Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls #3) by Ally Carter
Now that I've gotten "Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy" out of the way, it's on to the third book, and the next step in the overarching plot of the "Gallagher Girls" series. I have fond memories of this book and hope that it's still as good as I remember.
"Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover" opens at a political rally in Boston for presidential candidate Samuel Winters and his running mate, James McHenry. If the name McHenry sounds familiar, it should. James McHenry is Macey's dad. Macey invited her three best friends to visit her at the rally, but as it turned out, only Cammie was able to make it. We get a very amusing look at the goings-on at the convention through Cammie's eyes and also get to meet Preston Winters, Samuel's son.
Everything goes smoothly until Macey and Cammie are sent to floor "R" to film some kind of political ad. Preston has lost his agenda, so he goes with them, as does Charlie, a Secret Service agent. Floor "R," it turns out, is the roof, and there is no filming being done there. Instead, the teens are attacked by two men and a woman in a helicopter. The woman says, "Get her," and the men attack. Charlie is knocked unconscious, and Cammie gets Preston onto a window-washer's platform and sends him down several stories to keep him safe. However, she does not manage to send him down before he sees Cammie and Macey kicking the butts of their attackers and he is understandably intrigued.
After the attack, a Secret Service agent who is also a Gallagher Girl is assigned to watch Macey all day, every day, and the girls are forbidden to leave the building unless they are escorted. The attack on Macey gets a lot of media attention and so Macey ends up going off several times to other rallies, since her parents and their handlers have realized that the public concern for Macey will translate into votes.
Meanwhile, Cammie saw a ring that the woman was wearing and the design looks awfully familiar to her, if only she could remember where she's seen it before.
During the course of "Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover" we follow the campaign all the way until the night of the election (which is when Cammie puts all of the pieces together) and attend several Winters/McHenry campaign rallies, and yet we never figure out which political party Macey's father belongs to (if their world even has the same political parties we do). We know that he is of the opposite party from the one that the incumbent is in, since the theme of one of the rallies is that they are going to get America "back on track." I sometimes wonder whether that was a choice that Carter made to let readers who lean towards one party or the other not feel alienated by her choice. On the other hand, I also wonder if Carter intended it as a sort of commentary on the nature of political parties and speeches -- perhaps she is saying that politicians can talk all day without saying anything of substance and that as a result, both parties are pretty much interchangeable.
The plot arc of the series gets another push forward in "Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover," and there's some romance in this book as well. Zach returns (I won't say how, though), and Macey gets a little romance of her own.