Monday, June 22, 2020

Review: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Series: The Wedding Date, Book 5
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780593100820
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist—it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble—not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?

Jasmine Guillory delivers some of the best meet-cutes and Olivia and Max’s in Party of Two is no exception. Olivia has just moved from New York to L.A. to start her own law firm when she meets a handsome stranger in a hotel bar. After a night of cocktails, cookies, and flirting/dessert debates, she’s surprised to discover that the vaguely familiar-looking hottie is none other than Senator Max Powell. And when they run into each other again a few weeks later and he sends her a cake… Well, despite not wanting to get involved with a politician, how can she resist?

Olivia is an intelligent, hardworking, and driven heroine who is easy to like. She doesn’t like to jump into things, which makes her the polar opposite of the impetuous Max. Max is a sweetheart who is thoughtful and kind, and is also mostly aware of his privileged status as a wealthy, white, male senator. Max’s heart is always in the right place, but he does screw up. He can sometimes be selfish without realizing it and he jumps headfirst into things over and over. For that reason alone, he and Olivia shouldn’t work. And yet they balance one another and they’re not complete opposites. Both want to make the world a better place in their own way and they’re willing to fight for it.

The question of whether or not love is enough when you’re involved with someone in the public eye in the current political climate is a logical one. I loved watching Olivia and Max work through things in between numerous scenes featuring cakes and pies. Sometimes it’s a rocky road for them, especially once their relationship goes public and the press gets involved. As a Black woman, Olivia deals with enough racism and sexism in her normal field of work without adding on the media violating her privacy and digging into her past, shading what they find with more racism and blasting it out to the world. My heart broke for her, and as much as I wanted to see her and Max together I liked that the internal and external problems they faced as a couple weren’t easily brushed aside.

Party of Two is the fifth book in the Wedding Date series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Fans of the first book in the series will be happy they get to visit Olivia’s sister, Alexa. And if you’re familiar with Ms. Guillory’s work then you know to expect copious amounts of food. It’s a bit over the top and can get repetitive, but after five books I’ve grown used to it so whether this will be a positive or a negative is really up to personal preference. And it would be remiss of me to talk about Party of Two and not mention some of my favorite things about the book: that both Olivia and Max are in their later thirties, are in high-pressure careers that demand long hours, and both unequivocally support one another. Neither even thinks of asking the other to slow down or cut back, which I really appreciated. This is just as much a signature of Ms. Guillory’s work as the enormous amounts of food and I absolutely love it. I finished Party of Two a happily satisfied reader and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ms. Guillory comes up with next.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.