What inspired you to write Sexual Politics? I heard an interesting Behind the Music story on CBC Radio 2 one day. The wife of Former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, caused a scandal when she disappeared for seven days and seven nights without word to hang out with the Rolling Stones in New York City. When Margaret was eventually located, at their hotel with them, eyebrows shot even higher. Under pressure to return to her waiting husband, she promptly flew home and announced she wanted to get her own apartment in NYC and commute back and forth to Ottawa.
This story made my mind race. It wasn’t exactly your typical political scandal where the husband cheats and the stoic wife stands at his side, a rock, even if a bitter one. I started to think about how I could play with the traditional script. Whether Margaret was innocent or not, the speculation remains. It inspired me to create Justine and the chaos that results when you flip the norm on its edge.
I remember hearing that story and the interesting gender flip. What types of books do you enjoy reading? What is on your nightstand? I read everything, fiction and nonfiction alike. At the moment, I’m finishing The Cuckoo’s Calling, the detective novel penned by JK Rowling’s alter-ego, Robert Galbraith.
Tell me about your favorite place to write. What makes it special? My office is in the large dormer off our bedroom. The room opens to my left. There’s a large double window to my right looking down out driveway and into the woods, and behind me are two large, full bookshelves. It’s a very pleasant and bright place to work.
Sounds beautiful. Since a musician helped inspire this story, do you listen to music when you write? If so, what? No. I want absolute quiet while I write. I need to be in my zone. No distractions. I do like to find songs that seem to capture my stories though. I’ve usually got one or two picked out for them and I will listen to them when I want to get into the proper mood.
Let’s play “Dump the purse” – what’s in yours? Believe it or not, I only carry a little coin purse with a little cash and my ID most of the time. That’s it.
I’m impressed! If your hero or heroine were babysitting my kids (age 6 & 10) what would the night be like? I think you’d come home to find Sean and Justine have taken a lot of wonderful pictures for you. They’d get the kids to dress up and pretend. Most beautiful of all though, would be the portraits he took that capture their true personalities. Sean’s hired!
We’re at a bar with your hero and heroine, what are they drinking? Champagne or wine. Nice
Dessert time! Give me your “either—or” answers
- Chocolate, fruit or other? Chocolate
- Warm or cold? Cold
- Buttercream or fondant? Buttercream
- Cookies or brownies? Brownies
- With nuts or without? No nuts.
Perfect! Let’s run off and get dessert before my kids stuff a chair into that tiny coin purse, but first, please share more about Sexual Politics and let my readers know where to find you.
Is the scandal worth it? Only she can answer that. For two years Justine Hubbard has played the supportive wife role for her husband in public…and nowhere else. Senator Gary Hubbard’s philandering ended her love for him. But sometimes there are reasons people decide to maintain the illusion of a happy marriage when the relationship is over. Living a lie until after the election wasn’t an issue—until she met Sean O’Donnell. She can’t fool the perceptive photographer. He understands her. He wants her. After feeling invisible to her husband, that’s an intoxicating discovery. But having condemned her husband for his hushed affairs, it would be hypocritical to give in to her desire for Sean. All it would take is a whisper of scandal for her husband’s political enemies to bring him down. She wouldn’t dream of sacrificing Gary’s career, their causes, and her own good name. But how can she stay away from Sean now that she’s fallen for him?
The senator put his arm around his wife while she stood, frozen, her smile brittle on the edges. “Justine is a big patron of the arts. I’m glad she found someone interesting to talk to tonight. She hates these functions.”
Sean smiled tightly, noting her discomfort. “She’s not the only one.”
“Yes, well…” The senator rubbed his hands together. “The sooner I get out of here, the sooner I can get home.”
Sean felt the next perfunctory kiss was for his benefit. His heart went out to her.
“Don’t wait up,” the senator said to his wife.
One more insincere handshake with Sean and the man was gone.
She seemed to shrink, as if letting go of the tension took an inch off her height. “I think he forgot to call for my car.”
“I’m just about to leave. Would you like to share a cab?”
The corner of her mouth twitched and she nodded, her lovely hazel eyes shining, though not a tear fell.
They ditched their glasses and headed to the atrium. Twice his hand strayed automatically toward the small of her back as they walked. He had to remind himself not to touch her.
Collecting their coats, he helped her into hers then slipped on his own, winding his slate gray scarf around his neck.
He didn’t hesitate to offer his arm on the way out. Her high heels demanded it. Even though the sidewalk had clearly been shoveled once already, snow continued to fall, the scattered salt leaving circular patterns of melt amidst the slick. The doorman waved a cab forward and opened the door for them. Sean helped her into the back then slid in after her.
The doorman shut them in as Sean adjusted his long coat on the seat around him. “Let’s drop you off first.”
“All right.” She leaned forward and gave the cabbie her address.
* * * *
Justine was hyper aware of O’Donnell’s hand resting on the seat not eight inches from hers as they rode across the city. If they both stretched out a pinky, they might even touch. Beyond handshakes, she hadn’t touched a man in so long. Gary no longer counted. He only touched her in public. After his second brief affair, she’d insisted.
Her life, her marriage, her husband—all of it was a sham.
Glancing surreptitiously at Sean O’Donnell as he watched the scenery pass, she was struck by how handsome he was, in a completely natural way. There was no hint of product in his hair to tame and control the wayward curls flaring out behind his ears. If anyone gave Gary’s hair a little pat it would shift on his head like one solid, perfect helmet.
Even though it was faint, she could smell Old Spice coming off her quiet seatmate. It made her smile. Ah, memories. Back in the day, she used to love that aftershave. Gary only wore expensive cologne.
Sean cleaned up nicely, but she could tell he was as uncomfortable with the public side of his life as she was with hers. There was something genuine about him. After living with a facsimile of a human being for seven years, that was an attractive quality to have.
The cab turned onto her street and she began to worry the purse in her lap. Their ride had taken no time at all. They pulled to the curb in front of her townhouse and she started to open the clasp on her purse for her share of the fare. That’s when Sean O’Donnell finally touched her bare hand, stopping her.
“It was on the way,” he said.
He exited the car then held the door, assisting her out. “I’ll walk you up.”
Afraid it would feel too much like the end of an awkward date, she declined his offer, though she appreciated his consideration. “That isn’t necessary.”
“Don’t forget, the Russell Gallery. I hope to see you there, Mrs. Hubbard.”
Flattered, she laughed softly. “I’ll be there. But please, call me Justine.”
She liked how his eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled. “Sean.”
“Thank you for the ride.”
“My pleasure. Goodnight, Justine.” He stood there, silent and seemingly unaffected by the large, fluffy snowflakes settling on his hair and shoulders.
“Goodnight, Sean.” Feeling a blush coming on, she hurried up her front steps and slipped her key in the lock. He was still watching over her from the open car door when she turned on the light and stepped into the foyer. Lifting her hand, she gave him a final parting wave.
Nodding once in return, he dipped his head and got back into the taxi.
As the car pulled away, she fell against the door and turned the deadbolt, her heart racing in a thrilling and inappropriate way.
About the Author, Tara Mills
I’m a pampered wife, adoring mom, incurable romantic, and a contemporary romance novelist. I’m also a lousy driver and have OCD tendencies. I’ve been called perky and cute most of my life. Can’t help that. I’m a morning person. Yep, that’s proven incurable too. If you enjoy stories with heart, heat, a bit of suspense, and plenty of humor, I’ve got a story for you.