Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 320 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Thirty-year-old Taylor Donovan is a hotshot trial attorney on the fast track for a partnership at a major Chicago law firm when she's sent to its Los Angeles branch to take charge of the trial for a thirty-million-dollar, class-action, sexual-harassment law suit. Taylor has nothing but scorn for womanizing males, because she recently broke her engagement to a handsome law professor she'd been in a five-year relationship with after catching him in flagrante delicto with one of his teaching assistants. Because of that trust-crushing experience, Taylor is the last woman in the world to be swayed by the manifold charms of the golden boy of Hollywood, Jason Andrews. The 38-year-old actor (who keeps his true age a secret from his fans) has been dubbed by the tabloids as the "Sexiest Man Alive." Unlike her secretary, and all the other secretaries in the LA law firm, Taylor is irritated, not thrilled, when a senior partner insists that Taylor personally coach Jason for his next big role in a legal thriller because she is their top litigator. Nothing she can say will change her boss's mind, and irritation turns to disgust when Taylor loses not one but two days in a row--days she desperately needs to finish up crucial work for her trial--waiting in vain for Jason to show up for the appointments his agent scheduled for Jason's legal coaching. When Jason finally does waltz into the courtroom at the tail end of the first day of Taylor's trial, presenting himself at his convenience and without an apology in sight, she puts him in his place with assertive wit--something he hasn't experienced in the 16 years of his reign as the guy everyone in Hollywood routinely sucks up to. Jason is shocked, but more fascinated than angry with this gorgeous, brainy woman who makes him smile while she jerks his chain.
Julie James has a background as an attorney from Chicago, and that life experience adds greatly to the authentic feel of the heroine as an attorney. All too frequently careers in romance novels are merely glossed over, and it is a welcome change to experience the career of both the heroine and the hero in this novel brought into the story as a crucial element of the plot, in a way that is always entertaining. There are just enough details to make every scene solid and real, never too many to make the pace slow. The pace, in fact, is brisk, making this a really fast read.
The author has also written screenplays, and this book has a highly visual plot that I can easily imagine as a terrific, romantic-comedy film.
I discovered this book through Amazon's recommendation because I had recently read (and immensely enjoyed) Janette Rallison's hilarious romantic comedy about a Hollywood hunk, Masquerade. This has turned out to be one of the best recommendations Amazon has ever made. Like Masquerade, the humor in this book comes primarily from the clever repartee between the heroine and hero. In both books, the classic journey of romance from distrust to trust is a hilariously rocky one.
I love romantic comedies like this one, where the hero and heroine begin as antagonists, and the Meet Cute is extremely well done.
This book has no overt sex scenes, but plenty of sexual chemistry. There is a quite a bit of swearing, but all of it contributes to the overall humor, and none of it is particularly crude or offensive.
I highly recommend this book without reservation, and I am definitely going to be searching out all of the author's other novels.