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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

So last night I did something I haven't done in a long time. (Well, since the Read-a-Thon, but that doesn't count!) I read an entire book in one sitting. Ok, I read the first 30 pages earlier in the day, but close to one sitting. It wasn't a book on the list, it wasn't something Janssen made me read, and it wasn't from the library. It was a romance novel- Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James (blog). When I left for work yesterday I threw it in my bag because it was on the top of the stack I have just gotten in from Paperbackswap. The opening chapters had promise, but weren't great, but when I sat down after the Bug went to bed it hooked me. Shortly after midnight (!!) I finished the book and went to bed happy.

So what's the book about? Payton and JD are lawyers in a big Chicago law firm. They have been rivals for the entire 8 years that they have worked together and they both work hard. They are up for partner in a few short weeks and have both been working under the assumption that they will both make it. However, weeks before the announcement the firm decides they will only promote one of them. To make matters worse, they have been assigned to work together on a big public case. Now they have to figure out how to outwit each other, keep their job, and deal with the fact that they are slowly starting to realize how they really feel.

The short review: I loved it. Great tension, great dialogue (after the opening few chapters), terrific homage to Pride and Prejudice.

The long version: After a slow start, James really gets into the groove and turns out a great book. The dialogue is witty, the main characters are both terrific. It's full of humor, almost veering into slapstick at one point, but stopping before it's ridiculous. Payton and JD consider sabotaging each other in their quest to win, but do the adult thing and don't, which I loved. I think if they have gotten nasty in the quest to be partner that I would have put the book down. It is very much about two people coming to realize their true feelings.

There is a good bit of tension between them but only one sex scene, and it's not at all graphic. In fact, despite the clear heat between them, all you really "see" is some kissing. Very well done, for those who don't like it to get graphic. There is a bit of swearing, but it didn't seem overboard at all.

I picked up this book because of reviews at Babbling about Books, and More and The Book Smugglers (love this line from her review, "reading Practice Makes Perfect is akin to watching one of the best Ally McBeal’s episodes but with Joss Whedon’s dialogue.") I just re-read those reviews, and I skimmed all the reviews at Amazon and I can't believe that every one of them missed the VERY BEST PART of the book- it's a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Maybe it's not intentional, but it IS. Some of the reviews mention that it references P&P, and it does, but no one clues in to the fact that JD is Mr. Darcy. Payton isn't looking for a husband, but she is witty and smart. The banter, the dialogue, the hating each other until they don't. JD is too proud to tell her how he feels. There is a misunderstanding. There is a big gesture. The entire structure is there. It is beautifully done- it wasn't until the actual P&P reference that it all clicked for me. Even the ending mirrors it, and it's perfect. This is what pushed the book over from "good book" to "excellent." There is a great interview with the Julie James here and she doesn't mention this- I can't believe that it isn't intentional. If you're at all interested in the book, check out the interview for some snippets of the dialogue, she choose some great moments.

The final verdict: If you're a fan of contemporary romance pick this one up, you won't be disappointed. I'll be looking for her first book- Just the Sexiest Man Alive.

Aside to Julie James: when do we get Tyler's story?

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James



304 pages


  1. Glad you enjoyed The Book Smugglers and my review of this book. Just the Sexiest Man Alive is also a cute read, but Practice Makes Perfect had me in laughter. The trial scene where Payton shows everyone what's under her skirt is one of the most memorable scenes I have read this year.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the great review! So... the cat's out of the bag, huh? Yes, with this book, and my first one as well, there are certainly some similarities to the dynamic between the characters in Pride & Prejudice (which happens to be my favorite book, BTW). Intentionally so, as you suspected. ;-)

    As for Tyler's story... I actually was just thinking about that yesterday. He's a contender for Book 4, but I haven't decided yet. I do think I could have a lot of fun with his character, and the way he *thinks* he knows so much about women.

    Glad you enjoyed the book!!


  3. Julie, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to hear I wasn't totally imagining things, after I posted my review I started to worry that it was all in my head.

    I'd love to see Tyler's story, he definately thinks he knows what he'd talking about!

  4. Holy crap, must read this immediately. I love a good modern romance.


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