In Her Defense by Julianna Keyes
Book Two of the Time Served series
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: September 7, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Back in February, I read and LOVED Time Served, book one of this series. It's one of my few five-star-rated novels for 2015 so far, and one of my favorites. Rachel and Dean's story was agonizing and heartbreaking and lovely. Caitlin Dufresne was a very important character in the story, and to be honest, I HATED her. So when I saw that Julianna Keyes had written a companion novel to Time Served in Caitlin's point-of-view, I was, well, wary. Still, I really enjoyed Time Served, so I put aside my doubts, and jumped at the chance to read this one early. No regrets!
Caitlin Dufresne is Chicago's most successful lawyer, in her early thirties, and one of the most attractive. She works all the time, late into the night, early in the morning. When her bosses stiff-arm her into taking a mandatory vacation, Caitlin is furious. She has no interests outside of work. When the IT guy of the firm, Eli Grant, stumbles on her in a bar the evening of her forced mandatory vacation, sparks fly, and Caitlin and Eli find themselves very attracted to each other. Steamy weeks follow, and Caitlin is slowly finding out that she doesn't have to be made of only work work work. She finds that she can't walk away from Eli, and will soon have to decide what is worth more of the effort - Eli, or her work.
Caitlin is so different from Rachel (the protagonist of Time Served). Rachel does not make any cameo appearances in this book. In Time Served, we find Caitlin to be a cold. heartless, cruel woman who seems to be sleeping with everyone in the firm. She made me so angry in that book. But as I've gotten into her head, I can understand her so much better. She wasn't sleeping with everyone to get power or promotions, she dated men, they broke up, like any relationship. Caitlin is cold and heartless, but she isn't made of stone. While she appears to be a marble sort of perfect, she isn't.
I found that I actually really liked her. She is a fighter, a dedicated worker, and she never gives up, even when she isn't familiar with something or doesn't like it. Her attraction to Eli is instant and surprising, and she doesn't want to stop seeing him after that one time, despite the fact that he isn't her usual type. I like that Caitlin is honest and straightforward, and goes after what she wants.
I really, really like Eli, especially in the beginning. He is also honest and straightforward, and goes after what he wants. He knows Caitlin's reputation, yet he stills want to get to know her, in more than one way. He pushes their relationship to new levels, and helps Caitlin feel comfortable with many things she wasn't previously comfortable with doing. Towards the end, there is a lot of miscommunication between Caitlin and Eli, and I wanted shake them both, especially Eli. But he is such a good guy, and a hawt one, at that. Overgrown frat boy? I know the type. I wouldn't mind one, to be honest.
The chemistry between Eli and Caitlin is off the charts. Talk about steamy, right from when they meet each other. It's instant attraction, which leads to more. There are so many steamy scenes in this book, much like in Time Served. But unlike in Time Served, Caitlin and Eli didn't know each intimately previously (or at all), and have no history. I almost liked this more, because the romantic and sexual experiences between Eli and Caitlin were completely new. No history clogging their relationship. This book is so, so steamy, guys. This series, in general. Time Served and In Her Defense are both very sexy romance novels, that deliver on the sexy, and the romance.
And of course, their relationship is very tested and tried. It's physical at first, but then the pair start to care about each other. There are some minor jealousy moments on both sides, and some miscommunication. One assumes one thing, the other assumes another. But their relationship seemed like an authentic growing relationship, and I liked how developed it was.
This book goes through Caitlin's development of character very thoroughly. Caitlin doesn't know who she is if she isn't working. But the forced vacation allows her to explore areas of her life that she has not spent enough time exploring. She starts going to her niece's softball games. She goes to baseball games with Eli, and actually becomes a pretty big fan of baseball. She helps Eli remodel properties that he owns, which she doesn't love, but she likes doing it with and for him. Caitlin discovers a life outside of work, and a life with Eli.
The climax of the story surrounds Caitlin and Eli's relationship, as well as a case that Caitlin has been working on. While I found the case interesting, I was more interested in how Eli and Caitlin would resolve their relationship issues. The ending is very bittersweet up until the last few pages. I kind of like how the author dragged things out a bit, because it felt very real. The ending itself is very sweet and a good one! No need to worry about that. Keyes always delivers a happily ever after that will satisfy readers!
What I Did Not Like:
Nothing specifically that I didn't like! The author did an amazing job with this novel.
Would I Recommend It:
I would so very much recommend this novel! It's the companion to Time Served, but I personally recommend that you read Time Served before reading this one. Then you can hate Caitlin as much as I did at first, and then love her in this book. Seriously, I didn't think the author could do it well, but she really convinced me to love Caitlin in this book, despite loathing her in Time Served. This is a really great contemporary romance novel that is not cute and fluffy, but dirty and steamy and moving.
4 stars. More like 4.5 stars, if the world would let me rate books in half stars. This novel was an excellent companion novel, and such a fulfilling adult contemporary romance! If I want my romance fix, I know Keyes is the right author to look up! I am definitely excited to read more from her in the future, related to this series or not!
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