Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sidebar by Carsen Taite

Judge Camille Avery, newly appointed to the federal court, is finally back on her dream career path. She’s determined not to let any mistakes, past or future, get in her way, but a complex murder case and undeniable attraction to her rebellious law clerk threaten Camille’s carefully planned future at every turn.

Attorney West Fallon is a social justice crusader, reluctant to put her career plans on hold to clerk for a federal judge, even if the judge is the man who saved her life. When he’s suddenly forced to retire, West is stuck clerking for Judge Camille Avery, an infuriatingly stubborn—okay, brilliant, intense, and sexy—law-and-order jurist who seems just as unhappy to be saddled with her.

As Camille and West explore their growing desire and challenge the boundaries of their work and personal relationships, a big case threatens to destroy both their careers. Can their love survive?

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I really enjoyed the legal detail in this courtroom drama. The impact of judicial decisions on cases is fascinating. The two women in this story are also interesting. Federal judge Camille and newly qualified lawyer West are at different places in their careers and I enjoyed learning about both jobs.

While I really liked both Camille and West, I struggled to invest in their relationship. Both women are crafted as clever, driven, and inherently good characters. Pursuing a sordid office affair hurts both of their moral authority and makes Camille just as bad as the corrupt individuals and institutions she rails against. How does she fairly evaluate or choose between her two clerks when she is snogging one of them? And while West isn’t a typical victim, her career is beholden to Camille and she is bound by the older woman’s professional decisions without recourse. The relationship left a bad taste in my mouth. I did like the emotional and mental connection between Camille and West but I didn’t feel any real physical chemistry between West and Camille. However, I will admit that my reaction to the judge/clerk relationship tainted my response to their personal relationship.

There is a suspense element to this story that didn’t completely work for me. Camille starts receiving threats quite early in this book but the storyline isn’t followed up very consistently. Some clues are a bit too obvious but I’m not sure readers are ever given enough information to figure everything out for ourselves.

I’m conflicted about this story. I love the strong women and I enjoyed the legal drama but if Camille were a male judge, this would be a story about workplace sexual harassment and abuse of power. It wouldn’t be a romance.

3.5 Stars

Judge Camille Avery is newly appointed to the federal bench. Having nothing but respect for the shoes she is filling, she agrees to keep the law clerk the judge whose seat she is taking was going to hire, West Fallon. West and Camille have a small "moment" before they realize that Camille will be West's boss. The attraction between them is something that is being hard to ignore. Camille has been so driven in her career, relationships were the least of her worries. West feels that she should be working to help people and using her law degree instead of clerking for a judge. West and Camille are complete opposites and maybe that’s what draws them toward each other. The chemistry is palpable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the attraction and chemistry between West and Camille until about 85-87%, then it went downhill for me. The ending felt a bit rushed, but I did enjoy the overall story.

This is a first read from this author. I do intend on looking for more law and/or judicial based stories.

This is the first book I have read by Ms. Taite, but it won't be the last. This is a very rich story, both legally and romantically.

It could be that this story could skirt along a dangerous path, as one lead has significantly more control of the situation than the other. However, it is made very clear at all times that West is doing the clerk job due to a promise, and is at least as invested in the connection she feels as Camille is. This evens the field considerably – and at times I would argue that West is in the driving seat. This makes the nascent office romance much more exciting and alluring.

The way that we are given information feels just like the reveals in a courtroom, peeling away the layers, until we get a really good view of these two women and their lives and careers. Add in the delicious tension whenever they are together, and this makes for a very enjoyable read. The legal issue that is to be heard in Camille's court and the double dealing going on in the background form a wonderful backdrop for the romance, which is on a super slow burn.

Thank you, Ms. Taite, for a fresh look at the danger and promise of a workplace romance.

Carsen Taite’s goal as an author is to spin tales with plotlines as interesting as the cases she encountered in her career as a criminal defense lawyer. She is the award-winning author of numerous novels of romance and romantic intrigue, including the Luca Bennett Bounty Hunter series and the Lone Star Law series.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Sidebar by Carsen Taite to read and review.

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