Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Just The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Title: Just The Sexiest Man Alive
Author: Julie James

Type: Contemporary Romance
Published: 2008


Nothing fazes Taylor Donovan. In the courtroom she never lets the opposition see her sweat. In her personal life, she never lets any man rattle her–not even her cheating ex-fiancé. So when she’s assigned to coach People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for his role in his next big legal thriller, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrob’s charms. Even if he is the Jason Andrews.

Jason Andrews is used to having women fall at his feet. When Taylor Donovan gives him the cold shoulder, he’s thrown for a loop. She’s unlike any other woman he’s ever met: uninterested in the limelight, seemingly immune to his advances, and shockingly capable of saying no to him. She’s the perfect challenge. And the more she rejects him, the more he begins to realize that she may just be his perfect match. . .

Why: Blogger buzz. Crazy positive blogger buzz, like:

"I loved this book," from Jessica.
"It was outstanding," from Holly.
"Damn delightful," from Carolyn Jean.
"This book was fun from beginning to end," from Dev.
"Extremely funny and romantic," from The Book Smugglers.
"Filled with snappy banter and sexual sparks," from Stacy.

Thoughts: I rarely get in on books when they are all the buzz. I simply add their titles to my TBR list and get to them later. In this case though, I found the book by accident--sooner rather than later. So, so glad I did. It definitely falls in the fucking fabulous category.

Fucking fabulous because James put dialogue at the wheel and left it there to drive the entire story. Without sacrificing character depth or story density. Intelligent and rich--in word and thought. But without pages of backstory or personality defense.

I've grown so weary of books weighted more by their characters' thoughts--about themselves in large part--than by their interactions with others. I read for the interaction--the romance, duh--and have little patience for lengthy passages wherein the author defends their characters' motivation by letting them prattle on, in their own heads, about how they can't allow themselves to love. It's unrealistic and lazy, IMO.

James bucks that trend entirely--giving us two self-assured individuals struggling more against the balances and choices they've set for their lives and the potential upset unexpected love presents. Realistic and tough to pull off without making either appear shallow or selfish. Particularly in their Hollywood setting. But James proves herself a talented character-smith when she allows Taylor and Jason to simply be themselves--flaws and all. And we like them. Unabashedly. Hell, we love them. Easily and without guilt.

Without guilt because both are smart; and both come by their wit naturally and honestly. Their connection--seemingly there before they even meet--is palpable. An understanding recognized between them, held close and privately shared amidst flashbulbs and twittering secretaries. And therein lies the second fucking fabulous. James manages to paint a quiet but searing romance against a busy and loud backdrop. It truly was as if these two shared a private joke from beginning to end--choosing to keep the true depth of their attraction to themselves; understanding somehow that it was not only too special to be true, but too special too risk.

The third fucking fabulous? James' respect for the romance reader. On top of the whole "shared with a glance" romance, she hits our sigh bones with just a few, well-placed and surprisingly poignant "he gets me" moments. Then arouses with only the barest glimpse of his desire to dominate--like in his insistence on always being the one to drive or his expectation that she will take his name. In all of this, James takes us back to the power of suggestion--sexy, emotional stuff. And not a formula or cliche in sight.

Fucking. Fabulous.


  1. I couldn't agree more - Fucking fabulous!

  2. "Fucking fabulous because James put dialogue at the wheel and left it there to drive the entire story. Without sacrificing character depth or story density."

    I love how you put this. I can never think of writerly things to say like that. It's so true!

    Now you MUST read PMP!

  3. It's completely fucking fabulous. And PMP is just as good, if not better. I loved them both to pieces. She's a rising star for sure.

  4. This one and another JJ on my bed side table. The reviews sound so great when I read them. When it comes to book choosing time I always end up with something else. Why is that I wonder?

  5. I rarely get in on books when they are all the buzz. I simply add their titles to my TBR list and get to them later.

    Yes, this describes me to a T! I always feel like I'm the last one to arrive at the party. Sigh* But hey, at least I get some great recommendations that way.

    I have this in the infamous TBR list. I'll get to it one day.

  6. "The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.

  7. Tracy, Jessica and Lori - Glad you chimed in on the "fucking fabulous", LOL. And yes! I am searching like mad for Practice Makes Perfect.

    Rosie and Jill - Trust all that you've heard. It's that good. Really!

    And M.L.Kiner...ummm, go away.

  8. Wow. Fucking fabulous review, that's what I say. Thank you so much for this, Jennifer!! I loved the whole review, but one line in particular really got me: "Their connection--seemingly there before they even meet--is palpable." I love that thought. Jason and Taylor were such fun characters to write-- it was great to write two people who were aware of their flaws, yet didn't particularly apologize for them. Glad they still came off lovable, though. Whew!

    If you do pick up Practice Makes Perfect, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you enjoy that one as well.

    Thanks again for this-- such a great way to start my day!


  9. Okay, well I see all these previous commenters have pointed out all my favorite parts of your review, which kicks my reviews ass in the use-of-swear words department, as well as numerous other depts.

    Anyway, great review! So true about the dialogue not only being snappy, but driving things.

  10. Wow! I'm always struck dumb by the presence of author celebrity here! :-) Thanks for commenting Julie--and thanks for such a fabulous read. I've absolutely no doubt I'll enjoy Practice Makes Perfect as much if not more.

    And thanks to you Carolyn Jean--yours was one of the reviews that put this title in my line of sight.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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