by Elaine Overton, contemporary (2005)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-584-2
I think I can really get to enjoy Elaine Overton's books since she's all about unapologetically ambitious and strong-willed heroines. She has a tendency to use head-hopping in her writing to a dizzying rate, but the biggest problem however in Déjà Vu, her second romance novel for Arabesque, is that Ms Overton has the heroine for too long trying to resist getting back with the hero that for the most part the relationship is startlingly chemistry-free.
Victoria Proctor and Nicholas Wilcox aren't just ex-lovers, they are at the opposite sides in the courtroom. She's a prosecutor and he defends anyone who can afford him. They broke up eight years ago when they ended up on opposite sides in a particular case and Victoria had had enough of what she viewed as Nicholas selling his services to even the devil himself if the check is good. Well, this time around they find themselves quarreling in a courtroom - are lawyers allowed to behave like this in court? - so that isn't something new. What is new this time around, however, is that Nicholas is moving to Chicago, where Victoria lives, and he wants to get things right second time around with Victoria. However, the current client who he is defending may provide some complications.
While I really appreciate the fact that neither Victoria nor Nicholas were completely right or wrong when it comes to their break-up the first time around, I find Déjà Vu a more interesting as a story of lawyers doing their thing who happen to be in love with each other. The romance aspect is the weakest in this story. The problem here is that Ms Overton tells rather than shows me what Victoria is feeling, so I am constantly told that Victoria doesn't want to get back with Nicholas but she is at the same time attracted to her. The relationship takes on a familiar tango of he reeling her into his arms and she trying hard to keep a distance between them once she sobers up. Both characters are generally likable sorts and I like how Victoria is depicted as a "goody-goody" lawyer who manages to behave sensibly and think rationally when it comes to her job without getting too overemotional in the process. Both Victoria and Nicholas don't generate much chemistry together since she's more intent on getting away from him for the most part of the story.
Ms Overton on the other hand has created some pretty interesting subplots about the cases that the main characters have to deal with. The secondary characters, be they the good guys or the bad guys, are all pretty fascinating and I especially like how the author doesn't make things easy for herself. There are no clear "right" or "wrong" solutions when it comes to these subplots.
As a result, Déjà Vu is a pretty entertaining lawyer drama, although it fares less favorably as a romance.
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