A lobbyist and consultant juggles her political aspirations with her search for a meaningful relationship in this debut novel.
Clarissa Bateman, a beautiful, savvy woman, enjoys a thriving career and an active social life. Inspired by the social justice movements of the 1960s, she’s a lobbyist in Washington state by the late ’70s, with her own successful political consulting firm. When she’s not advocating for education and women’s issues, she’s spending time with her friends experiencing Seattle and Olympia’s vibrant music and arts scenes. Her intellectual prowess is only matched by her voracious sexual appetite, but short-lived dalliances with a reporter, a senator, and a free-spirited woman left her wanting something more stable. Her first taste of mature romance comes when she meets Karl Springly at a wedding reception. The slightly older, recently divorced news director courts her ardently and quickly becomes a devoted friend; however, his reluctance to make a firm commitment causes Clarissa to doubt the relationship will become permanent. When Clarissa meets Edward Burke, the new commissioner for higher education, the attraction is instant and mutual. Clarissa and Edward seem destined to be together if they can navigate some serious complications, including their political alliance, his pending divorce, and her unresolved relationship with Karl. Chartwell’s brisk and breezy narrative paints a vivid portrait of one woman’s life in the free-wheeling ’70s. The novel’s strongest elements are its settings and dynamic, unflappable heroine. Clarissa’s life is a whirlwind of work and lively parties, and Chartwell expertly re-creates the vibrant music scene of the era and the events where Clarissa mixes and mingles with people who may become political allies. She remains the novel’s most fully realized character, particularly in the sensitive way the tale explores how her party-girl social life often clashes with her serious political ambitions. Although some of the supporting characters are rather thinly developed, particularly Clarissa’s many flings, Karl and Edward are solid romantic interests who enable Clarissa to examine what she really wants out of life.
A racy guilty pleasure replete with politics, romance, and plenty of sex.