This one-time romance novelist could be the next U.S. secretary of Agriculture

The next U.S. secretary of Agriculture could be Susan Combs, a Texas politician who published a steamy erotic novel in 1990, Politico reports.

Combs, former state agriculture commissioner and comptroller of Texas, met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Tuesday, leading some political observers to speculate that she could be named to head the Department of Agriculture. While Combs is best known in Texas as a popular relatively moderate Republican, her past (and brief) career as a romance novelist raised some eyebrows when she ran for Texas state comptroller in 2006. In that election, Combs' Democratic opponent Fred Head attacked her now out-of-print romance novel "A Perfect Match," calling it "pornographic."

Head's attack didn't work. Combs defeated him in a landslide.

"A Perfect Match" tells the story of Emily Brown, a National Security Agency code breaker who falls in love with the bodyguard assigned to protect her after she intercepts a message with dangerous information.

A particularly steamy passage from Combs' novel is posted on Head's campaign website, which is still online.

"She felt his chest rising unsteadily and heard his rapid intake of breath," it reads. "His lips sucked gently at the curve of her neck, his tongue brushed against the lobe of her ear then plunged inside.... She needed him to fill the aching void at her center."

In a post at the New Republic, writer Michelle Legro seemed unimpressed by Head's claims that he was scandalized by the book: "That an adult woman had expressed her sexuality by writing in a public forum, in a manner that was neither illegal or demeaning to others, was portrayed as scandalous by her Democratic opponent in the 2006 comptroller’s race."

Combs isn't the first politician to publish a romance novel. Stacey Abrams, the House minority leader of the Georgia state assembly, has written eight romantic thrillers under the pen name Selena Montgomery, including "Deception," "Hidden Sins" and "The Art of Desire."

It remains to be seen whether Combs and President-elect Trump are a perfect match. Politico calls her a "dark-horse" candidate for the USDA job, suggesting that Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter might have clearer paths to the position.

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