanded access to health care and proven an admirable ability to work with business leaders and even moderate Republicans. He was popular, had a photogenic family and could raise boatloads of cash. What was holding Democrats back?

The rumors Randall had lifted skirts, maybe. But Michael had done his own research before he’d signed with the campaign and hadn’t found a thing. The only thing that mattered was his electability. That was the only standard—and Randall passed it.

Why couldn’t all the Democratic voters see that?

With his eyes closed, Michael missed his seatmate walking down the aisle. At the sound of shuffling, he opened one eye and watched her drop next to him with a thump.

He went back to pretending to nap. It was a woman, but not the brunette or the redhead. He’d noted a braid, black and shiny, reaching almost down to her waist, and a T-shirt, which advertised her allegiance to one of those big southern schools that were so very good at football. Also horn-rimmed glasses and a focused expression, though the attention was entirely for her phone.

Oh well. Even if the redhead had sat next to him, what was the best-case scenario? They might have flirted, had dinner a few times and perhaps kept each other warm on a cold Iowa night—and nothing more. If not precisely an inducement to celibacy, campaigns did tend to kill relationships.

The woman muttered to herself as she dug through a purse large enough to be luggage, evidently trying to decide what she needed and what she could put in the overhead bin.

“What are the odds the Wi-Fi will work?” she asked.

“One out of two.” He wasn’t sure she was talking to him, but it seemed rude not to answer.

“You seem certain.” Her tone was teasing.

Michael made an affirmative sound. He was.

“Well, I hope you’re wrong.”

You can read the rest of the first chapter here and short teasers herehere, and here.

© Emma Barry, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Emma Barry with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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