Meet You in the Middle

Berkley. Sept. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780593199213. pap. $16. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
DEBUT When liberal Senate staffer Kate Adams tries to get bipartisan support for a childcare bill, she is shot down by conservative Ben Mackenzie, her counterpart in an opposing senator’s office. After an unproductive meeting, a rivalry develops and their continual attempts to one-up each other take a flirty edge as opposites attract and their relationship grows into something more. Debut author Daniels includes an author’s note about trying to find common ground after the 2016 presidential election, but she fails in this book. Aside from taxes, she side-steps every hot-button issue except gun control, but Ben’s stance is quickly explained away by his need to protect everyone around him after his sister was date-raped. He continually dismisses Kate’s valid fears over their political differences and their “witty banter” is often immature and unprofessional. Kate’s first-person narration is a disservice to readers—her words and actions are often at odds. Her insecurity leaves readers wondering what Ben sees in her, while she views him through rose-colored glasses. While Ben reveals depth and nuance, Kate is the only character to show any growth, as she bends to meet him.
VERDICT Noble intentions can’t save this opposites-attract romance from its inability to examine the differences at play.
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