Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta
The Particulars: Legal Thriller (with romantic elements), Book #1 in Anna Curtis series, 2010, In Print
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I failed to catalog this one, but I suspect I picked it up at the RWA conference in Anaheim in 2012. Reading a friend's GoodReads review, the author was there, and since it was a local conference for me, I basically took any book that wasn't tied down. I'm a mystery/suspense reader from way back, hence why this one has survived various TBR purges over the last couple of years.
Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence
The Review: I've been slogging through romance, of late, but it's an affliction that hasn't hit my mystery/suspense reading. Partly because I have very warm, squishy nostalgic feelings for that genre (it's the genre that made me fall in love with reading) but also in a world on fire the very real promise that the bad guy will be caught, and justice served, hits my sweet spot. Case in point, this book. Oh, there are issues - but they didn't keep me from inhaling this 400 page book in one day.
Anna Curtis is a fresh-out-of-law-school Assistant US Attorney pulling duty in the Domestic Violence Paper Room. An assignment that is crap on a good day, let alone the day after Valentine's Day when domestic violence cases surge. After getting a particularly foul cup of cafeteria coffee she heads back to her office where she catches Laprea Johnson's case. Laprea is basically bleeding all over one of her crappy office chairs, having just taken a beating from D'marco Davis, father of her children (fraternal twins). Laprea is determined to press charges and the case hits Anna close to home. She's determined to help the young woman. The fly in the ointment? D'marco's attorney is Nick Wagner, a former law school acquaintance who Anna coincidentally ran into at the court house just moments before. The attraction is immediate, with Nick asking her out on a date. Then they find out they're going to be working a case on opposite sides of the aisle.
What happens next is what sadly happens in a lot of domestic violence cases. Laprea changes her story, D'marco walks, and a couple of months later? Laprea is dead. D'marco is the obvious prime suspect. However, by this point, Anna and Nick are in a full-fledged love affair. When she finds out he plans to continue being D'marco's lawyer? Yeah, that puts an end to that. Next thing she knows, because of her knowledge of the previous case, she's assigned to work with Jack Bailey, the top homicide prosecutor in the city. He's none to thrilled to have a rookie with zero homicide trial experience dogging his heels but the boss says she's in, so now he's got Anna as his second chair.
Naturally though, things aren't as they seem - and further complicated by the fact that Anna, who has obviously never watched a single Law & Order episode in her life, fails to disclose her previous romantic relationship with the defense counsel. Yeah, that's going to come back to bite her in the ass later.
And that would be the main issue I have with this book - Anna is young, green, fresh out of law school, and makes some bone-headed decisions over the course of the story. But I could roll with it because her instincts are mostly good and Leotta writes the hell out of this story. It's firmly third person, but the author shifts character points-of-view to keep the proceedings lively and the pages turning. Which is no small matter given that I pretty much had this mystery unraveled fairly early on as the author tips her hand way too early with those point-of-view shifts.
Leotta lays out the challenges of prosecuting domestic violence in a compelling (and depressingly) realistic manner, structures a good sense of place around D.C. (I felt like I was THERE), and features a nicely diverse cast of law enforcement characters (there's an equal mix of white and black lawyers and cops). No, it's not perfect - but it's an example of a book finding me in the right mood, at the right time. I'll be reading the next book in the series.
Final Grade = B-