Newly elected freshmen representatives Michael Grath (R) and Jessica Clark (D) meet in an awkward encounter at mixer on Capitol Hill. Michael is the heir apparent and rising star in his party. Raised in a conservative, staunchly Roman Catholic, well-connected and powerful political family, he is attempting to put his forced-and-failed marriage behind him and quietly tow the party line all the way to the top. Jessica is a passionate politician from Arizona: quick, clever, practically fearless in her determination to represent her district and protect the most vulnerable of her constituents from the ravages of the congressional budgeting process.
Inevitably, and under incredibly awkward circumstances, these opposites attract, and the fun begins. Set against a backdrop of the inner workings of the political process, their chemistry is undeniable – and its risks are unmistakable. This is what makes their story charming and engaging for the reader. Michael and Jessica are strong characters who know (or think they know) who they are and what they want. When they finally give in to the force that drives them together, they become endearing in their determination to make their relationship work.
Along the way, enemies become allies, but the threat of exposure and its consequences hangs over them until “the moment of truth” arrives: the debate that pits Jessica’s deeply personal, passionate political battle against Michael’s “obligations” as a Republican and a Catholic. The struggle they face reveals how deeply divided they are, personally and professionally; and their commitment to each other is put to the test. This is the focal point of Compromising Positions: Can they – will they – compromise their deeply held convictions about what is best for the country to save the relationship that has come to mean everything to them? Or is the price too high to pay, personally and politically? By the time they figure that out, will it be too late? You’ll have to read it to find out.
If you’re looking for a straightforward love story with delightful characters, a taste of what goes on behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., a bit of intrigue, light-hearted fun, and a strong dose of heavy sexual tension, passion, and compassion – by all means, read Compromising Positions. It is intelligent and compelling in its simplicity, with a cast of characters that are both charming and endearing. The alternating POV truly adds to the story, helping the reader better understand the depth of the passion and conflict that drives Michael and Jessie to make the choices facing them.
Is it predictable? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need when we pick up a story to read for pure pleasure. My only criticism is that in its simplicity and directness, there were times when I wanted less dialogue and more descriptive depth. The very real personal and political threats to their relationship would have felt more powerful had the conflict been played out in more detail, not only between the main characters, but in their scenes with party leadership, family, congressional colleagues, staffers and friends. Maybe because I’m addicted to plot twists and turns – and a bit of an adrenaline junkie – the conflict resolution in Compromising Positions seemed almost too easy, and too predictable.
Nevertheless, I sincerely recommend it as an easy, light-hearted read for a rainy day. It’s literary comfort food, and that is always welcome. I will read more of Mary Whitney now that I’ve had a taste of her writing, because I know I will relax and enjoy the ride.