Series: The Legal Briefs #1
Published by Gallery Books on April 28th 2015
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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 was 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 ten-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.
I’m a huge fan of Emma Chase’s Tangled series. There’s no love quite like your first love though so I approached Overruled with a combination of excitement and trepidation. I’m pleased to say I read it in one sitting so Emma Chase FTW! If you’re sensitive to themes of infidelity however, this might not be the book for you since cheating is involved – only not really. Let me break it down for you.
Young love is strong. First love is powerful. But what you don’t know when you’re young—what you can’t know—is how long life actually is. And the only dependable thing about it, besides death and taxes, is change.
The story begins when Stanton Shaw is a high school senior in a small Mississippi town. His high school sweetheart and best friend since third grade, Jenny Monroe, becomes pregnant unexpectedly. He wants to marry her; however, Jenny doesn’t want to hold him back so she urges him to go to Columbia University, become a hotshot lawyer, and be in a better position to provide for their family. She chooses to stay home, earn her nursing degree, and take care of their daughter with the help of her parents. When Stanton leaves for college Jenny decides she wants them to have an open relationship whenever he’s away; she knows what they have is special. He reluctantly agrees but eventually gets used to the advantages of their agreement.
Fast-forward ten years. Stanton is now an up-and-coming Washington, D.C. defense attorney. Jenny still lives in Mississippi with their daughter and the two of them co-parent. Stanton is still in love with Jenny but they aren’t married. Although they get together whenever his schedule allows him to return home, they continue to see other people when they are apart. Essentially, Stanton gets to have his cake and eat it too.
Sophia Santos is a successful attorney who works with Stanton and is also on the partner track. She and Stanton are really good friends with benefits – super hot, mind-blowing benefits – and since neither has time for a relationship their arrangement suits them both. Sophia’s feelings for Stanton may be getting stronger than she’d like to admit but she’s certain she can stay focused on her career and keep things in perspective.
We all know what happens when we play with matches—but I will not get burned… I’m fireproof.
Stanton’s life seems pretty perfect until Jenny decides to get married – to someone who isn’t him. Another man marrying his woman and raising his daughter was never part of the plan. He decides go to Mississippi and fight for the woman he loves. He begs Sophia to go with him for moral support and to provide a female perspective. He gives a convincing closing argument and, risking her heart, she agrees. A hot-headed attorney, his sophisticated lover, his country girl baby mama, her fiancée, a gun-toting granny, and a wedding day countdown. Sounds like a Jerry Springer episode. What could possibly go wrong?
The thing I like about Emma Chase is that she writes the male POV so convincingly and with a very distinctive voice. It’s fresh, humorous, and touching. She also has a knack for taking heroes who, for all intents and purposes, should be unlikeable and somehow making them seem attractive. Yes, Stanton is arrogant, selfish, and kind of an asshole at times but he is always honest with others and himself and that makes him appealing. The fact that he’s sexy as hell doesn’t hurt either.
There comes a time in every man’s life when he takes a good, long look at himself and admits he’s been an asshole. A self-centered prick. I don’t know if it’s the same for women, but if you’ve got a dick, it’s inevitable. Because even good men, brave men, world leaders, renowned scientists, theologians, and Rhodes scholars have a greedy, selfish space inside them. A childish, needy black hole that will never be satiated. Look at me, listen to me, it says. It wants what it can’t have, as well as all the things it can. It wants to eat all the fucking cakes. It knows the world doesn’t revolve around us, but that doesn’t stop it from trying to defy the laws of physics and make it that way.
Sophia is unapologetically ambitious. She’s smart, confident, sexually empowered, and she’s running with the big boys in a male-dominated field. Which is why I had a hard time understanding why she ceded her desires to Stanton’s happiness so often. She’s way too smart to allow herself to be a doormat.
What I loved about the book, however, is the unexpected way in which many conflicts are resolved. Stanton and Sophia don’t blow into town under the guise of being engaged themselves or some other convoluted plot devise a lesser author might employ. Although I clearly wanted Stanton and Sophia to wind up together, Jenny isn’t made to be a villain which would have been the easy choice.
Bonus: If you’ve read the Tangled series and are in need of a Drew Evans fix you are in luck. He makes a couple appearances in this book.
There’s an epilogue, which I appreciate, and I hate to sound greedy but this one feels incomplete. Despite my objections (pun intended) I enjoyed Overruled and am looking forward to the next book in the series.