by Emma Chase
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Emma Chase, New York Times best-selling author of the Tangled series, returns with the first installment of the Legal Briefs series! A Washington, DC, defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don't call him the Jury Charmer for nothing - with his Southern drawl, disarming smile, and captivating green eyes, he's a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him, and women want to be thoroughly cross-examined by him. Stanton's a man with a plan. And for a while life is going according to that plan. Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart, the mother of his beloved 10-year-old daughter. Jenny is getting married - to someone who isn't him. That's definitely not part of the plan. Sofia Santos is a city-raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn't have time for relationships or distractions. But when Stanton, her "friend with mind-blowing benefits", begs her for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him to The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Mississippi, to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves. Her head tells her she's crazy... and her heart says something else entirely. What happens when you mix a one-stop-light town, two professional arguers, a homecoming queen, four big brothers, some Jimmy Dean sausage, and a gun-toting Nana? The Bourbon flows, passions rise, and even the best-laid plans get overruled by the desires of the heart.
Stars Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4
AudioBook Review: Stars Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4
As I said before, going in I knew this was going to be a wild ride: Emma Chase writes her male characters with a varying degree of misogynistic attitude and maturity, and she seemed to heap all of that frustration on Stanton. Qualities that make him a solidly successful defense attorney don’t work in the real world, at least not without consequences.
In high school, Stanton and Jenny were an item, and then she got pregnant. Unwilling to use that pregnancy to ‘trap’ Stanton in their small Mississippi town, she made it easy for him to move on, go to school and start a career. In the ten years since that time, Stanton has visited his family back home, but it has been nebulous and untethered, he prefers the fast track and the fast women who occupy it.
Sofia is a litigator in the office with Stanton: good at her job and driven, and their friends with benefits situation is one she is fully on board with. But. She is spoiled, entitled and a bit too full of herself for my taste. Sure, she is smart, and good at her job: but she and Stanton have taken a few too many pages out of the books of their clients: NOTHING is ever their fault, their problem or their responsibility. It is always a “situation that brought it on” or someone MADE them do it. Really? GAH
Fast forward to Jenny’s wedding (YAY JENNY) to a character that will be familiar to readers of Chase’s work. And Stanton completely loses his mind. Think three year old with 3 trucks and one friend who wants to play with the truck he abandoned in the corner. THAT sort of Lost His Ever Loving Mind. And Sophia isn’t far behind: not only did she accompany Stanton in his mission to STOP the wedding, but she was deluded enough (or clueless enough) to think that her feminine wiles would keep Stanton reasonable. Can you say doormat?
Through all of the moments – funny to gaspingly incredulous – I couldn’t walk away – there is something to these characters. Perhaps I want to see if they actually get it, or grow up, or find out just how wrong they have been, but even wanting to use a Whack A Mole mallet on Stanton and Sophia, I couldn’t look away.
Narration is provided by Jason Carpenter and Charlotte Penfield and these two portrayed each character beautifully. Carpenter captures that “star high school football player’ arrogance in Stanton’s tones, while Penfield gets Sophia and gives her plenty of vocal nuances that fit her perfectly, from uber-feminist I am woman, hear me roar to rather bratty spoilt child. The dialogue is fast paced and laden with humor, these two allowed for the laughs and moments of “I can’t believe you just said that” without losing pacing or momentum. Additional characters, accents and delivery were spot on, with just enough variation in tone, delivery and accent to present each character as a recognizable change.
Alternately funny, infuriating, sweet and moments that will leave you gasping this is a story perfect for when you want an escape, not necessarily into the lives of people who have it all together, but people who are so fabulously dysfunctional that you will wonder how they make things work at all.
I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Simon Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.