The second book in the Easy Part series by Emma Barry, Private Politics is the story of Washington fundraiser Alyse Phillips and political blogger Liam Nussbaum. Alyse didn’t always know what she wanted out-of life, only what she didn’t want. She knew she didn’t want to have a just-good-enough-marriage in the upper East Side just like her parents and sister. Alyse essentially stumbled into a career she loves. She is passionate about her work raising funds for an international girl’s literacy non-profit, even if most people see her as a glorified party-planner. Often dismissed by others because of her good looks and sparkling persona, Alyse is distraught to discover irregularities in donation paperwork as she gathered materials for their auditor. Alyse turns to her roommate Millie for help, who calls her fiance’s good friend Liam to help Alyse investigate and figure out what her options are.
Liam Nussbaum has been infatuated with Alyse for months, a crush Alyse does little to encourage. When Alyse turns to Liam for help, he is wary and guarded. Exposing the bad-actors in at YWR could catapult his political blog to the big-leagues but working with Alyse could either be his best shot at getting closer to her or put his heart through the wringer. Liam with his round soft face, less than chiseled body is acutely aware of how out of his league Alyse is.
Private Politics is well rooted in Washington DC, the city’s pulse and local color a vivid part of the book and Alyse and Liam are distinctive and original main characters. Alyse is beautiful and knows just how to use her beauty as distraction and manipulation. She is not mean-spirited just calculating and skilled at managing people. She knows the value of appearances, of head tilts, timely words, and has the right touch to make her a very successful fundraiser. She is a serious person who excels at appearing un-serious. Liam is affected by her, infatuated even, but all the same deeply aware of the artificiality of the composed persona Alyse presents to the world and treasures any genuine interaction he has with her.
While Alyse is careful and calculated, Liam is a not. He open,genuine,earnest, brilliant and principled. He has built up his college blogging hobby into a thriving small business. The transition isn’t without growing pains, as Liam is learning to trust his staff with editorial decisions and to take the necessary journalistic risks order to make waves. He is the perfect anti-dote to the alpha-hole hero. He is a responsible, thoughtful adult who cares how the decisions he makes affects the people around him.
When a threatening note pushes Alyse out of her apartment, Liam invites her to stay at his place, much to the amusement of their mutual friends who have been waiting for Liam to make a move for months. Liam’s struggles with the appropriateness of expressing and acting on his desires and complicating both their lives. I just loved them together, how they surprise each other, and how hard it is for them to negotiate their relationship. I loved the romance, how Liam’s honesty about his feelings and wants both spook and fascinate Alyse. I loved how Alyse slowly comes to see Liam as increasingly attractive the more she gets to know him. I loved their self-deprecating inner voices, their banter and the perfect dose of investigative hijinks. As soon as I finished Private Politics I jumped online and bought Special Interests.
Come to Washington for the political intrigue and fall in love with Alyse and Liam, who are almost too smart for their own good.
I am grateful for the review copy of Private Politics provided by Carina Press.