Saturday, March 21, 2009

Laughter Reviews #24

Julie James

Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Workaholic lawyer must educate actor on courtroom etiquette for sake of career.

Partial view of a couple facing each other in a casual, happy pose. The fact that the man is wearing a shirt and jacket instead of only his chest shot this reader's goodwill way up before she had even read word one.

What Works
Much of the sparkle of this debut story comes from the way the heroine fails to meet the hero's expectations of female fan adoration. Time and again, she gets in the last word in a discussion and walks away from him, something he as an extremely successful and good-looking actor can't fathom. In the beginning his reaction to her is based on pride, slowly colored by increasing genuine emotion. The story has a bit of a feel of classic, black-and-white movies with a lot of verbal sparring between the protagonists; it is not surprising to learn that the author began as a screenwriting hopeful. Apprentice Writer defies readers not to run through ideal casting choices for each character as they pop up in the story.

What Doesn't
The author is very fond of the suffix 'ly'. The top page count came in at ten or so - and the fact that there was a count at all says something about the distraction the writing quirk posed for this reader.

AW's second quibble stems from her status as chronic, unrepentant armchair traveller whose wallet-challengedness forces her to live vicariously through novel characters' journeys to distant places. In this case, Los Angeles - which, sadly, the reader gets to see little of. Let AW be clear: This made complete and total sense for the story, given the heroine's 'all work, all the time' personality and the hero's need to evade paparazzi. But AW, reading this story while trapped in the much-snow-involving chill of Canadian winter, selfishly yearned to be transported to balmy breezes and gentle sun. Maybe the author can take a page from the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn notebook and include a bonus chapter about, oh, say, a honeymoon, on her website?

Finally, the character who came closest to being a villain sort of dropped off the radar. Imagining that he might turn up in a sequel, AW thinks this may not be a bad thing.

A bright star on the contemporary horizon. AW promises herself great enjoyment from the freshly released follow-up, 'Practice Makes Perfect', also peopled with lawyers taken from the author's pre-novelist working life. What is it with legal professionals who transform into scribes? There seem to be so, so many of them.

But does it make you laugh? YES
The buzz delivered as promised. JTSMA is a fun, battle-of-the-sexes romp that can easily be pictured as a date-night movie.

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