Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, Romance, romantic comedy
Published by Graydon House on May 9, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
“Charming, swoony, and utterly unputdownable. I LOVE this book!”—LYNN PAINTER, New York Times bestselling author of Better Than the Movies
A laugh-out-loud rom-com about learning to embrace living outside your comfort zone.
As a shy school librarian, Alexis Stone is comfortable keeping out of the spotlight. But when she’s dumped for being too meek—in bed!—the humiliation is a wake-up call. She decides she needs to change, and what better way to kick-start her new more adventurous life than with her first one-night stand?
Enter Logan, the gorgeous, foul-mouthed stranger she meets at a hotel bar. Logan is audacious and filterless, making him Alexis’s opposite—and boy, do opposites attract! Just as she’s about to fulfill her hookup wish, the hotel catches fire in a freak lightning storm—and in their rush to escape, Logan is discovered carrying her into the street, where people are waiting with cameras. Cameras Logan promptly—and shockingly—flees.
Alexis is bewildered until breaking news hits: pictures of her and Logan escaping the fire are all over the internet. It turns out Logan is none other than Logan Arthur, the hotshot politician challenging the Texas governor’s seat. The salacious images are poised to sink his career—and jeopardize Alexis’s job—until a solution is proposed: to squash the scandal, he and Alexis could pretend to be in a relationship until election day…in two months. What could possibly go wrong?
We’ve probably all done some really weird, out of our comfort zones things while getting over an ex. Or getting vicarious revenge on said ex. Most of us don’t get struck by lightning while we’re doing those things. Or get caught on camera, whether in deshabille or not, while doing said things. Whether or not we’ve been doing those things we might someday regret with someone currently running for governor – of our state or any other.
Not that both Alexis Stone AND Texas gubernatorial candidate Logan Arthur don’t look fairly ungoverned in the pic that has taken the internet by storm. And thrown Logan’s candidacy in a tempest of its very own – one that the opposition is guaranteed to take advantage of – unless Logan’s people get ahead of it first and very, very fast.
Both Logan and Ashley are single and unattached. This isn’t THAT kind of political scandal. It’s just that in the looks department Logan makes Justin Trudeau look like he isn’t really trying, AND he has a well-deserved reputation as a playboy. His older, settled, highly respected opponent has made a great deal of political hay over Logan’s inability to commit to a relationship with anyone and questioned whether he’s mature enough to commit to a relationship with the entire state. Of Texas.
Logan’s campaign wants Alexis to agree to a fake relationship with the candidate until after the election is over, win or lose. If Logan wins, they can break up quietly and he can go on to become the first Democratic governor of Texas in entirely too damn long. If Logan loses, it won’t matter anyway.
Or so everyone believes. Whether it’s going to matter to either Logan or Alexas after two months of fake dating in front of seemingly all the cameras in Texas is a question that no one seems to have asked.
Whether a shy, downright introverted school librarian is willing or able to put herself in front of those same ever-present cameras and put her entire life on display on the campaign trail is a huge, ginormous ask.
Whether Ashley can keep her heart to herself while she’s doing it is something that she needs to ask herself. Seriously. Before it’s much too late. For her heart. And, much to Ashley’s surprise, for his.
Escape Rating B: The Boyfriend Candidate starts out with one of the most sizzling meet-cutes ever. As Alexis and Logan are seducing each other with words over an increasing number of drinks and over-the-top stories they tell each other, the steam practically rises off the page. To the point where it’s not all that surprising that the sparks they strike from each other result in an actual lightning strike.
And that’s where the story really heats up!
The fun part of this one is the way it tackles the “fake dating” trope and then uses it to say a whole lot of really important things about how important it is to love yourself first and figure out what you really want in life before you inflict yourself on anyone else.
Both Logan and Alexis have dreams to fulfill but both of them have been too caught up in being what other people want to take the necessary hard look at what they themselves really want. They are both, in entirely different ways, people pleasers. For Alexis that means twisting herself into an emotional pretzel out of fear that if she rocks the boat even a little bit people will leave her. As her father left her mother – and then was killed in a car crash. As her sister emotionally abandoned her after those same events. Although their relationship is better now the stress of those dark days still lingers. On Alexis at least.
Logan wants to do good. Really, truly, seriously. He knows that being governor will give him the kind of reach and influence, not to mention the really tall bully pulpit, that he can use to make good things happen. But being a candidate is making him squeeze his outsize, blunt, profane and argumentative personality into a tiny, meek, mild-mannered little box. And it’s not working for either him or the campaign.
But to make his campaign work, Alexis needs to get on board. To make that work for her, she has to find a voice of her own no matter how much it scares her. And Logan needs to own his own truth to have a real chance, both with the voters and with Ashley.
There’s a lot to love in The Boyfriend Candidate. While Ashley’s journey is the toughest, and the one we’re most intimate with as she’s the one telling the story, Logan’s journey is just as important to making the whole thing work, both for them and for the reader.
There’s also a lot that gets said about the state of politics in general and in Texas in particular. Especially about the state of libraries and education and education funding, as those issues become Ashley’s platform in a huge and necessary way. The best and worst thing is that all of the issues that Ashley raises in her platform, from decreasing funding for education, year after year, to increasing book bans everywhere, are all substantially true. For this librarian, the inclusion of those issues was a huge plus. Some readers may not and your reading mileage may vary.
Howsomever, as a reader I did have one issue with this story, and it’s an issue that took me completely out of the story to the point where the grade landed on B. It’s clear throughout the book that whatever Ashley and Logan might be saying out loud, neither of them has managed to keep their hearts to themselves. There’s going to be a crash before the final HEA. The way that crash came about, when Ashley’s sister forced her between a rock and a hard place in a way that was guaranteed to explode all over Ashley, Logan, and his campaign, read like the kind of sabotage that was not part of Ashley’s current relationship with her sister. It came out of left field in a way that didn’t work for me at all.
Which doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book as a whole, because I most definitely did. (It also reminded me quite a bit of Jasmine Guillory’s Party of Two, and I adored that book and the whole Wedding Date series it’s a part of, so I was a bit pre-determined to like The Boyfriend Candidate. And I did. I just wish there’d been a way to stage that inevitable explosion that felt more organic to the story.