Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

As a now admitted Austenite who will chase just about any story that has a "Jane Austen" or Pride and Prejudice twist, I was intrigued during a Twitter conversation when Tasha (@heidenkind) at "Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books" asked me if I'd read Just the Sexiest Man Alive. When she told me it had a modern connection to Pride and Prejudice, I went out and purchased a copy. Yes, I had to read it. Well, in the midst of a pile of TBR books, ARCs, and grading, I forgot about it until I heard Angie at "Angieville" mention the same connection and how good it was. Between the two recommendations, from two awesome readers, how could I not drop everything and read?

This past Saturday I was suffering from a migraine, but it was a strange migraine in that I could sit in low light and read (I know...not good on the eyes) as long as I didn't have any extra noise or light. So, I grabbed my Kindle and decided to dive right into Julie James' novel that I had heard so much about, and was sucked right in! In one sitting (minus checking on basketball scores), I tore through the book, relating to a character that I seemingly have nothing in common. Maybe that is part of its charm?

Synopsis: Main character, and lawyer, Taylor Donovan has been sent out from Chicago to L.A. to lead in a defense against a sexual harassment case. As an undefeated lawyer, Taylor knows how to prepare for a case and how to question a witness, and is ready to move from a member of the firm, to partner. Because of this fierce attitude and drive, Taylor is quickly chosen to help one of Hollywood's most famous actors (and Sexiest Man Alive), Jason Andrews, learn the ins and outs of being a lawyer for his next big film. Taylor is less than happy with the set up, and is even less happy when her newest client blows her off, wasting her precious time. Not only does Taylor blow off Jason once he does show up, but also tries to get out of working with him. As in most romance novels, this lack of instant appeal intrigues Jason, and creates the instant tension in the story. Taylor has no time for pretty-boy Hollywood stars, and Jason underestimated the female lawyer who was to be his trainer. Somehow, the two would have to work together, because Jason won't take no for an answer, and neither would the law office Taylor works for.

Review: I'll spare you the extended storyline, as I think the set up of the base tension between these characters can be mapped out in a pretty broad way and shown to connect to a much-loved Elizabeth and Darcy storyline from over a century ago. While not the most believable plot at times, nor the most well-tuned writing, I did find that the dialogue and banter between Taylor and Jason to be highly entertaining...and to be quite honest, exactly what I needed right now. The connection to Pride and Prejudice is very loose, and doesn't really distract you away from the story in any way, although there are these delicious moments when lines pop up from the original that have you connecting the characters more than you would have otherwise.

One such scene that draws from the original story is when Jason asks Taylor to help him make his script more like an actual in-court scene. After completing their work, Taylor affirms that she believes it will connect with the audience, and the conversation continues:
"You just sounded so Hollywood."
Taylor smiled guiltily. "I did, didn't I? See--one evening with you and I'm already corrupted." She gestured casually to her half-empty glass. "Or maybe the wine's affecting me."
"So you approve of my selection?"
"I doubt there's anyone who wouldn't"...
"But your approval is harder to earn and therefore worth more than the others," Jason returned.
In a way, the vulnerability of the Darcy character really plays out in this modern context, and although you want to blow it off, it brings out the weakness in a way that I hadn't thought of in the original.

Also, Jason seems to keep trying to get Taylor to admit to her feelings, or to see where she stands and how she likes his home,
"So you like being here, then?" "...So you would consider this then, as a place you could live? You wouldn't miss Chicago?"
Both scenes made me smile at their brashness to cross Austen's path so closely. To a purist, this would be offensive, but I have to say that I liked the entire ride. I thought that the mix between the two was not enough to really offend, so I was all on board. Also, it seemed that for a romance novel, there was very little sexual content. In fact, the author handled the tension between the two characters in a pretty restrained way, that actually added to their chemistry. In this case, I really think that less was more, and created a fun, escapist read that kept my attention. I really enjoyed my time with this first novel by Julie James and will have to give her others a go!

For more information, see: Just the Sexiest Man Alive.

*Novel purchased as an e-book.

This counts as my first in the E-book Reading Challenge over at Royal Reviews!


  1. I agree with your review %100! I had trouble getting into the book in the first fifty pages, but once Taylor and Jason started interacting, it just became really fun and I didn't want to put it down. I also thought the chemistry between Jason and Taylor was totally believable and their relationship grew very organically.

    I'm so happy you enjoyed it! ^__^

  2. I have this on my Kindle and will read it in the next few weeks. I loved your review! Hope you're feeling well.

  3. *grin* I'm glad you liked it. Definitely give PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT a try then. It's delicious. :)

  4. I keep reading great things about Julie James; I really have to read some of her books. This sounds like something that would put me in a good mood!