Ford Hollingsworth is a newly elected Republican congressman from Missouri. His father is a U.S. senator with presidential aspirations, and his grandfather was a governor who also made a bid for the White House. Ford has been working all his life to follow in the family footsteps, and as one of the new golden boys of the party, he is moving in the right direction. Ford rarely indulges in casual sex. Between his religious beliefs about the sanctity of marriage and the fact that his political career would be destroyed if anyone knew he was gay, Ford only occasionally gives in to the desire for another man. So he is horrified when he finds out that the very sexy man he picked up while in New York might be the worst possible bed partner he could have found: Trevor Moga, billionaire and son of the current Democratic president.
Ford’s initial panic subsides as Trevor assures him that he has no plans to out Ford. Having grown up with two political dynamos for parents, Trevor stays far away from politics himself, having made a fortune investing in tech companies. What started out as a one night stand soon grows to more as the two men begin quietly seeing each other. Of course, they must keep their relationship totally hidden, as no one knows Ford is gay, not even his family. And he is certain that if word got out, that would mean the end of his dreams and those of his family. But the more time the men spend together, the more serious they begin to feel about each other. Ford must decide if he is ready to be honest about who he is and face whatever fallout might occur, and Trevor is determined to be right at his side.
I enjoyed this story of two men who have grown up in politics and find themselves falling for one another despite their outward differences. I think Cardeno C really captures that element of being part of political dynasty that has shaped both these men. Trevor has run from it, staying totally out of politics and avoiding even donating to political causes. He sees how politics ruled every aspect of his parent’s lives and doesn’t want any part of that. Trevor has made billions at business and is totally happy keeping politics at a distance. Ford, on the other hand, has embraced his political legacy. He is a young congressman and seems to have a bright future ahead of him. His life and career goals have been mapped out, and Ford wants that life for himself, but worries that being gay is going to destroy it all.
I found Ford a particular interesting character as he works through his feelings about coming out. I think Ford could have been tough to like — conservative, hiding his sexuality, forcing Trevor to hide their relationship. But Cardeno C makes Ford really understandable, and just an incredibly nice guy. He is totally honest, sincere, and sweet. He needs time to work through how he feels about being gay, how to reconcile that with his political and religious beliefs, but he is always moving forward and is willing to risk his career for his happiness if necessary. So I found him particularly interesting and enjoyed his character development.
The story focuses almost exclusively on the relationship between Trevor and Ford, and given that it is so private, they have little interaction with anyone else. There are some scenes at Trevor’s office or with their families, but the story is pretty tightly centered on these guys falling in love and then figuring out how to make it work. Given the set up, this one is surprisingly low angst and the story is pretty sweet and mushy, rather than intense. There is a nice sexiness to the couple as well, especially as Ford lets go of some of his inhibitions. I liked these guys together and enjoyed seeing them fall for one another.
I did have a few issues however, mostly that things often seemed too simplistic and easy. First off, these guys have a shockingly easy time hiding their affair considering who they are. I mean, Trevor is the BILLIONAIRE SON OF THE CURRENT PRESIDENT. He is basically Bill Gates if Bill’s father was also the president of the country. The idea that he travels with no security at all (no Secret Service, no private security) seems totally unbelievable. The threats to his safety would be enormous given who he is and this issue isn’t even addressed. Not to mention that he can travel to public events and around DC with no press attention at all. So this then makes it no problem for him to sneak around all the time with Ford, with no one apparently noticing a guy who would have to be one of the most famous and easily recognizable people in the country. Along the same lines, while I agree that in NYC, Ford isn’t as likely to be recognized, I found it hard to imagine him going into a gay club and risking being spotted. Not to mention that once in DC, there would be PLENTY of people who would recognize him on the street (or as he visits Trevor in his hotel at night, carrying no luggage). It just felt unrealistically easy to me that these guys sneak around with no trouble, and it made the story feel too simplified.
Along the same lines, I was expecting more about the politics. This is basically the story of two men from opposing political dynasties who are crossing party lines to be together, and yet politics are never an issue. We never get any sense of just what Ford believes, of how he has voted on gay rights or other conservative bills. The men never discuss politics, never are at odds about ideology. It is never even an issue, which again seems totally unrealistic given who these people are. I get that Trevor has stayed out of the political world, but that doesn’t mean he would have no political views. I don’t want to spoil any of the ending, but as the story continues, I found it increasingly implausible that political differences were never an issue with the guys or any other characters involved in their lives or Ford’s political career. Again, it all just seemed too easy, like the sharp edges are filed off the story and it just left the happy middle.
And finally, I found myself frustrated on a few occasions that these people are willing to throw their beliefs aside as soon as it is convenient, yet it is never really addressed head on. Trevor at one point makes a major (and quite unethical) move to help Ford. It is everything he has always hated when his parents do it, yet aside from a comment by his mom to that effect, there is no introspection about what this means. I would have loved some examination of why now he is willing to act contrary to his long-held standards. At the end of the book we get another case of Trevor suddenly willing to play politics to get what he wants again. Clearly it is all due to his feelings about Ford, but I would have liked to see it addressed within the story. Ford’s parents were also frustrating, again willing to put their beliefs aside when it suits them for political gain. Yes, it helps Ford and Trevor in the end, but again it just passes by without real comment. So I guess all of my issues here are along the same lines, in that I feel like things were just very simplified and made unrealistically easy. None of the incidents are necessarily major by themselves, but added together I found myself distracted and, at times, frustrated by the fact that the set up is here for conflicts and issues to play out, but they are mostly left out of the story.
Overall, however, I did enjoy this book, primarily on the strength of Ford and Trevor. I found them a likable couple and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop. I particularly liked the exposure to Trevor’s world of uber-wealth and seeing his fancy hotels and lavish lifestyle, and enjoyed how it contrasted with how down to earth both of these guys are. So despite some issues, I found this an enjoyable story.