I would like to thank Tasha/Heidenkind from Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books for making me read this one, albeit in a very oblique way :). Here you can find her excellent review.
Taylor Donovan loves nothing better than the sound of a bustling law office and a a grande skim latte with two Splendas first thing in the morning. She ‘s been sent by Gray & Dallas, a top-ranked law firm from Chicago, to Los Angeles to litigate a highly publicized class-action sexual harassment case. It is also a kind of a test – she has to prove she is a prime partner material, not only a gorgeous litigation associate babe, even if it means burning the midnight oil and forgetting about your private life for a while. Fortunately for Taylor there’s no other speed than full throttle – and it suits her fine.
Then there is a spoke put right in her well-oiled, fast-spinning wheel. Just three weeks before the trial she is asked to babysit a devilishly handsome, twenty-five-million-dollar-per-picture Hollywood movie star, Jason Andrews. He is preparing for a role in a legal thriller and wants to see some real professionals in action. According to Sam Blakely, Taylor’s L.A. superior, it is an excellent client development opportunity; according to Taylor catering to spoiled celebrities to the likely detriment of her motions it is a sadistic joke; still she fully intends to show everybody that she takes crap from no man, not even the so-called ‘sexiest man alive’, AND she is more than up to every task anybody throws her way.
Soon the sparks are flying pretty high. Mr. Andrews stands Taylor up two times in a row and never bothers with an explanation, let alone an apology – in her eyes something tantamount to a double infanticide with premeditation. How are they supposed to work together after that? Still work together they must – he has a role to prepare for and she has an angry boss with a lot of influential friends reminding her constantly of her newest chore. How will it end?
After reading this one I finally understand why people around blogosphere have been praising Julie James. If I’d read Just the Sexiest Man Alive as the first of her books I would have praised her a bit myself. A tiny little bit but still. Look at the cover – it is good as it shows the main assets of the novel.
Set the impossibly selfish, spoiled and arrogant Hollywood movie star against a sassy, mouthy and clever lawyer who has never lost a case yet. Add an enemy actor vying for the attention of the same woman and a friend in a form of a screenwriter to the mix. Shake well. Serve chilled with some bubbles of laughter. What can go wrong? Not much, right? Even the fact that all the characters, literally ALL of them, were, as usual, obnoxiously and predictably handsome/beautiful didn’t disturb me a lot, I think mainly because of the setting. People working and living in Hollywood and L.A. , especially actors and other members of the movie industry, are simply expected to be obsessed with good looks, aren’t they? Of course I kept wondering from time to time why such a busy, down-to-earth lawyer as Taylor simply had to have long, wavy hair, very ‘high maintenance’ so to speak, and how come she managed to preserve her impeccable, supermodel silhouette while living mostly on junk food, stress and coffee but these were just momentary lapses of reason, nothing serious.
Generally I think James had her best moments in this book. I liked the quote below (one of rare lucid comments of Jason, the movie prince) quite well as it sounded surprisingly real:
“People think they know you because the magazines portray you a certain way, or because you’ve played a particular part in a movie. And most of the people who supposedly are close to you don’t care about who you really are anyway, because to them you’re just a product, a commodity to sell. So it’s not real. None of it’s real.”
Apart from that the author tried to show the pros and cons of being rich and famous in Hollywood (a pro: you can reserve a table for you and your friends at any restaurant you like at a moment’s notice; a con: hordes of paparazzi and deranged fans might wait for you outside afterwards).
What’s more the main female lead had two female friends she was actually keeping in touch with so she wasn’t surrounded by a gaggle of hot guys all the time– well-done and thank heavens! There were some funny scenes and witty dialogues which always do wonders to any novel, even a pesky romance. An example:
““Back to reality.” Taylor sighed. “Good old apartment living.”
“You know, you could just ask the next time you want to sleep over. You don’t need to crash your car.”
Taylor laughed, relieved to see him joking again. He’d been so quiet all day, she had begun to worry that something was really wrong.
“I’ll remember that,” she told him. She was about to thank him for letting her stay over when it happened again—a shrill ring blared out from her purse. Cellphonus interruptus.”
Yeah. Pretty decent for Julie James.
Still near the ending the novel went mildly but consistently downhill. There was that very strange concussion received as a result of a strangely benign accident, landing both Taylor and Jason cozily ensconced in his gorgeous villa. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, here I quite agree with Tasha/Heidenkind: it was one of the cheesiest Pride and Prejudice moments adapted to our contemporary sensibilities – the girl went, the girl saw, the girl decided ‘I want this man, he is rich enough to tempt me’.
Overall at the end Taylor, the tough-as-old-boots lawyer working seven eleven, disappeared or rather she turned into a glittering socialite without one good reason offered (unless you count her romantic interest of course). It was so weird when, for all her drinking, attending parties, flirting with stars, donning cool dresses and shoes, she was made finally a partner. Oh yes, she won that class-action case but it became almost like a hobby or an in-between activity, just a page filler, not her main occupation. The bad guy was very conveniently melting into the crowd when our main leads didn’t need him anymore… the good guy, Jason’s close friend, was doing practically the same…oh well. If you want to read masterpieces go and borrow a Tolstoy or a Marquez.
It was easily the best, the funniest and the most logical book of Julie James I’ve read so far. I think I will never be her fan but now at least I understand why she’s become so popular. Her first book, published back in 2008, wasn’t that bad, the true disasters came later…which is kind of sad too.