Liberal girl meets Republican boy working the hill, sparks fly, and that’s a HEA, right? Well, not when you’ve got the extreme partisanship of today. That’s Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels for you–a cute rom-com about finding love on the hill, but one that was of course attacked by liberals for daring to suggest that Republicans could be loveable. I’m not going to recap those reviews for you–just trust me they’re ridiculous–but what I am hear to tell you is that as a politically-adjacent person living in Washington, D.C., I found this book adorable and a perfect little rom-com read. I laughed, I swooned, I craved Union Pub. It did exactly what it set out to do.
Kate Adams is a legislative assistant for a Democratic congresswoman and loves what she does. She’s been working on a childcare bill for her boss for months, and schedules a meeting with the legislative director of a powerful Republican congressman in an attempt to get him on board. Well that meeting quickly goes off the rails, because in walks Ben McKenzie–late no less–and they immediately spar over the inevitable death of this bill, their assumptions about each other, and politics in general. Kate goes back to her office to vent to a coworker, Ben overhears her calling him an inbred hick, and a nice little office war is launched. There’s inter-office prank mail, jokes made to one another, but somewhere along the way, a little bit of a tense friendship forms, and suddenly, Kate realizes that maybe she likes Ben more than she’s letting on…but could it ever work? Dating a coworker–no less, a coworker on the other side of the aisle? She’s skeptical, but Ben is persistent…
First off, this book felt VERY DC to me–from mentions of specific locations to a get together at Union Pub to all the political talk, plus a key part of the book is the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Who wouldn’t love that? Even if you’ve never worked on the hill, if you’ve been around politics at all you’ll appreciate the humor in this book and it’s attention to detail in key moments.
And then, there’s the romance! This book is not an HEA from day 1–you have to work from it. It’s more like enemies to friends to enemies to lovers to friends who love each other, and it’s a really enjoyable ride. Kate is pretty likeable, but she’s also stubborn and a little biased, and though we only get Ben’s perspective in the epilogue, he is almost too good to be true. But that’s the fun in this–it’s just a book! But it’s a fun, fun read and maybe can give a lot of us hope for cross-aisle romances, because they are SUPER prevelant in DC, whether the rest of the world realizes it or not.
I couldn’t imagine marrying someone who agreed with me on every single thing. How boring! I also have dated across the aisle and never had serious issues. People who let politics dominate their whole lives–including their dating lives–are really missing out on the world around them. You can disagree about healthcare reform and tax cuts and abortion and Supreme Court nominations, but as this book shows, if you get to know someone for who they truly are, you may just find out that the respect you have for them can overcome any differences in opinion.