Review: In Her Defense by Julianna Keyes

in-her-defenseIn Her Defense by Juliana Keyes
Series: Time Served #2

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Sep 15, 2015
Audiobook Narrated by Shirl Rae

Caitlin Dufresne has never loved anyone as much as she loves winning. A ruthless fifth-year associate at an elite Chicago law firm, she’s on the fast track to partner…until a stupid, serious error enrages her bosses. Caitlin’s continued refusal to share work—or credit—lands her a forced two-week vacation. She needs to regroup and learn to be part of a team, not just the star.

When she meets Eli Grant, head of the firm’s IT department, Caitlin knows the overgrown frat boy isn’t her type. But too much alcohol and a very public game of Truth or Dare turn into a dirty, breathless one-night stand. Which turns into a (mostly naked) two-week fling. Which turns into something that makes Caitlin incredibly nervous, despite the great sex.

Eli shows her the many upsides to sleeping in, and for the first time ever, Caitlin has more than the law waiting for her at home. But when she returns to the office and the relentless demands of a high-profile case, Caitlin must decide if winning this one is worth losing Eli forever.

D.G.’s Rating: 3.5 stars = B

I picked In Her Defense from the library without reading the first book in the series. (This was a conscious decision as the hero of the first book is an ex-con which is a real stretch for me.) Reading some reviews, I found out that Caitlin, the heroine here, was actually the villain of the first book. Not having read it, I didn’t know the extent of her villainy, but I was curious how Ms. Keyes would redeem her.

Soon enough I found out that Caitlin’s reputation was well deserved. She’s aggressive, cutthroat, ambitious, impatient, confident and simply the best at her job. The best part? Ms. Keyes didn’t make any excuses to justify or explain Caitlin’s personality. There wasn’t any kind of trauma in her life, that’s just the way she was. And I just loved that characterization. Why is it that women cannot be ball-busters in romance without some sort of ordeal involving their mommys or past boyfriends?

That doesn’t mean that Caitlin didn’t have some growing up to do in this book. In Her Defense is all about Caitlin and her growth. She doesn’t have any interests outside of work, no friends, no hobbies so she’s adrift when she’s told to take time off. At the beginning she’s furious and trying to work around it, which is the reason she meets Eli, expecting to steamroll him with her demands.  I laughed my ass off when he simply told her no. Even though this infuriated her, this made Caitlin take notice and actually respect the guy. When they next meet at a dingy bar, you also learned that he liked the way she was. He wasn’t intimidated by her and liked that she was a strong woman.

Little by little, as she spends more time with Eli, her niece and actually sleeps at night, Caitlin realizes that she needs a more balanced life. People hate her at the office (with reason) and it dawns on her that she can still be the best without working every single hour of the day and that there’s room for kindness and patience in her life. I loved how this was not fixed as if by magic, she really gets better but this is something that you know she needs to keep working on.

I really enjoy the mismatched couple trope – i.e. waitress with rock star – so I was loving the whole “star lawyer hooking up with IT guy” until I learned of his family. I thought this was a completely unnecessary twist. This was a guy who was the head of IT in a big law firm and who flipped houses on the side. Not saying he was making millions, but I’m sure he could afford a meal at an expensive restaurant now and then.

You would expect my issues with the book would stem from Caitlin but Eli was most of the problem. I really liked him at the beginning but he turns into a douchebag in the second half the book, lying to her for no reason, doing stupid shit and getting annoyed when she had to work late. She was an workaholic so this was definitely a problem but not something she could fix in a couple of weeks. I felt he should have understood her, specially since she told him how difficult it was for her to disconnect from her work sometimes.

This is the first audio I’ve listened narrated by Shirl Rae and I really liked her. She has really good male voices, which are pivotal for me in female narrators. That said, her children’s voices need some work. Caitlin’s 10-year old nice sounded like a teenager.

I loved the end of the book and how she didn’t give up everything for him. This is something that I hate in romance…if there’s a difficult choice to be made, it seems the women are always the ones who make it.

Overall, a really good sexy romance. I’ll definitely read the next one in the series!

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