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DC is full of angles—political, powerful, dark and dangerous—and when I sat down to write my first DC based novel, I knew my characters would get into trouble. They didn’t disappoint. Plop a marriage down in DC, and something is going to happen. Here are nine stories that really tell you what it’s like to live and survive inside the beltway … because everyone assumes politicians are at best dishonest, and at worst, criminals. The staffers are eager over-achievers, with ID cards, and a drive to power. It’s a tough place for a marriage to survive.

The Widow by Kaira Rouda

My new thriller The Widow is set in DC and is inspired by the two years I spent on the Hill when my husband was serving in Congress, as well as the “Widow’s Mandate,” the unofficial tradition where women are either appointed or elected to fill their late husbands’ Congressional seats. In my novel, the Congressman’s wife realizes she just might not have to wait for her husband to die to gain the power she desires…

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

A light and hilariously snarky take on marriage by the author of Sleepless in Seattle. Based on the famous author’s real life, public break-up with Carl Bernstein, this one is a classic, even if some of the plot feels a little dated today. The pain and heartbreak that infidelity causes are timeless.

Admit This to No One by Leslie Pietrzyk

A group of women connected to the Speaker of the House, either professionally or otherwise, set the stage for this insider DC story. These stories show how DC’s true currency is power, and this particular tale examines what happens when the bonds of family and duty are pushed to the limit. An eye-opening, sometimes shocking read.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza 

What’s it like to run for Senate in an election that will decide the balance of power in Congress? Charlotte Walsh uproots her Silicon Valley based family and returns to the Pennsylvania rust belt with her family to find out. Deemed THE novel for the 2018 midterms, it grippingly explores just how dirty politics has become as opponents thoroughly embrace the politics of personal destruction. It’s timely, and unfortunately, still true.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, the romance novel DC didn’t know it needed 

If you’re looking for a bit of a lighter DC-based read, look no further than this instant New York Times bestseller. I loved it. Here’s the set-up: What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? This is a purely fun, brilliant and escapist read.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

DC is populated by young people just like newlyweds Beth and Matt, who is filled with political ambition. Beth, is not. This book is an insider’s look at young, desperate DC, by an author with insider insights and outsider instincts. You know I like that.

The Lost Diary of M, by Paul Wolfe

A gripping novel that imagines what Mary Pinchot Meyer’s diary would have revealed if the CIA hadn’t burned it. She had a love affair with JFK, and was mysteriously murdered in 1964. Part love story, part thriller, and all Cold War DC setting, it’s a great read.

Exclusive by Sandra Brown

Political thriller revolving around America’s First Lady and her old friend, an intrepid reporter who will do anything to get to the truth. But delving into the private lives of the president and his wife isn’t encouraged, of course. You’ll enjoy this fast-paced tale from a master of suspense.

The President is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton

And speaking of presidents, Bill Clinton and James Patterson joined forces to deliver a fast paced, insider information filled thriller. And, you should follow that up with State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton about a president and his new Secretary of State, Ellen Adams, who must race to save America from a horrifying threat.

Happy Reading, DC style.