Monday, January 9, 2017

Rambling Thoughts: Overruled


by Emma Chase
audio book narrated by Jason Carpenter and Charlotte Penfield
Book 1 of The Legal Briefs

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

As a 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 and 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. S he doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.

But when Stanton, her "friend with mind-blowing benefits" begs 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.

First of all, this book already does something I have a hard time enjoying:  It employs the switching first person POV narration.  While I think it's great that we get to see both Stanton's and Sofia's side of things... couldn't we have just as easily done so in third person?  I'm NOT a fan of first person POV already, and it is rarely done well.  Then you make it a multiple first person and I tend to get lost.

Of course, being that I was listening to an audio book narrated by two people for each respective gender, it wasn't hard.  But there were times when I was expecting third person POV, for some reason, and got turned around and had to remind myself that this book is in first person.

Secondly, my opinions on this book were entirely conflicting.  Because while I had some issues with most of the book (more on that later), to be honest, the latter half of the book--especially those ending chapters--were actually pretty damn good.

Overruled is written well.  I'll give it that.  It's down-to-earth in a way that you can't question the sincerity of the characters; and I never felt the need to suspend disbelief for anything... except maybe how mature that little eleven year old girl is, but I adored little Presley Shaw, so I'm not complaining.  There's a lot of growth and development that happens in this book.

And while I'm used to reading romances that are either more balanced between our main couple--or leaning more towards the revelations and self-reflecting of the main female character--Overruled was definitely a book about Stanton Shaw.  And to be honest, from where the book starts, leading up to the where the book ends, it wasn't entirely bad.  I may not have liked a lot of things, but the changes and revelations you see in Stanton did pretty well to keep the story progressing.


For the first half of this book, I absolutely had a hard time NOT finding Stanton a little detestable--as many others might have said, this tool wants his cake and eat it, too.

Yes.  I know I'd just stated that Stanton's growth was actually done pretty well.  And, okay, my above statement might be a little harsh considering the circumstances between his relationships with Jenny and Sofia.  He and Jenny agreed to an open relationship where they can see other people, as long as they don't tell each other about it--which, to be honest, makes me cringe a little bit.  He and Sofia are friends with benefits, and have no plans for taking their relationship any further than sex.

But Stanton claims over and over again that Jenny is his life and he loves her and her alone.  Meanwhile, he hooks up with many other women over the years (as is mentioned in exposition) and doesn't seem too intent on committing to Jenny... even though he's adamant that Jenny is the love of his life and his heart belongs to her.

To be honest, I'd have an easier time believing this if he weren't having a friends with benefits relationship with another woman while claiming that Jenny is the love of his life.  Call me traditional, or old-fashioned, or whatever, but if you already have that "One True Love," then what the heck are you doing having sex with someone else?  How is that even possible?  Why not just commit to Jenny and insist on an exclusive relationship?

I could probably understand if Stanton and Jenny were also just friends with benefits, and then he realizes that he loves her when she announces her marriage to someone else... maybe.  I can even forgive him during his younger, college years where you're allowed to make lots of mistakes until you figure yourself out.

But now that we're all adults here, wouldn't Stanton have an idea who he wants to be with for the rest of his life?  And once decided, shouldn't he NOT be sleeping with other women?  I mean, even after Jenny's wedding announcement and his big melt down and his desperate plea for Sofia to help him get Jenny to reconsider her wedding... he STILL goes and seduces Sofia like it's perfectly normal for a man in love with one woman to be having sex with yet another woman.

Which I suppose, in reality, and depending on who you are, IS probably normal.  Unfortunately, it's not something that sits well with me.

It also doesn't help his case that, while he's red with rage over Jenny's marrying someone else, he's also displaying neanderthal-like jealousies towards any man who even looks at Sofia.  He also gets upset if Sofia even expresses any kind of verbal attraction towards another man.  Then he turns around and all but "you're not Jenny, you're nothing like Jenny" at Sofia, which really, really makes me cringe.

Dude.  This isn't historical China.  And neither are you Mormon.  You can't have both women.  Pick one.  You're just being a jackass--a greedy jackass.  Which brings me to the conclusion that, for a top notch defense lawyer, Stanton Shaw is not very bright.  Because why on earth would you enlist the help of the woman you're sleeping with to help you woo back the girl you claim you're in love with?  I'm not even sure if soap operas could get more dysfunctional than this...

Or have I just read too many Happily Ever After™ Category Romances and am caught up in that fictionally rose-colored world?  Truth be told, that's probably what it is, because I know that real life romance isn't as pitch perfect as fiction makes it out to be (I'm witness to a lot of instances with friends and family in real life, after all)--and that's why I like romance in fiction, and could care less about romance in real life.

But as a fictional romance book, Overruled, why are you letting me down?

But all that aside... And stepping down from my soap box... Because, yes, this is fiction and there's no point in getting frustrated with someone else's product...

Overruled is very fun and enjoyable.  In fact, I love the partnership/friendship between Stanton and Sofia.  I find Stanton, as an individual, a bit arrogant and kind of a douchebag--but I suppose he IS a lawyer after all (and he's no Julie James attorney... >.<), so the arrogance isn't unexpected.  I loved the chemistry and the banter between Stanton and Sofia, because these two truly are great together.

But I just can't really get over Stanton's relationship conflict and how he's so frustrating about what he wants.  I suppose this is how a New Adult book typically works?  Is this why I don't read New Adult?  There is just way too much more romantic angst and conflict than I've read in a lot of other contemporary romances, unless I'm being biases (which I probably am).

On an end note:
To be honest, as I'd already stated above, this book was fun and enjoyable and written well.  And if all the Stanton pining after Jenny thing wasn't so drawn out, I feel like the book might have read a little easier and I wouldn't dislike the dumbass so much.  But overall, I liked the concept, the side characters, the setting... I loved Sofia, though I feel like she kind of got cheated of character development or any other kind of significance except to be a part of Stanton's character growth.

If I'm to continue this series, I suppose it would be because Emma Chase's writing style is surprisingly addictive, and because I am curious about some of the side characters and what may happen for them in future books.


I am considering this book for the 'New Adult' square for Romance Bingo 2017, but may end up changing my mind depending on other books I will read.

Other squares this book may count for:
  • "Headless" Woman -- Though technically there is a man and a woman, neither have heads on the cover.
  • Blown Away -- This one might be a stretch, but there is a tornado involved in one of the ending parts of the book.
  • Wedding Bells -- Our main couple is rushing to stop a wedding.
  • Interracial Couple -- Stanton Shaw is a pure southern white boy, while Sofia Santos's family is Portuguese.

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