Barbara King is a popular daytime anchor at the Phoenix, a third place cable news channel with the tagline No Filters No Fluff. She's really just marking time until she can get a coveted prime time spot and then move back to the better respected networks. Her husband is a stock analyst who really wants to quit and be a poet and they have a young son who Barbara adores. She'd like another child eventually but doesn't want to derail her career. She is decidedly not thrilled to discover that the channel is bringing in a co-anchor to report with her but it quickly becomes obvious that she and Jack Stone, who is smart and sexy, mesh beautifully on camera. Their chemistry, respective looks and intelligence, combined with the perfect producer, come together to drive their ratings up and up. The on-air chemistry spills over into their off-air friendship and flirtation and soon Barbara is balancing her growing feelings for her television husband with her ambition and sense of fair play at a channel that is moving further and further from unbiased and climbing up the ratings chart as a result.
Set just before, during, and after September 11, this novel, a very thinly veiled tale of the ascendancy of Fox News, illustrates the shift the news industry underwent (which continues today) while also showcasing the backstabbing, cutthroat life of anchors. Barbara is painted as incredibly attractive, smart, and quick on her feet. Her insistence on remaining impartial as an anchor is obviously the deeply moral stance but her escalating crush on Jack makes her human rather than perfect. Jack comes across as boyishly appealing while the up and coming Sloane, Barbara's producing nemesis who rockets through the ranks at the station on her way to being in charge, is nothing but bad. She's portrayed one dimensionally as nasty, conniving, and greedy. The insider look at the television news industry is interesting for sure although the will they or won't they story line between Barbara and Jack is pretty predictable and cliched and the whole of the plot is less nuanced than might be hoped. A light and fairly superficial story about the media, ambition, and bias, those looking for a peek behind the television cameras, those who wonder how our news became less informative and more partisan, and those who want all of this wrapped up with sexual tension should enjoy the tale.
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Thanks to the publisher and BookSparks PR for sending me a copy of the book for review.