It’s November 3, 2020, and Emma McMasters has just been elected the 46th president of the United States. She’s facing a divided Congress and nation, allies that no longer trust America, enemies that have been emboldened, and the legacy of destruction left by the last administration. She must rebuild and reestablish trust in government, in the media, and in the electoral system, all the while carrying the mantle of first female president, and along with it, the hopes and dreams of millions of women and little girls who need her to prove that a woman can get the job done.
Palmer Estes has devoted her life and her career to the military, rising to become the highest-ranking female officer in the US Army. An enigmatic, battle-tested hero, she’s the perfect choice to brief the new president on one last, urgent, highly sensitive mission before she retires.
Two strong women, both driven to serve the country they love, neither prepared for the sparks that fly between them.
REVIEWS: What reviewers are saying
A fictional lesbian US President to give the world hope
46 by Lynn Ames is a romance full of political intrigue that highlights love’s ability to bring out the best in two people.
It’s November of 2020 and Emma McMasters has just been elected the 46th president of the United State. It’s a monumental moment in history. Emma is facing a daunting task. The country has never been more divided. Congress is paralyzed by partisanship, America has lost many of its allies, and hatred towards immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community is at an all-time high. Emma has to restore the people’s faith in government and the media post haste while under the scrutiny of being the first female president. She’s got to prove that a woman can get the job done and silence her detractors.
Palmer Estes is the only female four-star general in the United States Army. She’s served her country well. As the top advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff she’s tasked with briefing the incoming president on one last sensitive mission before she retires.
During tense moments in the Situation Room, Emma and Palmer work in perfect sync. They’re very attracted to each other, but that poses a multitude of complications. As Commander in Chief, Emma can’t pursue a relationship with one of her subordinates. Palmer has spent her military career in the closet and doesn’t want coming out to overshadow her life’s work. Scandal is something both women must avoid at all costs. Even after Palmer retires, both women know the press would have a field day covering their courtship and that would be powerful fodder for Emma’s right-wing critics. On top of all that, Emma is still healing from the tragic death of her wife just three years ago.
Can two strong women find a way to follow their hearts while serving the country they love?
Emma and Palmer have everything going for them. They complement each other perfectly. They are noble and strong, beautiful and smart, and drumroll please – over 50. They are the type of characters that are universally appealing, yet they have their own insecurities which make them feel attainable. Did I mention they are over 50? I’m always happy to read a book featuring “mature” leading ladies because it makes me feel seen.
Emma McMasters sets the standard for all future main characters for me. She is commanding in every way which makes sense – she’s successfully become the first female president, and she’s done it while being a lesbian. Everything about her is extraordinary yet she’s down to earth and approachable. She’s a cross between Wonder Woman and your college roommate who always needs a sympathetic ear. I know, she sounds too perfect. There’s a side to Emma who many people don’t get to see. There’s a part of her who desperately misses her wife and carries with her the guilt over Heather’s death. Palmer helps her move past that. Palmer is the rock Emma didn’t know she needed. As the story plays out, the reader gets to see the woman behind the presidency. She’s self-deprecating and sometime unsure. She’s vehemently protective of Palmer while being completely smitten. I love things like that about Emma, and I think I’m a bit smitten with her myself.
Palmer Estes is equally intriguing. She has a quiet, resolute strength about her. She’s proven herself a hero on the field of battle, a brilliant tactician, and an inspiring mentor. It’s lovely to see such an accomplished woman get tongue tied each time she’s with Emma. At 56, she’s spent the majority of her military career under the egis of, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Because of this, she has next to no experience with women. There’s a vulnerability to Palmer that makes for an interesting character arc. She’s extremely protective of Emma and it’s more than just serving her Commander in Chief. A part of her she didn’t know existed comes to life when she first locks eyes with Emma. Intimacy isn’t something the military drills into its soldiers so watching Palmer navigate a romantic relationship for the first time is heartwarming.
The Writing Style
The plot grabs the reader’s attention from the beginning, and the story only gets more captivating as the pages turn. There is so much political intrigue interwoven with the romance it was almost impossible to put the book down. Ames serves up a full-on nail-biter of a situation right off the bat. I was hooked! This device was a perfect way for Emma and Palmer to observe each other under pressure. It allowed them to see beneath the facades they may have presented if they had started dating under more natural circumstances. The pacing never lets up. There’s no lull in the narrative for a convenient bathroom break because when your main character is the president of the United States every minute counts.
The attention to detail in 46 is mindboggling. It’s clear that Ames did her homework when writing this book. She doesn’t just present a full cast of generals and cabinet members with complex situations to solve and dynamic legislation to carry out. Every aspect down to the china used at a meal or the books in a character’s bookcase is precise and authentic. To say the world created in 46 is realistic would be a huge understatement. For me, every scene was larger than life and the story’s still playing through my mind like a favorite movie. I’m a political junkie so 46 was right up my alley.
Ames approached 46 with class. She has a very liberal stance on politics which is in line with my own. It would have been very easy to take pot shots at the 45th president of the United States. This book could’ve been filled with a laundry list of shortcomings and injustices, but Ames focuses on the changes that President McMasters is going to make. Ames concentrates on the policies Emma wants to enact and her honorable character and never once mentions Emma’s predecessor by name.
I’ve never been one for “insta-love”. Due to circumstances beyond their control, Emma and Palmer don’t get to have a traditional dating/courtship phase. I missed that. It’s justified because, you know, Emma is the president of the United States of America. It’s not like she and Palmer can go out for dinner and a movie without mobilizing the Secret Service and alerting the press. Once I was willing to acknowledge this, I moved past missing the drawn out falling in love part and enjoyed this romance in its unusual context.
Goodness, I only got about five pages into 46 before I started crying. They were the best kind of tears. I was so moved to read about a woman addressing the country on the night she’s been elected as the first female President of United States. I’ve been waiting for that reality my entire life so to see it captured so perfectly reduced me to a puddle of tears. This happened throughout the book. The story is filled with all the typical acts the POTUS takes part in, and Emma McMasters carries out every task with the grace and dignity I long for. Ames writes this tale with such authenticity I felt like I was reading non-fiction. The fact the book is also an endearing romance is an added bonus. This story made me feel good. It’s the exact book I needed for this moment in time. If you’re looking for a world where a decent and honorable person is living in the White House, 46 is a good place to start.
~ The Lesbian Review,
Review of ’46’ by Lynn Ames
This book got my attention starting with the title and cover but I wasn’t completely sold on until I read the acknowledgments. I could not resist the author’s idea of ‘after this extraordinary time of divisiveness (…) my job [is] to shine light in the darkness, to give readers hope. 46 is my love letter to all of you’. A liberal politician? Yes, please. A woman? Yes, indeed. A lesbian US President?! Absolutely sold.
In November 2020, Emma McMasters is elected the 46th president of the United States, the first woman, and a lesbian. She has a challenging future in front of her, rebuilding the country from the disaster of the previous administration and establishing a liberal agenda. Palmer Estes is the highest-ranking female officer in the US Army who dedicated her whole life to her military career and to defend her country. When they meet during a hostage crisis, an undeniable attraction is born but love and politics aren’t usually compatible…
There are two things that really surprised me about this book. One is the level of detail and thorough research involved in the descriptions of settings, administrative procedures, governmental agencies, military operations, etc. The other is the fact that it is very well written. This shouldn’t surprise me at all, as Lynn Ames is a seasoned author but somehow she flew under my radar. I read and liked ‘All that lies within’ but missed everything else, an omission that I plan to rectify soon.
If you are looking for a book with behind the scenes politics, a bit of action and power struggle but with a feel-good, positive (idealistic) message, ’46’ is for you. I absolutely loved all the ceremonial, governmental and administrative details, but I majored in Political Science so, it might be a bit too much for someone who’s not interested in this subject. Beyond that, the idea of a lesbian US president is something that any lesfic reader can easily approve and Emma McMasters is a great, larger than life character.
Even though the balance between politics and the main characters’ relationship will satisfy romance readers, for me, their chemistry is a bit lacking and the overall romantic plot feels a bit rushed. In my opinion, the romantic arc needed more passion, better intimate scenes, and a more gradual build of their relationship. In that case, it would have been an easy 5-star rating for me. Having said that, ’46’ is a very entertaining and enjoyable politics novel with a hopeful message that is so much needed in these current times. I wish that I could see a lesbian US President in my lifetime. In the meantime, we have lesbian fiction to keep on dreaming. 4.5 stars.
- Gaby Maurino,
Review of ’46’ by Lynn Ames
This book is equal parts a political drama, a social statement and a romance.
The 46th President of the US, elected in 2020 is fifty-two year old Emma McMasters, an out lesbian. She had an over three decades long relationship with Heather. But Heather, Emma’s wife, was killed in an accident three years ago and ever since then Emma has been wedded to her work. Emma is charismatic, compassionate and intelligent. Fifty-six year old Palmer Estes has spent her life in the military and is now the top advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At sixteen, when she was just discovering her sexuality, she was caught, berated, verbally abused and disowned by her father. Since then she has hardly had any romantic relationships.
The story follows Emma’s political journey and her fishbowl existence with the romance between the two very strong women excellently interwoven into the narrative.
Emma and Palmer are incredibly beautiful humans with such a great relationship. They talk. Couples who talk and who listen to each other are quite our kryptonite. And these two talk about everything – about themselves and their relationship. Given that they both are 50+ this jells perfectly. As does the fact that they recognise their feelings for each other fairly early and do not dally around after that. It is a fact that after a point in life, you just don’t want to play either the waiting game or really any game.
There are so many subtleties that are awesome. Like the fact that Emma is willing to chuck being careful to be with Palmer and Palmer makes sure that she takes care of the optics for Emma. This is such beautiful love. Like when Palmer stands up for her girlfriend against her father. Like Emma’s sense of humour. Like Palmer’s talk about Heather with Emma. Like Emma’s steadfastness when Palmer is dealing with her mother. Like Emma going out on a limb initially despite being the most powerful person on earth. Like both of them being vulnerable with each other. Like the fact that it is entirely possible (from the way it is described) that at fifty-six, Palmer probably has slept with a woman just once -- and that (we mean decades or even a lifetime) without sex is a real thing in many lives and it is nice to have it kind or acknowledged here without judgement.
Balancing Emma’s presence was a difficult task, but Ames makes Palmer an equal person and personality.
We’d definitely recommend this for great writing, a wonderful relationship and a President so awesome that we’d most certainly vote for her.
Review of ’46’ by Lynn Ames
“46” finds a liberal, intelligent and principled lesbian as the President elect just as she takes the oath to undo the divisive and destructive leftovers of 45. With a lawyer’s background, a sharp mind and the legacy of her deceased wife’s dreams, she is determined to reunite the country and re-ignite the honest pride of America in what really makes it great. Just what we need to give us hope for a better future.
As always with Lynn Ames’ books you can tell immediately that it’s been extremely well researched and checked to within an inch of its life. The situations and players are realistic and the drama of the politics, situation room and interaction with the military are a great platform to showcase the two main characters. I have to admit I could have read double the politics just to see Emma at work overcoming both the legacy and the politicking of Washington. How a president can play the game but achieve their goals is an intriguing question as we saw with the wonderful Mr O.
The romance is, as always with Ms Ames, an instant attraction but slow burn. Emma and Palmer, the 4 star general she falls for, are wonderful women, dedicated to a life of service and paying the price for their choice; Emma constantly in the public eye, under threat and scrutiny at all times, Palmer with the legacy of the “don’t ask don’t tell” era written into her army DNA.
An uplifting read, giving hope that we could see the horrors of the last 4 years rolled back, reminding us that there are honest politicians who want the best for the country not for themselves. As we roll towards November Mr Biden now has a lot to live up to.
~ The Lesbian Reading Room,
REVIEWS: What readers are saying
Resonates with Authenticity
Lynn Ames is a gifted storyteller whether writing romance, historical fiction or romantic comedy. 46 is Ames’ latest in a long line of varied and compelling novels. Her stories resonate with an authenticity that leaps off the page because of the attention to detail and obvious research that is poured into each book. 46 takes it into overdrive.
46 is a page turner and we are engulfed in the frantic pace of a President in the Situation Room, cabinet meetings, Oval Office as well as the more relaxed White House Residence with a stunning attention to detail and realism. ~ Lynne Krause
Another Great Read from Lynn Ames
I have been waiting for this book to be available. I was not disappointed, except when the book ended. I wanted more. Lynn Ames is a classic...great ideas, great characters, incredible research...and just a lovely story. Her recent books have been a history class. I can only hope that this one comes true! Write on, Lynn! Waiting for the next one! ~ KY Coffin
The "46" We Need & Want
When I read a Lynn Ames book, I always know she gave it her best and that's what her readers always get. Funny thing about the superlative "best" though, because her best gets better each and every time. She writes about things that deserve to have stories written about them, but they're always stories we want to hear. This one is no different, written with Ames's usual intelligence, obvious research and attention to detail.
It's a story about morals and ethics and how a new president in these wrought time tries to heal the country while trying to put the pieces of her own heart back together. This is a poignant and touching look at two women who have fragile hearts, but need to find a way for their hearts and souls to be made whole again.
In less than 24 hours, this book made me feel optimistic about where we're headed. Brava, Lynn Ames! ~ Gayle Teller
Lynn Ames created a true masterpiece. The characters grab your heart and never let go. Read this book. You will forever be glad that you did. ~ Carter Steele