My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Julie James’ first book, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, didn’t do much for me. Fortunately, Practice Makes Perfect worked better for me, otherwise I’d have seriously regretted buying three ebooks of hers at once!
The driving character conflict here has a bit more substance than the first book, which helps. We’ve got our heroine, Payton, who works for the same law firm as our hero, J.D., and it’s established right out of the gate that they vociferously dislike each other. (Which is of course, in Romancelandia, code for “they will be snogging each other’s faces off before we’re halfway through the book”.) The situation is decidedly Not Improved when they discover that someone in the firm is going to get a promotion–but there’s only one promotion slot available. And guess which two members of the firm are up for consideration? They are, of course, forced to work together on a Supremely Important Case, all the while trying very hard to pretend they aren’t noticing one another. With interest.
Though I did like this one better than the first, still, though, this one plays as awfully heteronormative to me. Payton’s supposed to be a strident feminist, while J.D. stays just far enough on the good line of the line between “conversative” and “outright sexist jerk” that I did make it to the end of the book without wanting to punch him. So a lot of the conflict between them is driven by their perceptions of each other’s gender politics, but it’s presented in such a simplistic way that I wound up having a strange reaction to it–I was all “wait, there are still novels that have such watered-down gender politics as their character conflict?” And then I remembered that, yeah, well, these things still happen in real life, so. And some readers may get their first exposure to these sorts of questions through even such light fare as a romance novel.
But to get back to the overall point, even given the very standard conversative-boy-vs.-liberal-girl conflict, I did enjoy reading this. The main plot of how well Payton and J.D. handle the case they have to handle together is enjoyable enough, and I did like how they eventually ferret out the original cause of their animosity towards each other. Not a terribly substantial book overall, but a perfectly acceptable light read. Three stars.