REVIEW: A Man of Privilege by Sarah M. AndersonSaturday, August 4, 2012 1:00
I spend more time than I should defending my love of category romance – to just about everybody. Colleagues, friends, other romance readers, sigh. It gets tiresome. Sometimes it’s just easier to pick up a category that defies the stereotypes and throw it at their heads. Hard. Maybe weight it down with a few rocks just so it will hurt more. A Man of Privilege, the second book in Anderson’s Lawyers In Love trilogy, is a category that bristles against the stereotypes. For that reason, I love it – even though parts of the execution didn’t always work for me.
James Carlson exists because of his parents’ ambitions. Both of them movers and shakers in Washington D.C. power and politics, James has spent his whole life being groomed to one day be President. No lie. Much to their dismay, he takes a job with the Justice Department, which lands him in a backwater of South Dakota. James is a really good lawyer though, and knows that doing the type of work that he’s doing for Justice can catapult him to the next level. The next prize in his sights? Bringing down a corrupt judge – and for that he needs Maggie Eagle Heart.
Maggie is a former junkie and prostitute. After hitting bottom, she cleans herself up (with the help of a fairy godmother figure), adopts a new last name, and starts her own business. She has put the past behind her – a past that includes a corrupt judge who demanded “favors” from her in exchange for keeping her out of jail. James is close to putting the scumbag away, but he wants an “insurance policy.” James may have never lost a case, but he’s not about to waltz into the lion’s den without an ace up his sleeve – and that ace is Maggie. However, what neither of them counted on was the sizzling attraction between them, which really complicates issues. Besides violating every ethical code James can think of – there’s the small matter that a blue-blood, polished white boy with political ambitions probably shouldn’t fall in love with former junkie-hooker Indian girl. You know, assuming he wants those ambitions to turn into reality.
Even when you go looking around in the perceived “grown-up” world of single-title contemporaries, there’s not exactly a bushel of heroines like Maggie out there in Romance Novel Land. Her past isn’t even remotely pretty. She spent her entire young adulthood strung out, turning tricks, being used as a punching bag by a “boyfriend,” and then when she gets hauled before the same judge, time and again, she keeps “getting off” because he demands that she “get him off” in exchange. There’s no way to pretty that up. At all.
James might be so polished he squeaks, but he’s a genuinely nice guy. He sees people for who they really are, not as pawns for what they can do for him. Like Maggie, he’s a survivor. Oh sure, he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, but his parents are blue-blooded piranhas. If not for the kindness of a few people in his life (his nanny, a baseball coach, etc.) he might have grown up to be a total narcissist.
That said, for a lot of this story I feel like the author is just scratching the surface. A lot of that is because the Desire line has a pretty small word count (books clock in at less than 200 pages), and Maggie’s past is just begging for more exploration. For some readers this may be fine. It’s a very ugly past, and dwelling on it could make for unpleasant reading. But I love gritty and ugly, especially in romance because it tends to make the happy ending that much more satisfying. Given the word count, that’s just not an option here. The ending also feels a little rushed. I felt the conflict was resolved well, but between Maggie’s past, the seriousness of the legal case, plus the romance – the ending feels a bit like a sledgehammer crashing down on my skull.
That said, I really enjoyed this story – despite wishing the entire time that Anderson had a contract with the longer Harlequin SuperRomance line. James is Alpha while still being a nice guy, and he doesn’t sweep the ethical ramifications of his attraction to Maggie aside like it’s no big deal. Maggie is equal parts jaded, wounded, and innocent. The chemistry and tension of the romantic couple is excellent and the conflict is involved and believable. I didn’t have a go-to author in the Desire line, but now with two books by Anderson under my reading belt? I do.
Blue-blooded lawyer James Carlson is working on the case of his life. After winning this trial, his career will be set. He won’t let anything…or anyone…alter his course. Then he meets his witness.
Maggie Eagle Heart makes him question everything—his family, his goals, his future. Because she’s the one woman he wants, and she’s the one woman who is completely off-limits. Yet even as he struggles to keep their relationship all about business, he can’t deny the attraction is mutual—and irresistible.
James has always done what is expected of him…until now.
Other books in this series: