Stacy's Place on Earth
Blog Home Change to Small Font Change to Large Font
Tuesday, April 07, 2009:
"Practice Makes Perfect" by Julie James (2009) - review


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 . . .

It's already been said and done by better reviewers than me, but I couldn't go without saying how much I adored Julie James' 2nd romance, Practice Makes Perfect. This book is the kind of contemporary that I think has been missing out there for awhile. It fairly crackles with the lively verbal exchanges and simmering sexual tension, the kind that creeps up on you until you don't care when or how it happens, you just want these two characters to rip each other's clothes off and work out their frustrations in the most basic way, which I'm thinking should take a good week, without cellphones and Blackberrys and laptops. Just Payton and J.D., a flat surface and years worth of catching up to do.

I wouldn't categorize the conversations that Payton and J.D. have as witty banter because that implies a playfulness, and frankly that is not the way these two relate to each other. There's some hostility, a lot of impatience and eye-rolling moments, but not any kind of fondness, at least not anything obvious. What I enjoyed is that they both give as good as they get in return, and once again I'm pleased with a heroine that does not come across as defensive or flustered but instead very smart, poised and more than capable of dishing it out without having to resort to crying or yelling. Yet as tough as Payton is, you do see a softer, caring side to her. She loves her mother and makes time to spend with her, even though she drives Payton crazy, and she's close to her good friend Laney. She's not a man-hater and tries to make time to meet someone new. She wasn't weighed down with a boatload of issues, and this reader was breathing a huge sigh of relief to read about a heroine who's actually well-adjusted and normal. How refreshing.

I think the same thing can pretty much be said about J.D. as well. Good-looking, confident, damn good at his job and he knows it, he's also a guy who values his close friendships yet has his stupid "guy" moments that he ends up regretting. He comes from money but he lives his own life and goes about his career his own terms, without family handouts. He's earned the lifestyle he enjoys, and nothing makes him more proud than knowing he's wholly responsible for what he's achieved. Making partner would be the icing on his multi-layered cake. And if he can get the best of Payton in the process, well, all the better. He enjoys their skirmishes just a little too much, yet I think they keep him at the top of his game. She's no slouch when it comes to the law and he recognizes and respects that.

Something else I really liked about this book is that Julie didn't create a bunch of ooey-gooey mushy moments. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and in the proper forum I enjoy them just like I would a box of chocolates, but with these particular characters, it just wouldn't have felt right. That doesn't mean there weren't sigh-worthy moments of romance, because there were. One in particular made me just about fall out of my chair, and there wasn't even any sexin' going on at the time. It was just one of those instances that caught me a little off-guard because I wasn't quite expecting it to happen the way it did, but it ended up being just perfect. Timing can be everything.
I had such a blast reading this book, moreso than I've had while reading in a long time. It was one of those stories I really hated to see come to an end. I really wanted more glimpses into the lives of Payton and J.D., and I'd love to see where they are now. Wouldn't it be nice to think they are walking together down Michigan Avenue on a warm spring day, totally in love and all is right with the world, or is that just me?
Rating: ***** out of *****

Labels: ,


  1. Wonderful review, Stacy. I'm in the middle of reading PMP at the moment and agree that it's fresh. Julie captures so much energy and vibrancy with her words.

  2. Stacy:

    What a wonderful review! I have both Ms. James' books sitting at the top of my TBR and am so looking forward to the read. I just love the kind of verbal sparring you've described between the H&H in a contemporary romance. :)

    Thank you for sharing.

    Warm Regards

  3. How much fun was this book! I loved it and was completely entertained!

    And I loved that we got to the mackin' a little earlier than we did in Just the Sexiest Man Alive.

  4. I loved, loved, loved this book. Laugh out loud hilarious and adorable. Definitely in my top 5 for 2009.

    Kati: Mackin? LOL! I agree.

  5. I really enjoyed this book! And to think if J.D. hadn't misunderstood Payton's "superman" comment since the beginning they would've been together years ago! Yet again, they wouldn't be the people that they are today so it's all good in the end...

    I wonder what Julie has planned for us next! Have you heard any details?

  6. Thank you for the wonderful review, Stacy!! I'm so happy you enjoyed the book. And I loved your paragraph describing J.D.-- I think you captured him perfectly.

    I do see them strolling down Michigan Avenue, hand-in-hand, in love... and of course Payton is teasing J.D., thinking he wants to stop at Ralph Lauren, but instead he pulls her into Tiffany's... ;-)

    Kati, Katie, and Beth-- thanks!! And about the mackin' issue, I think you guys are going to like Book 3 even more on this issue... Not quite Beth's level, because she, after all, is the queen of steamy hotness, but I definitely kick it up several notches.

    Lea: hope you enjoy both books!

    Tabitha: glad you liked the Clark Kent confusion. I wanted it to be one of those things where men and women interpret something in completely opposite ways.

    As for what I'm working on now... this afternoon I'll be sending off Book 3 to my agent. I'm really excited about this one!! It's another contemporary romance, a comedy with a suspense subplot. It's about an FBI agent and an Assistant U.S. Attorney who team up when she inadvertently witnesses a high-profile murder. There's some bad history between them so they don't at all get along in the beginning... I think this may be the sexiest hero I've written (and you guys know how I love Jason and J.D.). He's more dark and brooding and intense and than my prior heroes and of course the heroine is the sarcastic, quippy-type and so the dynamic between them is a lot of fun. (I hope.)

    Yikes. Look at me, yammering away here... Thanks, again, Stacy! This made my day!!

  7. Excellent review, Stacy! Going now to toss a copy in my Amazon cart!

  8. OMG, Julie James was here! :D Thank you, your next book summary sounds so good. Can you negotiate with your agent for the 3rd book to be released at end of this a Christmas present to us?? :P

  9. Tabitha-- I would love to see Book 3 be released before the end of the year, although I think it's probably going to be next March. I'll post on my website as soon as I have a release date. Glad you liked the sound of it! : )

  10. Absolutely loved both books. Witty dialogue mixed in with some sweet, poignant moments, along with some kickass heroines (something I'm always missing these days). And I love that the heroes get so confused by the heroines, but in their own manly way.

  11. Stacy, that was a wonderful review! The insight into the characters... *SIGH* Am I the only person who hasn't read this book yet? I'm working on it...

  12. When I think of an author who can save the contemporary, I automatically think of Julie :D

  13. Beth, I was really jazzed reading this book, because it was so fun, so...alive. Just such an enjoyable reading experience.

    Lea, you need to get to Julie's books! The conversations are smart, funny and quick. And I totally love that the heroines in these books give just as good, or better, than the hero.

    Kati, I agree. The tension between J.D. & Payton desperately needed an outlet, and it was a relief *g* to see they took care of the problem before the last page.

    Kate, definitely in my top 5 as well. I had a ball reading it.

    Tabitha, I agree. Yes, they could have hooked up years ago, but I always figure things happen for a reason, and they needed to get to where they are now before they could really be together. That totally makes sense to me for it to happen the way it did. And you heard from Julie what she's up to. After meeting her and talking with her, she's got some really fascinating ideas for some stories, and I hope she gets the chance to tell them.

    Miss Julie, you are most welcome, and thank you for stopping by. I'm so anxious for book #3!!! It's part of the reason I waited so long to read PMP - because of the wait for the next one. But then again, I love to re-read...

    Laurie, you're gonna have to tell me what you think. I believe you'll really, really like it. Can't wait til you tell me I'm right *g*

    Lori, you & I are on the save wavelength. I agree with everything you said :)

    Orannia, think of it this way - at least you've got something to look forward to :)

    Kate: amen.

  14. I just loved this book to no end. Seriously my favorite contemp of the year so far. So glad you loved it too. You wrote a wonderful review, Stacy. :)

  15. I just got this in the mail! Happy!

  16. Great review, Stacy!! I just came from Lea's blog. She read the book and linked to your review! I have to get my hands on this one. It's been on my radar but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Post a Comment