I first came to know of “Just the Sexiest Man Alive”, last year when Ms. James was doing promotional blog tours and interviews. Ms. James presents extremely well, has a wonderful sense of humor and seems a genuinely nice person. Her description of the novel and the synopsis piqued my interest. Since I didn’t win it (not for lack of trying) I ordered it in and there it sat in my TBR until recently when I started reading all the rave reviews of her second novel, “Practice Makes Perfect”. So, needless to say I decided it was time to pull "Just the Sexiest Man Alive", out of the “alps”.
This story is a contemporary romance, there is no graphic sex. However there is intense foreplay, which comes in the form of verbal sparring between the heroine and hero, I have to say the erotic sex I’ve become accustomed to in the majority of my romance reading these days wasn’t missed in the least. The narrative is extremely fast paced and the dialogue, which drips sarcasm, had me hooting with laughter. Just as an aside, I like to read in bed on Saturday morning sipping a coffee with Tori sleeping in the crook of my arm. I started laughing so hard at a couple of the exchanges between Taylor Donovan, the heroine of the novel and Jason Andrews that I spewed coffee all over the duvet luckily it’s washable. (The spew missed my pooch of course.)
Just the Sexiest Man Alive
Chicago litigation lawyer Taylor Donovan has been sent to Los Angeles to defend a company being brought to trial on charges of workplace sexual harassment. It is a very important case for the firm. Taylor is brilliant, driven, a total professional who has never lost a case, and mapped out her career and climb to a partnership within two years. The other thing about Taylor Donovan is she loves her job, she thrives during the thrust and spar verbal dynamic of the courtroom. She also knows how to be diplomatic when the occasion warrants it, cool, calm and collected. The best way to describe Taylor? A weapon…
Taylor has a history of being jilted by her womanizing ex fiancée Daniel Lawry, who she finds in a, shall we say, compromising position with his 22 year old teaching assistant. She doesn’t wallow in self-pity at finding Daniel cheating on her. She calls off the impending nuptials, has drinks with her best friends. And, because there is, “no crying in baseball”, she picks herself up and moves on, her career being her total focus. When she comes home one evening to 2-dozen red roses from said ex fiancée I was worried that she would decide to call the jerk. However, Ms. James surprised me and when Taylor takes the flowers and does something very innovative with them, I LOVED her.
Jason Andrews is drop dead gorgeous and Hollywood’s biggest superstar, as in huge! He is beyond rich, has the world at his feet and is a known womanizer. Jason also has an ego the size of Mount Rushmore to go along with his good looks and fame. No one says no to Jason Andrews and he has an entourage who take care of his career down to the smallest detail.
Jason has a staring role in a courtroom drama that is about to begin shooting. As part of the preparation for the role it is decided he needs to spend time with a lawyer who is experienced in litigation. The senior partner at the Los Angeles law firm where Taylor works is contacted. When Taylor is called into the office of her superior and given the assignment of coaching Jason Andrews for his movie, she is nearly driven to a state of apoplexy. However, she realizes regardless of the fact that this is a critical time in preparing for the sexual harassment case she is defending, she has no choice but to acquiesce to her boss’ request. So an appointment is arranged and Taylor’s calendar is cleared for an entire day so she can “coach” the “Sexiest Man Alive”.
On the day that Jason Andrews is to attend the law office to meet with Taylor, the whole place is abuzz waiting his arrival, however he never shows. His assistant calls late in the day and states there was a mix up but he would be there the following day. Of course the following day he doesn’t show up either. By late afternoon Taylor packs up and heads out of the office, more than annoyed. Monday morning comes and she watches the news while getting ready for work and the entertainment piece comes on. Low and behold, there is a beautiful smiling Jason Andrews caught on camera during a junket to Los Vegas when he was supposed to have met with her. To say Taylor is frothing at the mouth would be an understatement. She heads to court ready to crack heads.
Ms. James was a lawyer and it is evident she knows how they think and present in the courtroom. As Taylor Donovan argues the case to the judge to prohibit some parts of testimony a reader is given a wonderful opportunity to watch her in action. The courtroom dialogue (although my knowledge is extremely limited) seems authentic and Taylor is amazing. I felt like I knew this character by page 30.
Unknown to her, his highness, himself, Jason Andrews slips into the courtroom and sits in the back while she is arguing their position. When the arguments are completed and the judge dismisses the lawyers, Jason approaches her. After he attempts to charm her and gets nowhere, “Mr. Andrews”, asks Taylor to show him something “lawerly”?
I along with Taylor had a great deal of difficulty liking Jason at the beginning of the book. While yes he was a drop dead gorgeous movie star, his arrogance was repugnant. However, our Taylor verbally annihilates Jason during their first meeting by putting him on the stand and through intense questioning has him admitting to his little foray to Vegas. It is brilliant!
When Taylor, turns on her heel and leaves Jason sitting on the stand by himself stunned he decides that she is a woman of interest, or at the very least a challenge. This is when things really get FUN!
Here is an example of the wonderful narrative and dialogue in, “Just the Sexiest Man Alive”. After Taylor leaves Jason in the courtroom, he calls his connection to her law firm who speaks to her boss who summarily orders her to make amends and coach his highness. Needless to say, Taylor is fit to be tied, she is not impressed with his fame or wealth, but mind you he is nice to look at. lol
“And so here she was five hours later, sitting in her car parked on some random street in West Hollywood. Taylor peered through her windshield to get a better look at the bar, and wondered what kind of name Reilly’s Tavern was for a hot celebrity hangout. She rechecked the address on the Post-it-note Linda had handed her to make sure she was at the right place.
Taylor tapped her fingers nervously on the steering wheel. The thought of crawling back to Jason Andrews was just so humiliating. It infuriated her that, due to his “status” (which she doubted was the product of little more than sheer looks and being in the right place at the right time), people automatically gave him such deference – that with one snap of his fingers, she was expected to smile politely and apologize to him.
Hopefully Jason Andrews knows the Heimlich, Taylor thought to herself. Because she most definitely was going to choke on her words.
Realizing she couldn’t sit in front of the bar all night, she got out of her car and strode briskly in her heels to the front door of Reilly’s tavern. A quick peek in the window told her that she’d been very wrong – the bar by no means was any sort of hot celebrity hangout.
As Taylor opened the door and stepped in, she felt as though she’d been transported back to the south side of Chicago, back to one of her father’s off-duty cop hangouts. Decked out in aging mahogany wood, Reilly’s Tavern was part sports bar, part Irish pub—complete with dartboards, pool tables, and two small televisions (both showing the same basketball game) mounted over the bar. The after-work crowd consisted almost entirely of middle-aged men, many still in their service or government uniforms.
Definitely the type of crowd who wouldn’t notice a celebrity in their bar, Taylor thought, and probably wouldn’t care even if they did. Maybe that was the point.
She stood hesitantly in the doorway, scanning the faces of the men seated at the bar, who in turn stared right back at her. Clearly, womenfolk didn’t often frequent this particular establishment. And just when Taylor thought she couldn’t possibly have felt more self-conscious, she heard a feigned loud gasp and a voice call out her name with delight.
She turned and saw Jason Andrews near a pool table in the back. He walked over to her, pretending to be shocked.
“Why, imagine seeing you here!”
At the sight of his smug, victorious look, Taylor staggered back a few steps and fell against the door. Oh god, she couldn’t do it.
Feeling a little woozy at the thought of continuing, she closed her eyes and silently said a few oms from her yoga class for serenity.
With his arms folded expectantly across his chest – he did indeed know what was coming—Jason’s grin grew wider as he watched Taylor’s reaction to his greeting. This girl seriously cracked him up. At the nauseated look on her face, he half expected her to turn around and walk right out the door without one further word.
But instead, she took a deep breath. Jason watched as she pulled herself up to what he guessed had to be no more than her full five-feet-five height and strode efficiently over.
“Don’t be coy, Mr. Andrews,” she said in that all-business tone of hers. “I know your assistant told you I was coming.”
Jason’s eyes widened innocently. At the way she’d walked over all snappy-heels, he couldn’t resist hamming it up.
“You were looking for me? Whatever can I do for you, Ms. Donovan?”
Taylor stood there, staring evilly at Jason as if she wanted nothing more right then than to grab him by his cashmere zip pullover and zip it right up to his eyebrows.
But then she took another deep breath.
“It seems I may have been a bit…hasty when I walked out of the courtroom the other day,” she told him. “My firm would very much like to work with you on your...little project.”
He ignored her not-so-subtle dig at his film. “And You?”
She responded matter-of-factly to this. “I’m willing to put my personal preferences on the matter aside.”
Jason gazed down at her. She really wasn’t affected by him at all.”
“Just the Sexiest Man Alive” © Julie James
LOL! And this story is full of scenes like this. IMHO, it is wonderful however I have to admit I enjoyed Taylor’s sarcastic wit and she ALWAYS gets the last word. And Jason, he cannot believe that this woman isn't falling into bed with him.
As the story progresses and Taylor is forced to spend more time with Jason both come to respect one another. Jason’s character is laid bare with respect to the pressures of constantly being in the limelight and Taylor does take him down a few pegs. Jason is forced to take a look at his past relationships with women and realizes he doesn’t have a lot to be proud of. When he commits some genuine acts of kindness and a reader learns more about him through his close friend Jeremy I grew to like Jason. However, Taylor is unable to trust him enough to enter into a relationship and I had to empathize with Jason. His sense of frustration and loss was quite heartbreaking.
Ms. James also wrote a wonderful group of supporting characters into the story and gives us a glimpse inside the mechanization's of Hollywood and how the next contender for the “Sexiest Man Alive”, is in the wings waiting to make their move.
The subplot of courtroom drama surrounding the sexual harassment case is interesting and the final scene dynamic.
I want to say more about the scene where Taylor and Jason finally do get together, because it is simply awesome! However I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who may choose to read this story. I will say when these two finally do make it to the bedroom it is a “fadeout” scene, but sexy nonetheless, and as with the rest of the story, fun and very well told!
As I was reading “Just the Sexiest Man Alive”, I felt as if I was watching Taylor and Jason's story on a movie screen. It was that good.
Needless to say, this book has definitely found it’s way to my keeper shelf and I will read it again. I am currently enjoying “Practice Makes Perfect”, and hope to finish and review it soon.