Another page from my backlist for today: Emma Chase’s The Legal Briefs series. In my review of the Romancing Manhattan series, I mentioned that I got caught into a spiral of legal romances after All it Takes – and this is what I was talking about. The Legal Briefs series was definitely a surprise and let me tell you what I thought of each book in this series that I absolutely adored:
Overruled (The Legal Briefs, #1)
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. She 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. (via Goodreads)
Young love is strong. First love is powerful. But what you don’t know when you’re young—what you can’t know—is how long life actually is. And the only dependable thing about it, besides death and taxes, is change.
I fully expected that the first book in The Legal Briefs series is gonna be mediocre at best (judging by the reviews I read) but I decided to still push through with it because I wanted to get the full experience. Overruled introduced us to Stanton Shaw and his gang of fellow defense attorneys in Washinton D.C. The story started off with Jenny (his childhood sweetheart) getting pregnant, a couple of time skips showing Stanton going to college, Presley’s first birthday – all the way through the present where Stanton is a successful lawyer working in DC. Until one day, he received an invitation that Jenny is getting married to someone that is not him.
This was decent but was just ruined by the constant cluelessness and self-centeredness of Stanton. He reminds me of those unnecessarily possessive main guys in most NA novels that romanticize toxic masculinity unconsciously. I still don’t understand the logic of bringing home a female colleague when you are convincing your “ex” not to get married. It can be a bitter pill to swallow, yes, but is not something that Stanton has the right to stop especially since they have an agreement to see other people in the first place. I love Sophia though, even though I feel like her character could use a bit more context and fleshing out through the story. And then there was a really heartwarming closure by the end on all fronts. If anything, this just made me pretty psyched up about the next books because one of the best things about this is the Washington D.C. action (and I liked Stanton much better when he was in DC) along with the dynamics between the group of friends. And we had a lot of that in the next two books, Sustained and Appealed.
Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2)
When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.
Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.
Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I’m going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal’s office.
Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.
And that — that, I know how to do. (via Goodreads)
A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.
Lo and behold, my favorite book in The Legal Briefs series. Sustained is one of the best rom-coms I’ve read this year and probably all time! I finished it in the middle of a workday. I feel like I’ve professed my love for this series and Sustained in particular just about anywhere: discord servers, book twitter, bookstagram; I even recommended it to my sister! If that doesn’t tell you that much about it, I don’t know what will? 😂
Sustained is the second book in this series which focused on Jake Becker – the resident bad boy of the gang and badass DC defense attorney (well, who in this group of friends is not anyway?). It tells the story of non-nonsense Jake meeting Chelsea and the McQuiad brood – which somehow turned his world upside down. The blurb looks charming on paper but reading it (or, better yet, listening to it) was a different experience altogether. This book just straight-up made me so happy. I don’t like children normally but, apparently, I love reading about them if they are as adorable as the McQuiad kids. Add the narration which was pretty spot on. I don’t normally pay that much attention to who narrates my audiobooks but Sebastian York (a.k.a., Jake Becker) was such a delight. (Sebastian York cursing in an audiobook = one for the books 💯)
I know I’m super late to the party but if you haven’t yet, drop everything and read Emma Chase’s Sustained. It’s the perfect balance of romantic, hilarious, and spiciness. It has found family with adorable, adorable kids. Aside from the romance, it also deals with other kinds of love, reinvention of self, and also emphasizes the importance of having a mentor in your life: someone who believes in you. It’s all these different layers that really made this book so much more. It involves a lot of familiar tropes but the right combination, pacing, and writing took this book to another level. It was so worth it enduring the mediocre first book, Overruled. Looking back, I know that Sustained totally solidified that itch for me to read Emma Chase’s books.
Appealed (The Legal Briefs, #3)
When Brent Mason looks at Kennedy Randolph, he doesn’t see the awkward, sweet girl who grew up next door. He sees a self-assured, stunning woman…who wants to crush the most intimate – and prized – parts of his anatomy beneath the heels of her Christian Louboutins.
Brent has never let the loss of his leg in a childhood accident affect his ability to lead a fulfilling life. He sets high goals–and then he reaches them.
And now he has his sights set on Kennedy.
When Kennedy looks at Brent Mason, all she sees is the selfish, Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-worthy teenager who humiliated her in high school to join the popular crowd. A crowd that made those years a living hell.
She’s not a lovesick social outcast anymore – she’s a DC prosecutor with a long winning streak behind her. Brent is the opposing attorney in her next case and she thinks it’s time to put him through a little hell of his own.
But things aren’t exactly working out that way.
Because every fiery exchange has her wondering if he’s as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom. Each argument and objection only makes him want her more. In the end, Brent and Kennedy may just find themselves in love…or in contempt of court. (via Goodreads)
“The ride is the only thing that makes the fall worth it.
Appealed is the third main book of The Legal Briefs series and centers around Brent Mason – who I found really interesting even as early as the first book. He is a good-natured fellow with a slapping sense of humor and I really enjoyed reading his POV chapters a lot. Brent has been in an accident that led to the loss of his leg during his childhood but I loved that this book didn’t really make him a guy that wallows in self-pity, as is usual in books with circumstances like this. Instead, he is confident, enjoys his life, and owns his success. I also loved the emphasis on the benefits of therapy in this book and how Brent has used it wisely to navigate his complicated emotions before and after Kennedy appeared in his life again. Waldo was a great presence in this book and the small nuggets that he said as advice to Brent are things I’ve written down in my journal because of how helpful they were. Reading how Brent and Kennedy were bickering in the courtroom was also fun, especially during the early parts of the book. Brent has this uncanny ability to be both cool and child-like in his wonder and I absolutely loved it. Defense-prosecution romance (not nearly as intense as to call it enemies-to-lovers) has been a trope I never knew I needed and it was so fun. This was an easy read and there were also a lot of funny, laugh-out-loud moments – particularly because of Brent and Kennedy’s social circle. It was not really my favorite love story but there were moments that really shined still, mostly because of Brent’s personality. I was supposed to rate it 4.5 but it was bumped to a full 5-⭐ book because of that beautiful extended epilogue that tied the three books together so beautifully. I’m so in love with this series! 🥰
Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5)
There was a time when Jake Becker had it all together. He was controlled, driven, ruthless—in and out of the courtroom.
Then, six irresistible orphans and their heartbreakingly beautiful aunt crashed into his perfectly ordered life. They changed everything. They changed him. Now he’s a husband, an upstanding member of society, a father figure—a family man. And he’s pretty damn good at it.
Sure, he has to referee sibling smackdowns, re-learn algebra, ensure his clients stay out of jail, and keep his wife happy—but it finally feels like he’s got it together again….
So, of course something has to screw it all up. It’s huge. Life-changing. Kind of terrifying.
And it will be the most amazing, perfect thing he’ll ever do. (via Goodreads)
The only reason I really believe in my own goodness is because I see it reflected in her eyes.
I am fully aware that I rated Sidebarred 5 stars purely because of emotional and sentimental reasons – and I don’t care. Sidebarred is an extension of that indulgent Appealed epilogue. It mainly features Jake and Chealsea’s life post the 3 main books, with glimpses of the life of the other main couples in the series. What can I say? Just. Pure. Domestic. Bliss. ❤ It has a lot of time jumps that saw the McQuiad kids growing up and moving out. That last bit with Rory and Jake really made me tear up because it felt like everything came full circle. It really solidified this series as a believable and layered story as one of the most memorable romance series I’ve ever read; something I could always go back to anytime – and I’ll be happier for it.
This is a series but I think each book can definitely be read as a stand-alone (with the exception of Sidebarred). The familiar faces are a welcome touch though and it’s part of the reason why the whole story became much more enjoyable – so I still suggest to read this in order. And plus points if you read it through audio – because the narration in all the books adds another layer to the experience. This made me revisit Emma Chase books and after reading all the books in this series, she instantly became one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. Overall, The Legal Brief series is definitely recommended reading!
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Emma Chase writes contemporary romance filled with humor, heat and heart. Her stories are known for their clever banter, hilariously authentic male POVs and sexy, swoon-worthy moments. Emma’s novels have been translated into over twenty languages and published around the world.
Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two misbehaving dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.