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Book CoverShannon C.’s review of Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James
Contemporary romance released by Berkley 3 Mar 09

Originally, I hadn’t been particularly interested in reading this book. The phrase “feminist heroine” usually fills me with an unnameable dread. But after reading Jessica’s take on the gender politics and feminism in the book I decided I should read it myself since her review was very positive and I figured that if she liked the book, the chances of me hating it would go down. And I did enjoy this book. I haven’t quite embraced Julie James as the best thing to happen to the romance community since Nora Roberts, but I would definitely read her again.

This is a workplace romance between J.D. Jameson, a conservative, golf-playing member of his country club, and Payton Kendal, a vegetarian liberal feminist. Both are lawyers, and both have been in competition since they started working at their new firm. Both are hoping to make partner, and when their boss throws them together to help win an important client, they are forced to work together. At least until the decision comes down from on high that only one of them will, in fact, make partner.

I really liked both of these characters. Both Payton and JD seemed like real people you could actually meet and have a conversation with, and I thought that the ways in which they reacted to the world were realistically portrayed. I’m a sucker for witty banter, especially when it comes out of realistic characters, so I really enjoyed their interactions, and I enjoyed the build-up of their romance. I didn’t particularly even mind that Ms. James closed the bedroom door on the sex scenes. I also loved the way that both of them related to their friends.

The conflict played itself out in a way I liked. Though the book does feature its share of wacky hijinks, particularly when JD and Payton start playing pranks on each other, they were generally not distracting from the overall focus of the story. Even the obligatory dark moment, when Payton finds out about something JD did in the beginning of their relationship, worked for me.

What I didn’t particularly like–and this is kind of a minor nitpick but it irritated the crap out of me regardless–was that I felt that JD’s parents and Payton’s came out of Blatant Stereotype Central Casting. Payton’s mom is particularly obnoxious, and, sadly, she appears with alarming frequency in the story. Each time she showed up with her strident hippie-ness, I wanted to punch her in the face and/or stick some bacon in her mouth to shut her up.

If you haven’t yet read this book, you definitely should give it a try. It’s a great workplace comedy with some truly likeable leads. I definitely plan to check out Just the Sexiest Man Alive, Ms. James’ debut novel, and I’m hoping it’s just as good.

ShannonCGrade: B

Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson are lawyers who know the meaning of objection. A feminist to the bone, Payton has fought hard to succeed in a profession dominated by men. Born wealthy, privileged, and cocky, J.D. has fought hard to ignore her. Face to face, they’re perfectly civil. They have to be. For eight years they’ve kept a safe distance and tolerated each other as co-workers for one reason only: to make partner at the firm.
But all bets are off when they’re asked to join forces on a major case. At first apprehensive, they begin to appreciate each other’s dedication to the law—and the sparks between them quickly turn into attraction. But the increasingly hot connection doesn’t last long when they discover that only one of them will be named partner. Now it’s an all out war. And the battle between the sexes is bound to make these lawyers hot under the collar,
Read an excerpt.