(Image from Barnes & Noble)
As the daughter of a well-known senator infamous for being both a Mormon and a Democrat, Summer Knight has developed a thick skin. The 24-year-old couldn't survive life in the spotlight without it. She knows the world of politics is cutthroat, but what she hasn't quite developed is the capacity to forgive those who've sought to ruin her father's career. Especially when they're church members who profess to be kind and loving, only to turn on one of their own when he dares to express unpopular opinions. After an especially humiliating event, Summer decides she's done with the small-mindedness, done with the judgment, done with the LDS church altogether.
Living in Newport Beach, California, Summer spends her Sundays on the water, logging perfect attendance at the Paddleboarding Ward. Although her conscience (and a tenacious visiting teacher) tells her she should be spending Sunday in church, she just can't make herself take that step. Then, a tantalizing stranger enters her life. Tall, dark, and handsome, 28-year-old Benson Hardy is the nephew of Clint Knight's rival, an LDS politician campaigning to be President of The United States. Benson is also a devout Mormon. Clearly, this is a man with whom Summer should not be fraternizing. Ever. Yet, there's something about the enigmatic political strategist. Sure, he's stiff, unsmiling, and a master at calling her bluff. He's also patient, forgiving, and loyal. Or is he? When an old friend of Benson's—one much more affable than gruff Mr. Hardy—arrives in town, he's got a whole different story to tell about his childhood pal ...
Not sure what to believe about the enigmatic Benson, Summer tries to keep him at arm's length. A difficult prospect. At every turn, he angers her, frustrates her, and provokes her. So why can't she get him off her mind?
With tension building to a crescendo around her, Summer must decide who she really is, what she truly believes, and how much she's willing to risk in order to create the future she never knew she wanted.
As you can tell, Pride & Politics—a debut novel by Brittany Larsen—takes Jane Austen's beloved classic and gives it a modern, LDS spin. While no contemporary version can equal the original in pure charm, Larsen gives it an admirable go. Like Austen, the author examines her own people with a sharp eye, offering up some bold and surprising observations. In fact, that's what I like most about Pride & Politics—it doesn't shy away from addressing some of Mormonism's toughest, most divisive issues. Without being hypercritical, it teaches a truth people have a hard time believing: Latter-Day Saints aren't always, well, saints. Although the story gets heavy at times, mostly it's not. Summer's voice is bright, funny, and real, keeping the tone of the novel light. Like Pride & Prejudice, plot is not this book's strong point. Still, it's entertaining. While Benson is no Mr. Darcy (too nice, maybe?) and Summer is no Lizzy Bennet (too self-centered?), Pride & Politics is still swoony enough to elicit romantic sighs. All in all, I enjoyed it. Quite thoroughly, as a matter of fact.
(Readalikes: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for sexual innuendo and (non-graphic) references to mature subject matter
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Pride & Politics from the generous folks at Covenant Communications. Thank you!
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