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Party of Two


Party of Two

Those who have read Jasmine Guillory’s previous novels have enjoyed getting to know a diverse group of funny, high-achieving individuals, along with their friends and family --- all of whom are in search of their own happy ending. In PARTY OF TWO, it’s Olivia Monroe’s turn. Readers first met Olivia in Guillory’s debut, THE WEDDING DATE, which focused on Olivia’s sister, Alexa.

In that novel, Olivia was a lawyer based in New York City; now, in PARTY OF TWO, some time has passed, and Olivia has grown disillusioned with her high-powered law firm. Instead, she’s taking the leap, moving to Los Angeles and opening her own boutique firm with her best friend. It’s terrifying and exciting at the same time, but Olivia knows that if she’s going to make this new venture succeed, she needs to put her professional goals first. Her personal life, especially her romantic life, can be put on hold for a while.

"Olivia has been in the background of a couple of Guillory’s prior books, so readers will be pleased to see her get her moment in the spotlight at last."

But life throws a wrench in those plans almost as soon as Olivia arrives in L.A. As she enjoys a drink at the hotel bar, she strikes up a conversation with a handsome, down-to-earth guy who seems to share her disdain for artificial pretensions and L.A.’s image-driven culture. Olivia and Max bond over their shared love for homey desserts --- both cake and pie. She intentionally misrepresents herself, trying to make herself seem less interesting to a guy whom she suspects is a C-list actor (he looks vaguely familiar). But the attraction between them is undeniable, and she does enjoy the rush of flirting with a handsome stranger.

When she gets back to her room and turns on the news, Olivia realizes why he looked so familiar --- he’s Max Powell, the freshman U.S. senator from California, a leader in the criminal justice reform movement. Despite her best intentions, she can’t resist his romantic overtures, and the two start to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of a very public romance, especially after a story from her past comes to light.

Olivia has been in the background of a couple of Guillory’s prior books, so readers will be pleased to see her get her moment in the spotlight at last. Guillory also includes a relevant callback to Olivia’s appearance in THE WEDDING DATE, which takes on added relevance in this new novel. Olivia and Max’s respective careers mean that their conversations often turn to pretty heavy topics, such as race and criminal justice. But those discussions, for the most part, arise organically out of the characters’ interactions and feel genuine. And make no mistake: Guillory still includes plenty of moments of humor as well as mouthwatering descriptions of food.

If at times the stakes of Olivia and Max’s relationship --- and the barriers to it --- feel less urgent than in Guillory’s previous titles, most readers likely won’t mind. They will enjoy this glimpse behind the curtain of what it takes to become a political power couple.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 2, 2020

Party of Two
by Jasmine Guillory