Monday, July 11, 2011

Parties in Congress by Colette Moody

Book:  Parties in Congress
Author:  Colette Moody
Publisher:  Bold Strokes Books

I moved to Washington, D.C. back in the early summer of 1989.  Fresh from graduate school, I was young and invincible, full of hope, brimming with ideals, and clutching a plan that was going to make the world a better place. 

[Insert record scratch]

I was also fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and gay as a border of pansies in a late October garden.  So much has happened in twenty years, and while Washington is no longer the buttoned-up schoolmarm she once was, some things never change. One of those is the steadfast rule that you always have to choose a side, because if you’re not with us, you’re against us.  And, if you’re against us, you can’t play in our sandbox.

For the record, Entropy is another one of those rules - for instance, no matter where you buy a house or rent an apartment, your job will always be relocated to the other side of the Beltway within six months.

Colette Moody pokes, tweaks, and resoundingly rewrites the stodgy Washington playbook in her latest offering, Parties in Congress.  Here we’re introduced to Bijal Rao as she prepares to take her first paid position as a political researcher. Rao, the fiscally conservative progeny of hippie parents, begins working for the little known, small town Republican mayor, Janet Denton, who is running against the incumbent lesbian Congresswoman, Colleen O’Bannon, for the House of Representatives seat in Virginia.  From Day One, Bijal is conflicted in her new job.  While she supports many of her candidate’s positions, she also has grave concerns about the campaign players and many of their decisions.  Being the new kid on the block, Bijal is sent to videotape a speech being made by Representative O’Bannon.  But things quickly go haywire when she finds out that the sexy suit in the elevator she’s openly cruising is none other than the Congresswoman.

Of course, time and again, the fates conspire to draw Bijal and Colleen together on and off the campaign trail.  The attraction is immediate and runs white hot, but both women know that anything more between them is taboo, at least until the election is over.  Colleen’s campaign, empowered by her convictions and refusal to play the worn-out game of partisan politics, grows stronger and stronger.  Meanwhile, Janet Denton’s campaign begins to crumble at a staggering pace due to ill-timing, flip flops, poor ethical choices and a memorable trip to The Justice League.  As with any good love story, no matter what they try, Bijal and Colleen can’t keep the attraction from deepening.  Then, as the campaign hits it’s final fevered days, Rao’s candidate pulls out the low punches, and the girls may be torn apart before they ever get together. 

But, it’s a love story, so Bijal and Colleen throw propriety to the wind, give in to their throbbing libidos, and spend a sweaty weekend that leaves each and every one their moist, happy places sore from overuse.

The sole reason I chose Colette Moody’s Parties in Congress is because I needed to freakin’ lighten up a little.  Well, apparently I picked up the right book because right now I’m nursing a serious book crush.  

Hmm, I wonder what Parties in Congress would do if I sent it a note asking if it would go steady with me? 

I digress.  While the storyline seems a bit too convenient at times, the characters are fresh and fun, the dialogue is fast-paced and playful, and the bad guys are more annoying dumb shit than evil genius.

One of the things I love is when an author steps outside her wheelhouse. In this case, I’m thrilled to see Ms. Moody writing characters that are women of color.  Bijal and her roommate, Fran, are delightful examples.  Their relationship is one of the tastiest bits of the book – it is part sisterly love, part ‘she poked me’, and part Lucy and Ethel.

Of course, I’m pretty sure Ethel never grumpily opined that the picture of the bikini model in her magazine wasn’t scratch and sniff.

The banter between these two characters really set the mood for the story, and it was a gift that just kept on giving.  Of course, Fran, in all her promiscuous glory, tended to get a little pejorative with Bijal.  The reader could look at this attitude as either preachy or concerned.  I took the boat to Concernville.  Fran didn’t otherwise come off as having a preachy bone in her body, and since we weren’t made privy to Bijal’s romantic history, I can only surmise that Fran really didn’t want to see her best friend’s heart torn apart by the big, bad lesbian politician.  Or, maybe it was her own heart she didn’t want to see torn apart, and she was just projecting.

Ah, heck, where’s Dr. Phil when you need him?

Bijal’s relationship with Colleen hit the interstate at full speed, careened around a few corners, and then tore down the backstretch with everything it had.  There is lust, complex carbohydrates, thrumming motorcycles on overheated flesh, and a treasure trove full of snappy repartee.  However, I sort of feel that the conflict over the ‘you allowed your candidate to say some really unfair stuff about me’ was never addressed.  I know, I know, the whole bomb-exploding thing was a game changer for both women, but still, hurt feelings really tend to linger.  And then, there had to be some sort of emotional repercussion for Colleen after the bombing, especially since she lost her long-time partner to a bomb.

Still, once all is said and done, Parties in Congress was the magic elixir that my soul needed over the weekend.  I’m a forgiving reader, so the handful of soft spots in the story gets a pass from me.  I giggled.  I laughed.  I snorted wine through my nose. 

I’ve read three of them now, so it’s confirmed that Colette Moody’s books are a balm for the soul.  They’re smart, playful, funny, and capable of making a reader feel warm and happy inside.  She writes some memorable characters, and I always do a fist pump when I know I get to read one of them.

Parties in Congress is a hands-down fun read, and it gets a big, fat 4.9 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.  A little more meat on the bones and Colette Moody could find herself in a throw down with the honored members of the Lesfic Romance High Council.

2 comments:

  1. Great review! Nearly as fun to read as the book.

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  2. Thanks, Rev! It was nearly as much fun to write as it was to read the book.

    ReplyDelete