Public Affair by Margie Walker
(Arabesque, $4.99, PG) ISBN: 0-7860-0501-7
****
Margie Walker returns to Dalston, Texas, the setting of her book, Indiscretions. Gallery owner Marlena Lord is thrust into the political arena when her father, a Texas congressman, is suddenly killed in a plane crash. There is almost no time to mourn as the political wheeler dealers try to convince her to run for her father's vacated seat.

Some believe she can be an effective voice in Congress. Others want her to serve as a caretaker until a more formidable candidate emerges. Still others cryptically remind Marlena that her revered father was "just a man."

Marlena learned a lot about politics from her late father and is taking time to weigh all the options and consequences. Real estate developer Miles Chase is among those dispatched by the power brokers to convince her to run. If Miles can convince her to run, financing for an important development project he is working on will be released.

Miles does not tell Marlena the real reason for his interest in her campaign, but she is politically savvy and remains skeptical about his motives. The two are immediately attracted to one another. Miles discovers he cares for her and has an attack of conscience. He tries to warn her that she is being set up to run, but not before they are photographed in a compromising position and the picture is splashed on the front page of the local newspaper.

Marlena is besieged by questions about the photograph. Miles tries to salvage her personal and political reputation by agreeing to a relationship of convenience with Marlena. It appears that the voters would prefer their politicians get caught with a lover than with their hands in the public till or peddling influence.

Marlena and Miles embark on a very public affair. For Miles and Marlena, the lines between their political pretense and personal relationship soon blur. But can they trust each other? Can they reveal their true feelings?

A disturbing plot twist suggests that the fictional Congressman Lord's plane may have been sabotaged and mentions real-life conspiracy theories that evoke the names of the late Texas congressman Mickey Leland and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown both of whom died in plane crashes.

Public Affair is a well-crafted story of smoke-filled rooms and political intrigue, of personal and family secrets and of loyalty. It is also a tale of sex, lies and still photographs. And, despite a few loose ends like the election results Public Affair is a recommended read.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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