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The Boyfriend Candidate


The Boyfriend Candidate

Readers who loved Ashley Winstead’s last rom-com, FOOL ME ONCE, will remember Alexis Stone, the heartbroken younger sister of Lee “Stoner” Stone. Alexis couldn’t be less like her brash, outrageous older sister, who’s now a progressive Texas state legislator after once being a lobbyist for green tech. Alexis, by contrast, is a quiet, thoughtful school librarian who shuns the spotlight. But as the anniversary of getting dumped by her former fiancé approaches, Alexis can’t stop thinking about Chris’ complaints that she was boring in bed.

"Alexis is a winningly flawed and vulnerable heroine, and her attraction to Logan rings true.... [R]eaders will vote for Alexis and Logan to succeed."

Determined to turn over a new leaf, Alexis decides to go way outside her comfort zone. She shows up at a swanky hotel bar, which is known for being one of Austin’s top hookup spots, looking for a one-night stand. And she seems on track to find one, too, after making a sexy new identity and flirting shamelessly with a handsome man who defends her honor from a creepy stranger. But just as they make their way to a hotel room --- the Governor’s Suite, no less --- a freak lightning strike starts a fire. When they leave the hotel, clothing in disarray, Alexis’ mystery man bolts as soon as they get outside.

Alexis is perplexed and dismayed, especially since she really thought she had a connection with her mysterious suitor. But she quickly discovers the reasons for his hasty exit the following Monday, when photos of the two of them surface in the local news. It turns out that her one-night-stand-who-got-away is none other than Logan Arthur, the brash, hot-headed progressive candidate challenging the Republican incumbent governor. Logan’s crisis team soon finds Alexis’ real identity and calls her into his campaign headquarters, where they beg her for a favor. Logan has been called a playboy in the past, and getting photographed with a sexy stranger (i.e., Alexis) outside a hotel is not the best thing for his image. Their solution? Alexis and Logan should pretend to have been secretly dating for six months, and to keep up the charade through the election, which is only two months away.

Alexis reluctantly agrees and even starts to enjoy her new role, especially when she establishes her own platform centered on funding for public schools and libraries. Logan’s polling numbers are doing better than ever. But Alexis is still a little rough around the edges, hardly the politically savvy candidate’s girlfriend, and she makes more than a few errors. Fortunately, Logan seems endlessly forgiving; Alexis could find herself falling for him for real if it weren’t for his repeated insistence that he’s not looking for anything approaching a real relationship.

Readers who enjoyed FOOL ME ONCE will be happy to see another politically focused romance from Winstead, though Alexis’ story also stands on its own just fine. Alexis is a winningly flawed and vulnerable heroine, and her attraction to Logan rings true. At times, the obstacles to their relationship seem a bit unrealistic (particularly the introduction of a rival), but regardless, readers will vote for Alexis and Logan to succeed.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 12, 2023

The Boyfriend Candidate
by Ashley Winstead