Practice Makes Perfect, by Julie James

Practice Makes Perfect, by Julie James is one of those breezy, banter-y contemporary romances about a smart woman trading barbs with a borderline chauvinist man’s man, and the sexual tension therein. So, basically, it’s like reading a Rachel Gibson book…except that I’d actually recommend you read a Gibson book instead!

James has a decent set-up and dialogue that does make you laugh out loud, but from a technical standpoint, I found Practice Makes Perfect to be sloppy writing. I kept getting distracted by James’ complete lack of consistency, by her shifts in language use and tone, and the short-cuts she took during various moments that might have needed description. She really needed a better editor to sit her down and say, “Hey, pick a style and stick with it.” It’s like there were three different narrative voices…one of which, by the way, was Yoda’s: “Eight years it had been since they had moved into their respective offices…”

The contentious relationship between dueling lawyers Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson hearkens back to Elizabeth and Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — and referencing the book actually provides one of the book’s best scenes — but, again, obviously, Austen did it better than James. The reader is supposed to empathize with Payton, whose mother is an ex-hippie activist, and her constant resentment of J.D., who comes from money. I’m sorry, what? The woman’s name is “Payton Kendall,” which is about as WASP-y as you can get, and she can afford Jimmy Choos and $80 brunches because she makes a six-figure salary as an associate at her firm. I am not going to buy her anti-elitism when she makes six-figures. Not to mention that she’s never heard of Tolstoy and doesn’t know what’s in a Tom Collins. I couldn’t figure out why I was supposed to root for her. That’s not to say I rooted for J.D. He was your average contemporary Alpha hero, and his name kept reminding me of J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker’s boss at the Daily Bugle!

It’s a cute book, but I got nothing out of reading it except a few chuckles — and I really wish I hadn’t spent money on it. Perhaps James and her book editor should’ve taken a tip from her book’s title: a little more practice would’ve been perfect.

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