Title: Pride and Politics (Men of Holsum College #6)
Author: Daisy Harris
Cover Artist: Jinger Heaston
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M contemporary
Length: Novella (41,742 words)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie S
Review summary: A somewhat patchy story with somewhat uneven characters.
Aloof and arrogant, Holsum College junior Hunter Ford has enjoyed all the perks of being from one of America’s most prominent families. Hunter can have anything he wants—except time away from his family’s political spotlight and the image consultant hired to keep him there.
Steve Camden’s job is simple—make Hunter toe the line for the duration of his uncle’s vice-presidential campaign. This is the break Steve’s been waiting for and a chance to provide a better life for his deaf sister. But he didn’t count on an attraction to the broken scion—one that rearranges everything Steve thought he knew about himself.
As Steve melts Hunter’s icy exterior, the heat between them threatens more than just their hearts. Then a ghost from Hunter’s past shows up on the campaign, challenging Hunter’s stability, and straining Steve’s ability to defend and protect the man he’s growing to love.
Book 6 in the Men of Holsum College series tells the story of Hunter, the spoiled and arrogant senator’s son we last saw in Player and the Prude. Raised to a life of privilege, Hunter is accustomed to being the best at everything he does, from being captain of the lacrosse team to being the boss in bed. But although he’s top dog on campus, Hunter is small fry when it comes to the rest of his family. His uncle is running for Vice President, and he’s paying Hunter half a million dollars to behave himself and tag along looking wholesome for three weeks on the campaign trail.
His uncle has also arranged for Hunter to be accompanied everywhere by an ‘image consultant’, Steve. Although Hunter thinks Steve is hot, he’s resentful at being baby-sat and sees Steve as an obstacle to all the fun he could be having with the twinks he finds on Grindr.
Steve is none too thrilled to be acting as handler to Hunter, but a job is a job and he needs the money to help pay for his younger sister’s education. At first he doesn’t know how to deal with Hunter’s rich-boy arrogance, but after seeing his sad defiance in the face of his uncle’s hostility, and after witnessing Hunter almost fall apart after a run-in with his uncle’s press secretary Jed, Steve finds himself wanting to protect Hunter rather than scold him.
The urge to care for this troubled young man becomes something more as the campaign trail moves from state to state. Hunter starts to unbend and show his true self, but he can never relax, not while his uncle’s disapproval is so obvious and not when Jed is waiting to remind him of an unpleasant past. Steve is ready to do anything to help Hunter—but will Hunter be too proud to accept his help?
I’ve been enjoying this series immensely as something light to read when the mood strikes, and while Pride and Politics is still a fun book, for me it’s perhaps the weakest of the series so far.
That’s not to say there aren’t good points. I was looking forwards to Hunter’s story, and although it’s a cliché to see an arrogant asshole tamed by love and his attitude explained by a troubled past, I really like that kind of thing. So, predictably, I loved Hunter and I really felt for him as he keeps trying to square his lifestyle and sexuality with the duties of the public life his family keep forcing upon him.
I enjoyed the whole aspect of being on campaign trail. Being British, I pay no attention to American presidential campaigns unless it’s on a re-run of The West Wing, so I liked the descriptions of travelling from state to state and all the tedious behind-the-scenes work that goes on during this kind of thing. It’s easy to see how being in such a high pressure environment would affect people, and it gave some realism to the speed with which Hunter and Steve fell for one another.
I also liked the sub-plot with Hunter’s past with Jed, and how fear, anger and betrayal have all made their mark on Hunter and shaped his attitude. I liked that Steve was sweet and kind and had the patience to see past Hunter’s bad-boy attitude to the conflicted and confused guy beneath.
Steve is perhaps too much of a nice guy. I got a better sense of him the second time I read the book, but he’s not someone who sticks in my mind. To a certain extent that’s the whole point, especially when Hunter is such a strong character, but at the same time I want both guys in a romance to be memorable.
What I didn’t like so much was the resolution of the storyline with Jed. Though it was amusing, the pacing seemed off and overall I found it a bit contrived. Perhaps if the book had ended just after that resolution, I’d have liked it better – but the story then continued for a little longer, and the very slight BDSM hint that had surfaced earlier on was expanded in a way that didn’t entirely feel right to me. It just felt like it was overdone and in my opinion it wasn’t necessary, especially as it had me questioning some of the characterisation from earlier in the book.
If you’re enjoying the series like me then Pride and Politics is still a decent read with some good moments, but overall I was a teeny bit disappointed.