Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

Title: Practice Makes Perfect
Author: Julie James

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: March 3, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 0425226743
ISBN-13: 9780425226742

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.

My rating:

Whew. I finally got around to reading this. And now that I’m done, I’m really, really sorry for not reading it sooner. Damn! Maybe it wasn’t as “funny” (I mean the LOL moments) as Just the Sexiest Man Alive, but it was still one of the best contemporary romances / romantic comedies I’ve read in last few years.

I loved Payton and J.D., and their mutual antics. Very kindergarten, if-he-pulls-your-braids-it-means-he-really-really-likes-you, extremely childish at times, somewhat over the top at moments (the coffee on suit and the heel incident), but still, you could feel the underlying (sexual) tension between these two. And the banter, the banter, when they managed to burry the proverbial axe for a few moments, was absolutely fantastic.

“Why don’t you look around this firm sometime—everyone here is just like you, J.D. White with a penis.”

Not being in the law field, I sometimes puzzled over the partner-race the two were in, I admit to not understanding the importance of it all, but it provided both the comedic angle and some pretty good insight into the psyches of our hero and heroine.
He was a rich-boy, asshole with slightly chauvinistic tendencies, she was a prissy, feminist vegetarian, and for some reason they worked. Worked splendidly in war-mode, worked splendidly in truce-mode, worked splendidly (together) in work-mode, and worked splendidly in “amorous”-mode. I just loved these two to bits.
Along with the rest of the supporting cast, from her quirky mother, to his filthy-rich parents, their two best friends, her secretary, and the major client. This motley crew of characters clicked perfectly, bringing all the necessary nuances to the story. Wonderfully done.

Speaking of the motley crew cast of characters. J.D.’s best friend and an anonymous cab driver provided my absolute favorite scene in the book with the Pride and Prejudice reference and apropos tea discussion.

show/hide spoiler
“Does our fair Ms. Kendall truly loathe the arrogant Mr. Jameson as she so ardently proclaims, or is it all just a charade to cover more amorous feelings for a man she reluctantly admires?”
Up front, the cabdriver snorted loudly. He appeared to be enjoying the show.

“Psych 101 again?” J.D. asked.

Tyler shook his head. “Lit 305: Eighteenth-Century Women’s Fiction.” He caught J.D.’s look and quickly defended himself. “What? I took it because of the girls in the class. Anyway, I see a bit of a P and P dynamic going on between you and Payton.”

J.D. didn’t think he wanted to know. Really. But he asked anyway. “P and P?

Tyler shot him a look, appalled. “Uh, hello—Pride and Prejudice?” His tone said only a cretin wouldn’t know this.

“Oh right, P and P,” J.D. said. “You know, Tyler, you might want to pick up your balls—I think they just fell right off when you said that.”

Up front, the cabdriver let out a good snicker.

Tyler shook his head. “Laugh if you want, but let me tell you something: women go crazy for that book. And even crazier for men who have read it. If I plan to bring a girl back to my place, I might just so happen to leave a copy of it sitting out on my coffee table and, let’s just say, hijinks frequently ensue. And you know what? It’s not a bad bit of storytelling. I like to put on a nice pot of Earl Grey tea, maybe a slice of almond biscotti, and—yeah, that’s fine, keep right on laughing, buddy, but I bet I’ve gotten laid more recently than you.”

“Hey—not that I’m not thoroughly amused at the thought of your little tea cozy and you wrapped up in a blanket reading your book—”

“I didn’t say there was a blanket.” Tyler paused. “Fine. Sometimes there may be a blanket.”

“—but my question is, were you going anywhere with this, or is it just some sort of weird sharing moment?”

Tyler had to think. “Where was I going with this . . . ?” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, yeah—Pride and Prejudice. Women and the whole Darcy complex. For Payton, that’s you.”

“I thought Darcy was the asshole.”

Tyler smiled fondly. “You know, he really kind of is.”

“Great pep talk, Tyler. Thanks.”

“But he doesn’t stay the asshole,” Tyler said. “See, you just don’t understand women the way I do, J.D. They want it all: a career, apple martinis, financial independence, great shoes; but at the same time—and this they’ll never admit— they are drawn to patriarchal men who are dominant and controlling. That’s the essence of the Darcy complex. He may be an asshole, but he’s an asshole that gets the girl in the end.”

J.D. rolled his eyes. This entire conversation was just so ridiculous. But still.

“And how does he accomplish that?” he asked.

“Oh, it gets a little complicated,” Tyler said. “See, Lizzie has this troublesome younger sister who runs off with the guy she originally thought she liked—wait, back up—to really understand, I should start with the visit to Pemberley, because it actually starts with the aunt and uncle, see—her uncle loves to fish and Darcy asks—”

J.D. held up his hand, very, very sorry he asked. “The short version please. We’re already at your stop.”

Tyler looked out the window and saw that the cab had indeed pulled up in front of his building. He turned back to J.D. “Okay. The short version, the very short version: he gets the girl by being nice to her.”

J.D. waited. “That’s it? He’s nice to her? That’s so . . .lame.”

“Look, if you want to win Payton over—”

J.D. stopped him right there. “Hey, we’re only speaking in hypotheticals, okay? I haven’t decided that I want to win anyone over.”

“Oh. Then my advice is that you should start there. Figure out what you want.” With that, Tyler got out of the cab and darted through the rain into his building.

Great. Thanks for the help. J.D. gave the cabdriver his address. He stared out the window as the taxi made its way the six blocks to his building. When they arrived, J.D. reached through the divider and handed the cabdriver a twenty and told him to keep the change.

The driver turned around. “Hey—your friend back there was giving you some pretty strange advice.” Around fortyish and wearing a ragged flannel shirt and a Sox cap that had seen far better days, the guy had one of the thickest Chicago accents J.D. had ever heard. “He seemed a little off the wall, if you know what I mean. I don’t think I’d listen to him if I were you.”

J.D. grinned. “I’ll take that under advisement.” He opened the door to the cab and stepped out.

“Because everybody knows that Darcy doesn’t win Lizzie over just by being nice.”

J.D. stopped. He looked back over his shoulder.

The driver rested his arm on the divider. His rolled-up sleeve revealed a tattoo of a black scorpion that covered his entire forearm. “See, it’s all about the Grand Gesture. That’s how you get the girl.”

“Thank you,” J.D. managed to say.

The driver shrugged. “No problem. Frankly, it sounded like you could use all the help you can get.”

He put the cab into gear.

“And listen—tell your friend to try English Breakfast next time. It’s a little more robust. Earl Grey is really more of a Sense and Sensibility kind of tea.”


It’s the scenes like these, the amazing characterization, the general comedic feel, and all-in-all good plots that I love about Julie James' books.

Now I really have to read the next two.


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