The Politics of Love

Jen Jensen. Bold Strokes, $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-63555-693-3
With this underdeveloped lesbian romance, Jensen (Jamis Bachman, Ghost Hunter) attempts to depict love across the progressive-conservative divide. It’s a difficult premise to pull off, and it’s almost immediately gutted by the characterization of the conservative protagonist. Georgia evangelical Shelley Whitmore, the 31-year-old daughter of a hate-filled pastor, is sufficiently notorious for her appearances on TV news shows—yet her first act in the novel is to drop her talking points in a debate and instead cordially agree that the right’s antagonism toward transgender people is “not rational.” Her adversary, 40-year-old activist Rand Thomas, is so impressed that she invites Shelley to get acquainted over dinner. But Rand hasn’t processed her wife’s death and Shelley isn’t out yet, so their small sizzle goes nowhere—until Shelley engineers a move to Rand’s hometown of Phoenix. The romance is slight, with more time devoted to Shelley’s coming out, Rand’s therapy, and shallowly conceived partisan talking points. Neither characters’ politics develop over the course of the novel: Shelley’s socially liberal notions are presented as what she’s always felt but never voiced (the hypocrisy of this goes largely unaddressed), while Rand’s journey begins and ends at the revelation that maybe not all conservatives are as bad as she once thought. Readers will be unconvinced. (July)
Reviewed on : 06/26/2020
Release date: 07/01/2020
Genre: Romance/Erotica
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