This was a perfectly fine romance. Certainly it was leaps and bounds better than her last book, which felt rushed and forced. But Party of Two was missing the spark for me that her earlier stuff had, particularly the second book in this series, The Proposal, which is my favorite of hers.
Our two main characters, Olivia and Max, are very cute together. They meet at a bar one night when Olivia is slightly tipsy, and charm each other while arguing about dessert. (This part had me loving the book.) Olivia leaves without getting his name, but when she turns on the TV she realizes he’s famous, a senator (I was a little unclear about if he was a state senator or not, that could use some clarification. I believe the text said he was, but everything after that made it seem like he was in the actual Senate?) Olivia has just moved to LA to start her own law firm with her friend Ellie, and is consumed by getting her business off the ground. She doesn’t have time to date seriously, let alone date someone with the fame and responsibility baggage Max has. But then, it was just more of them being cute and seeing in flashes as they get to know each other and fall in love.
My problem is that aside from moments of them being cute together (the scene where he tells her he loves her for the first time made me feel gooey inside), this book didn’t really draw me in emotionally. There just really wasn’t much emotional conflict! Olivia is bothered slightly by Max’s impulsivity, and made uncomfortable by the level of public scrutiny she comes under by dating him, but they seem to move past all of their speed bumps relatively quickly, so you as the reader do, too. Even the calls from the press, her race, and the issue of her being arrested in high school are moved through rather quickly. It felt like an easy ride to their HEA.
Which is a problem, because as we learn in the last 20% of the book, it didn’t feel like an easy ride to Olivia, and we should have been let in on that much earlier. Where the first 80% of the book felt like an easy ride that I never really felt an urgency to finish, the last 20% is full of angst and pain and conflict and I needed to know how it would resolve. All of a sudden, all those little things add up for Olivia SPOILERS and after an incident where Max is once again impulsive and self-centered, she breaks up with him, saying she loves him, but they want different things, and it’s never going to work. They are then both miserable until they pull their heads out of their butts (it’s mostly Max that has to do this) END SPOILERS. It was just bad pacing, in my opinion. That conflict should have been there from the beginning, and should have been building up the whole time, not just exploding all at once at the end.
On a personal preference note, she’s at it again with the rhetorical questions as a narrative device, and there were a ton of them, which was irritating. They weren’t as bad as they were in Royal Holiday, though, so there’s that. I will read her next book, but if the books continue to feel as, I don’t know, *uninspired* as these last two have felt, I may be done reading Guillory’s books. There are just too many other books out there.