Practice Makes Perfect, by Julie James

>> Saturday, October 05, 2013

TITLE: Practice Makes Perfect
AUTHOR: Julie James

PAGES: 304

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romance

When it comes to the laws of attraction, there are no rules The battle between the sexes is about to make these two lawyers hot under the collar. Opposites collide when two lawyers try to make partner at the same firm. Payton Kendall is a feminist to the bone. Cocky J.D. Jameson was born privileged. But when they’re asked to join forces on a major case, they gain a newfound awareness of each other’s personal assets. The partnership spot will be offered to only one of them, though. The competition heats up. Sparks fly. Let the games begin.

Julie James has fast become one of my favourite authors. This one, however, took me a while to pick up. The plot, you see, has our lawyer heroine and hero competing for a partnership at the law firm where they work. Only one of them can make it, and it's understood that whichever of them doesn't will have to leave for another job, tail tucked between their legs. So, battle of the sexes, I thought, and my enthusiasm waned. Much as I love romance as a genre, this is not an issue it's tended to do well.

And then I bought my lawyer sister all of Julie James' books to date for her birthday, and after reading Practice Makes Perfect she a) was moved to write her first fan letter ever, and b) started badgering me to read it too.

Well, I liked this and enjoyed the read very much, but it's far from my favourite book by this author, and I'm still waiting for a romance which does the 'battle of the sexes' plot in a way that doesn't bother me (come to think of it, it's probably impossible).

So, anyway, Payton Kendall (this is our heroine, I feel like I should clarify, as the names are pretty androgynous) and JD Jameson (yes, the hero) have both worked their asses off to earn that partnership. Both feel they deserve it more than the other. Payton thinks (correctly) that JD's privileged upbringing and possession of a penis give him an advantage she has to work extra hard to compensate for. He (infuriatingly) is all resentful about the law firm's stated intention to have more female partners, which he feels unfairly gives Payton an advantage and amounts to reverse discrimination (fuck you, JD). Yes, JD can be quite the arsehole in the early sections of the book.

They start out as rivals, even pulling pranks on each other which end up being quite hilarious, mainly because James succeeds in presenting them as not malicious, just things that should be pretty minor and just annoying, but which accidentally end up being a lot bigger than intended. It helps that both are confident and brilliant enough to be able to cope with the consequences, especially Payton.

And then they're both assigned to work on the same project, and with enforced contact, they get to know each other better, and realise that beneath the confrontational fa├žades they've been presenting to each other, and the superficial facts about their lives, they're a lot more similar in what really matters than they had expected.

So in the end, it does work as a romance. It's not perfect, and the ending left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. First, there's a revelation that comes out about something JD did long before he and Payton started getting to know each other. I thought that was much worse than characters in the book seemed to think it was, and I really didn't like what it said about JD's character. It would have required quite a lot more awareness on his part to satisfy me. Also, I wasn't completely satisfied by the solution to their rivalry. I suppose it did feel like it was a happy ending for both of them, but it's yet another romance where the expected happens, and I'm tired of that.



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