Book Review: Off the Record by K.A. Linde


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OFF THE RECORD
by K.A. Linde
Record, #1
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Liz Dougherty has no idea a single question is about to change her life.

Her first big reporting assignment for her North Carolina college newspaper has her covering a state senator’s impromptu press conference. Brady Maxwell may have everything it takes to be a politician—a winning pedigree, devastating good looks, a body made to wear suits—but his politics rub Liz the wrong way. When Liz’s hard-hitting question catches the upstart senator off-guard, it impresses Hayden Lane, Liz’s editor who feels she’s headed for a promising career as a reporter.

But Liz is also headed into a secret romance with Brady that could destroy both their ambitions. Though he’s a bachelor, potential voters might frown on Brady cozying up to a reporter. And Liz isn’t sure sneaking around is enough for her—especially when things between her and Hayden might be less platonic than she thought.

Sleek, sexy, and smart, Off the Record ventures into a high-stakes campaign and an even higher-stakes affair to answer the question: When politics and love collide, can there ever be a winner?
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 4.5 STARS

There are only a few books that have made me zealously count down the days until their release, and Off the Record is one of them. The Scandal fan in me zeroed in on this book immediately, making grabby-hands at the "forbidden romance with a politician" story. I. Could. Not. Wait. And let me tell you, when I finally had him...Senator Brady Maxwell III did not disappoint.

He's young for a man at his position, yet impressive and ambitious. There's history and wealth to his name. Brady is every bit of the smooth, confident politician that I expected him to be. Because, you see, I expected the "nice, sweet guy". I don't know why, but I did. What I actually got was...yes, the Suit & Tie...but the Suit & Tie also had a dirty mouth. *squeals and claps hands* Behind closed doors, prim and proper Brady could be sexy, a little rough, and borderline smug. I loved that contrast between the two sides of his character. In book-love, there's just something irresistibly tempting about a guy having a secret side.
"Tell me you haven't been thinking about me pressed against your body, the feel of my lips kissing every inch of your skin, me thrusting in and out of you...If you can tell me that, then I'll let you go. No questions asked," he said, sitting back once more and crossing his arms. "Because I haven't stopped thinking about any of those things, and your flushed face tells me you haven't either."
And who brings out the naughty in Senator Maxwell? Liz Dougherty, aspiring college reporter. There's a bit of an age gap between Brady and Liz, and she's still in school, but there's plenty to like about her. Liz certainly has an it-factor that makes the "royalty falls for non-royalty" tale work. As the recipient of a prestigious scholarship, she's intelligent with a career-driven focus. Liz is independent, mature, and a talented writer...But...That professional, "good student" side of her is offset when she gives in to her emotions and lets herself enjoy the secret romance. Again, it's that contrast between well-behaved and uninhibited.

But let's go back a little, shall we? You might be asking, how did a relationship like this even start? As reporter and politician, there was a topic that Liz and Brady disagreed on, and she wasn't afraid to voice her opinion or ask the hard-hitting questions. (I love a feisty heroine. *cue witty banter and delicious tension*) There was a time in the beginning when Liz tried really hard to not like the guy, but a certain...encounter...starts to change all of that.
"Sometimes you really have to get to know a person before judging them so thoroughly."
"You're not going to change my mind about what I wrote, no matter how charming you are."
"So, you think I'm charming?" He asked with a smirk that said he already knew he was.
Before I knew it, I was getting swept off my feet and caught up in one high-class affair, with all of the luxury and indulgence that title entails. But whenever a heroine makes a 180 and becomes so undoubtedly infatuated with a guy, I can't help but stop and wonder, "Alright. Is he really a big deal?" I asked myself that while reading Off the Record, and there was a whole chapter where it ultimately hit me: Brady Maxwell III is a big deal. (There's a private lake house involved, okay.) Throughout the book, there were times when I was melting, in full-on squee and swoon territory. (When reading in bed, have you ever had to lean over and shriek incoherently into your pillow? I have.)

And I'll be pretty straightforward about something here...Brady and Liz had one helluva physical connection. Yes, that means a lot of sex. Yet, those scenes never felt repetitive...Different places, different circumstances...Author K.A. Linde made every time feel as feverish as the first time! I don't usually get into specifics of "bedroom scenes", but at the office late at night...it's a jaw-dropper and a panty-melter. Yes! I just went there! ;)

Alas, it can't all be pleasure. Any secret affair is bound to have its complications. How long can they last? Does she want more? Does he feel more? So, sneaking around in the middle of a political campaign is bound to weave the most complicated of webs. For instance, I reached a point where some of the allure and excitement began to wear off, and the need to keep things hush-hush felt too dirty little secret. My instincts were kicking me to feel outraged for her, at least irritated! After all, he has to be completely indifferent in public. And it sucks.
She felt extremely on edge...knowing she was essentially Brady's mistress.
No, he wasn't married. No, he wasn't dating anyone. No, she wasn't technically a mistress. But she was a secret and that was enough.
There's minor "triangle" action, as well. However, I'll point out that I never felt any sense of true betrayal. Liz's attraction to her editor, Hayden, simply emphasized how a normal, out-in-the-open relationship could be like. Isolation vs Camaraderie, as Liz put it. I was decidedly Team Brady, but I couldn't dislike Hayden either. Insert increase in angst here.
"We aren't doing what we started out doing anymore...," she told him, staring up into his dark, intense eyes.
"You're not leaving, Liz," he told her. She arched an eyebrow, wondering whether he was daring her. "I don't want that girl. I want you. Do you hear me? I want you."
I probably should've rooted for Hayden. But Brady knew how to knock a girl off her feet. Every. Damn. Time. He started out as just hot and seductive. I loved his little notes for Liz and the way he'd call her "baby". Then, he only got better. When I thought it might only be sex and business, Brady Maxwell III went and changed the game. And this is so important. He showed a more personal, casual side of himself to Liz. I got a glimpse of what their normal could look like and a glimmer of hope that they could work out. (...Maybe?...Please?)
"I've missed you," he told her, running his hand down her body.
"I've missed you, too," Liz responded, wondering whether she would always feel the pain of missing him and the heartache of waiting."
By the end, Off the Record had my stomach in knots, and it ached. So. Good. I anticipated being torn up about "Will they get caught?" and "What would be the consequences?", but I was torn up about much more than that by the time I reached the last page. Brady and Liz spent all that time together getting closer and closer, bringing themselves right up to the edge, but they just can't make that final leap and go all the way. They can never be official. Or can they?

Off the Record gripped every knot in my stomach and just pulled tight. Sleek, sexy, and sharp. I didn't want to put it down. Drawn in by the story and the characters, I found everything I wanted out of a forbidden romance. There was exhilaration in the stolen moments, followed by tension and complexity. I understood why they technically shouldn't be together, but also why both of them would even take such a risk. This is book one in the series, though, so their story is far from over. I'm only craving more! I can't wait to see what the author has next for Brady and Liz!
"I'll realize how much of a bad idea it is to get involved with you?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Something like that."
"Well, that's not true. I've already realized that."
"It's not a good idea." His voice lowered and he leaned toward her. "I'm not telling you that it's a good idea. But it's the only idea."

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