46 by Lynn Ames is a romance full of political intrigue that highlights love’s ability to bring out the best in two people.
It’s November of 2020 and Emma McMasters has just been elected the 46th president of the United State. It’s a monumental moment in history. Emma is facing a daunting task. The country has never been more divided. Congress is paralyzed by partisanship, America has lost many of its allies, and hatred towards immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community is at an all-time high. Emma has to restore the people’s faith in government and the media post haste while under the scrutiny of being the first female president. She’s got to prove that a woman can get the job done and silence her detractors.
Palmer Estes is the only female four-star general in the United States Army. She’s served her country well. As the top advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff she’s tasked with briefing the incoming president on one last sensitive mission before she retires.
During tense moments in the Situation Room, Emma and Palmer work in perfect sync. They’re very attracted to each other, but that poses a multitude of complications. As Commander in Chief, Emma can’t pursue a relationship with one of her subordinates. Palmer has spent her military career in the closet and doesn’t want coming out to overshadow her life’s work. Scandal is something both women must avoid at all costs. Even after Palmer retires, both women know the press would have a field day covering their courtship and that would be powerful fodder for Emma’s right-wing critics. On top of all that, Emma is still healing from the tragic death of her wife just three years ago.
Can two strong women find a way to follow their hearts while serving the country they love?
Emma and Palmer have everything going for them. They complement each other perfectly. They are noble and strong, beautiful and smart, and drumroll please – over 50. They are the type of characters that are universally appealing, yet they have their own insecurities which make them feel attainable. Did I mention they are over 50? I’m always happy to read a book featuring “mature” leading ladies because it makes me feel seen.
Emma McMasters sets the standard for all future main characters for me. She is commanding in every way which makes sense – she’s successfully become the first female president, and she’s done it while being a lesbian. Everything about her is extraordinary yet she’s down to earth and approachable. She’s a cross between Wonder Woman and your college roommate who always needs a sympathetic ear. I know, she sounds too perfect. There’s a side to Emma who many people don’t get to see. There’s a part of her who desperately misses her wife and carries with her the guilt over Heather’s death. Palmer helps her move past that. Palmer is the rock Emma didn’t know she needed. As the story plays out, the reader gets to see the woman behind the presidency. She’s self-deprecating and sometime unsure. She’s vehemently protective of Palmer while being completely smitten. I love things like that about Emma, and I think I’m a bit smitten with her myself.
Palmer Estes is equally intriguing. She has a quiet, resolute strength about her. She’s proven herself a hero on the field of battle, a brilliant tactician, and an inspiring mentor. It’s lovely to see such an accomplished woman get tongue tied each time she’s with Emma. At 56, she’s spent the majority of her military career under the egis of, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Because of this, she has next to no experience with women. There’s a vulnerability to Palmer that makes for an interesting character arc. She’s extremely protective of Emma and it’s more than just serving her Commander in Chief. A part of her she didn’t know existed comes to life when she first locks eyes with Emma. Intimacy isn’t something the military drills into its soldiers so watching Palmer navigate a romantic relationship for the first time is heartwarming.
The Writing Style
The plot grabs the reader’s attention from the beginning, and the story only gets more captivating as the pages turn. There is so much political intrigue interwoven with the romance it was almost impossible to put the book down. Ames serves up a full-on nail-biter of a situation right off the bat. I was hooked! This device was a perfect way for Emma and Palmer to observe each other under pressure. It allowed them to see beneath the facades they may have presented if they had started dating under more natural circumstances. The pacing never lets up. There’s no lull in the narrative for a convenient bathroom break because when your main character is the president of the United States every minute counts.
The attention to detail in 46 is mindboggling. It’s clear that Ames did her homework when writing this book. She doesn’t just present a full cast of generals and cabinet members with complex situations to solve and dynamic legislation to carry out. Every aspect down to the china used at a meal or the books in a character’s bookcase is precise and authentic. To say the world created in 46 is realistic would be a huge understatement. For me, every scene was larger than life and the story’s still playing through my mind like a favorite movie. I’m a political junkie so 46 was right up my alley.
Ames approached 46 with class. She has a very liberal stance on politics which is in line with my own. It would have been very easy to take pot shots at the 45th president of the United States. This book could’ve been filled with a laundry list of shortcomings and injustices, but Ames focuses on the changes that President McMasters is going to make. Ames concentrates on the policies Emma wants to enact and her honorable character and never once mentions Emma’s predecessor by name.
I’ve never been one for “insta-love”. Due to circumstances beyond their control, Emma and Palmer don’t get to have a traditional dating/courtship phase. I missed that. It’s justified because, you know, Emma is the president of the United States of America. It’s not like she and Palmer can go out for dinner and a movie without mobilizing the Secret Service and alerting the press. Once I was willing to acknowledge this, I moved past missing the drawn out falling in love part and enjoyed this romance in its unusual context.
Goodness, I only got about five pages into 46 before I started crying. They were the best kind of tears. I was so moved to read about a woman addressing the country on the night she’s been elected as the first female President of United States. I’ve been waiting for that reality my entire life so to see it captured so perfectly reduced me to a puddle of tears. This happened throughout the book. The story is filled with all the typical acts the POTUS takes part in, and Emma McMasters carries out every task with the grace and dignity I long for. Ames writes this tale with such authenticity I felt like I was reading non-fiction. The fact the book is also an endearing romance is an added bonus. This story made me feel good. It’s the exact book I needed for this moment in time. If you’re looking for a world where a decent and honorable person is living in the White House, 46 is a good place to start.
Excerpt from 46 by Lynn Ames
“I hate that it’s tricky business, and I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room up front. I’m your commander in chief. I can’t change that. But in you I sense a kindred spirit and someone I think would make an excellent friend. I sure could use one of those.”
Warmth suffused Palmer’s insides. “I’d like that.” I’d like that very much, in fact.
“If you feel the least bit uncomfortable or if you feel it’s inappropriate, I understand perfectly. If you’d prefer if others were present, I’ll make that happen.”
“That’s completely unnecessary, Emma. I trust you with my life, and I know you to be a person of great integrity. I’m a lot like you—a loner who’s built impenetrable walls, even as I occasionally long to let someone in. Also like you, my position often makes it difficult not to blur lines. My aide, Max, whom you’ve met, is the closest thing I have to family. And yet, he’s in my direct chain of command. We always manage to maintain those dualities, but it isn’t easy.”
Emma gazed thoughtfully over Palmer’s head.
“That’s exactly right.” They finished the soup and the wait staff appeared again to replace the first course with a small beet salad with goat cheese and fresh, hot cornbread.
“Oh, my God. This is fabulous.” Palmer closed her eyes and savored a bite of the cornbread.
“I know, right? Horrible for my waistline, but it tastes so good.”
“You don’t need to worry about your figure…” The words were out before Palmer could take them back. The blush began at her chest and ran all the way up her neck to her ears and cheeks.
Emma threw her head back and laughed heartily. “I wish you could see your face.”
“And this is why I can’t go out in public,” Palmer mumbled unhappily.
“I’m not making fun of you. I think it’s endearing that a highly decorated military officer, who would rush into enemy fire without hesitation, gets tangled up over words.”
“Trust me, facing enemy fire is easier than a one-on-one conversation or having attention called to myself.”
“Nonsense,” Emma said, as she tucked into the salad. “You just need more practice.”
“Can we change the subject now?”
Get This Book On Amazon
When you use the links in this review and buy from Amazon within 24 hours of clicking then we get a small commission that helps us run the site and it costs you nothing extra.
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 978-1936429202
- Publisher: Phoenix Rising Press
- Lynn Ames Online
If you enjoyed this book then you should also look at
Note: I received a free review copy of 46 by Lynn Ames. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site.