REVIEW: Where There’s Smoke by L.A.Witt
Anthony Hunter wonders what the hell he’s gotten himself into when he agrees to manage an unproven candidate’s campaign for governor of California. As soon as he meets the gorgeous, charismatic—and married—politician, attraction gives Anthony’s rock-solid professionalism a run for its money, and Anthony knows he’s in way over his head.
Jesse Cameron doesn’t like the idea of putting himself out there as a happily married, wholesome candidate, but his retired senator uncle insists it’ll give him an edge over a challenging rival. The only problem is that Jesse’s marriage is over, existing only to maintain his heterosexual façade. Oh, and there’s that minor detail about his undeniable attraction to his smoking hot campaign manager. Or the fact that the attraction is very, very mutual.
Before long, temptation explodes into a sizzling, secret relationship, but under the microscope of the media and the relentless scrutiny of the voting public, Anthony and Jesse can only keep their secret for so long. And this is one scandal a campaign won’t survive…
This book was previously published and has been lightly revised from its original version.
Dear LA Witt,
I bought (I guess I should say I downloaded since I got this book when it was free on Amazon) the second edition of this book. I never read the first one, but the note says that the second edition has been only slightly revised, therefore I am assuming that there is not much difference between two editions.
The blurb gives you a nice idea of the setup, but unfortunately, the book put me in a ranting mood pretty fast. I have been reading m/m romance for at least nine years now and am not planning to stop any time soon, however I am still unable to understand the attraction of two grown men forgetting their grown-up responsibilities and acting like a pair of horny teenagers. To be clear, I get the attraction of *love prevails over everything*, when people decide that their career should be abandoned in favor of love, in favor of being together. I get that. What I do not get is when the characters want to have it all: they act like complete idiots and irresponsible fools but still keep their jobs. And this is how these two guys acted as far as I am concerned, for the vast majority of the story. Variations of this trope pop up in m/m a lot and I still do not understand it. Maybe somebody can explain it to me? I just really want to understand!
Anthony Hunter, an experienced campaign manager, agrees to run Jesse Cameron’s election campaign to become a governor of California, and it all goes south from there. Jesse is gay and in the closet. He may have all the best intentions in the world, but he reluctantly agrees to take his uncle’s advice and present himself as a happily married candidate even though for all intents and purposes his marriage to Simone is pretty much over now. Simone agrees to help him .
Anthony is gay as well, and he has been attracted to Jesse almost from the moment they met, but until about thirty percent of the story he has no idea that Jesse is gay. He is able to keep his attraction at bay while he thinks Jesse is straight, but when Jesse finally decides to spill his guts (because Anthony as his campaign manager really needs to know everything that could be used against Jesse by his opponents and the media), what does Anthony do? Oh yes, he kisses Jesse pretty much right away.
And then a heated love affair takes place. Do you know how many times throughout the book I was treated to different variations of the following conversations? Let’s just say it happened way more often than once or twice or three times. This is a close paraphrase, not a quote.
“Oh no, I think this is a bad idea.
We must wait till the campaign is over.
Oh no, but we can’t. We want each other too much.”
This is just this reader’s opinion, but I did not find their behavior romantic. I found it idiotic.
The most disappointing thing for me was that except their inability to control their desire to have sex on the campaign trail no matter how dangerous it was or who could discover them, I really liked both Anthony and Jesse. They may have been flawed people, but they both went into politics because they seemed to care about people around them and care about the issues. Anthony may have helped to elect candidates whose stance on certain issues was lesser of two evils, but he did care about those issues and wanted to help worthy candidates. Jesse decided to run because he truly believed that the other candidate would be an awful choice for California, because he always had the desire to “fix things” and because he was passionately devoted to improving the situation for domestic violence survivors. These two are likeable good guys, I liked them, but I could not like them completely and I was annoyed about that.
The way author dealt with Jesse’s marriage and its dissolution was a pleasant surprise for me. I expected something much more stereotypical and cliché after reading the blurb, but I was surprised and I liked how the author chose a different angle to explore. Jesse’s wife and soon to be ex-wife Simone was a likeable and sympathetic character to me. There were definitely issues between Jesse and Simone (and not just the fact that he was gay – she had been aware of that for a while when the story began) but these issues were not necessarily what one might expect.
I liked the resolution of the story, but it was too little too late for me.