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    A Heroine I’d Like To Be Friends With by Kati Dancy
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 26th, 2009

dancy111It really took me not even a moment to decide which romance heroine I’d chose for heroine’s week here at RNTV. When I think of romance heroines who I’d like to be friends with, or hang out with, one author comes to mind: Julie James. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I consider Julie to be a friend, but I read her books before I got to know her, so I can say honestly and without bias that her books are wonderful contemporaries — ones that I recommend over and over again.

So when it came time to choose a heroine, I chose Payton Kendall from Julie’s Practice Makes Perfect. From the first moment we meet Payton, we understand what makes her tick – competition and professional drive. Payton is an up-and-coming, very successful law Associate at one of Chicago’s largest and most successful firms. She is due to be named partner this year, that is, unless one JD Jameson gets in her way. She and JD are on the same track, they compete for just about everything, coming to dislike each other intensely because of the competition between them. When Payton and JD are told by their boss that they’ll have to join forces to land a huge client for the firm, they’re both outraged and challenged.  As they attempt to collaborate to land the client, they get to know each other better, and find that dislike they have for each other might just be something more.

Practice_JamesOK, so why do I like Payton so much? Frankly, she’s smart, she’s competitive, she’s not above playing dirty if she has to, but more than anything, she’s incredibly likeable. She and JD must go toe to toe over and over again as they try to land the client, but she never loses her poise, she keeps her sense of humor, even if she loses perspective some time. My favorite scene in the book comes as Payton is in court, trying a case. She and JD have been trading dirty tricks back and forth. In this case, JD has sliced most of the way through the heel of the shoes Payton is going to be wearing in court. At the time, he has no idea that she’ll be in court, and he does it in payback for Payton spilling coffee on this suit jacket just as he’s getting ready to try a case. Anyway, JD rushes over to court to see if he can’t get Payton’s attention while she’s trying the case to let her know what he’s done, so she won’t fall. Payton ends up breaking the heel and falling face first into the jury box. But that isn’t the worst of it:

Everyone was on their feet, stunned, watching as Payton quickly scrambled to pull herself to a stand, grappling, climbing past the jurors who sat in their box, mouths agape. And she managed to get to her feet, a little flustered but covering as she smoothed her skirt and –

“Sorry about that.” Payton smiled calmly at the jurors, regaining her cool. “Now where was I…”

She looked for the deposition transcript she had dropped, she turned around and –

–the entire audience in the galley cried out in shock.

Unbeknownst to Payton, when she had fallen her skirt – those damn slim-fit skirts she liked so much – had torn at the seam and now gaped open, and sweet Jesus, she was wearing a thong and two tiny white butt cheeks peeked out from between the folds of her skirt –

JD’s jaw nearly hit the floor.

Oh god, it was horrible, horrible – well, actually it wasn’t all that horrible for him, she had a really great ass – but for Payton, this was a train wreck, a disaster – […]

She stood up, her hand flew to her skirt, and she felt the rip in the seam. She instantly reacted; she unbuttoned her jacket and quickly tied it around her waist – no more peeky-cheeks – and JD heard a few groans of disappointment as the judge finally got things under control, banging his gavel and calling for order in the courtroom.

And as quickly as the chaos had erupted, things quieted back down. As people took their seats, the clamor settling, JD sat down too, hiding, thinking now definitely was not the time to be seen by Payton.

As silence took hold of the courtroom, all eyes were on Payton. Everyone waited to see what she would do, how she would react.

She paused for a moment. Then she turned and faced the jury.

“Raise your hand if you had no idea you’d see so much nudity in one week of jury duty.”

Twelve hands flew straight in the air.

And unbelievably, Payton laughed.

See? I say buy that girl a drink. Yes, JD is delicious (if devious), but for me, it is Payton Kendall that makes Practice Makes Perfect a successful romance. She’s exactly the kind of contemporary romance heroine I want to read about. She’s smart, resourceful, cool in a crisis, and clearly has a terrific sense of humor. I think that writing a credible contemporary romance heroine is one of the toughest orders out there. In the historical or paranormal genre, heroines can play slightly against type, but with contemporary romance, the reader is drawing immediate, known parallels between her everyday life and what is going on in the book.  It must be a huge challenge to create a heroine that is likeable, smart and is someone who the reader would want to hang out with. Julie James is successful on all fronts with Payton Kendall. If you haven’t picked up a Julie James book yet, I encourage you to do so. They’re worth the price of admission, that’s for sure!

Who are some of your favorite contemporary heroines? Have you read a Julie James book? If so, who is your favorite heroine?

20 Responses to “A Heroine I’d Like To Be Friends With by Kati Dancy”

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  1. Buffie
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 6:39 am

    Loved this book!

  2. Stacy ~
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 6:42 am

    Kati, you nailed it exactly. One of the things I just love about Julie’s heroines is that they are so very likeable, and not the type prone to hide behind resentment and silly behavior when going up against a sexy, charismatic man. Her heroines are incredibly intelligent and confident, and not one bit afraid to show it, and they are also the kind of women other women can be friends with as well.

    And having met Julie, I would say that she is a lot like her heroines – someone you can drink wine with and have some fun conversations 🙂

    Julie, last night @ B&N, Shannon, Nicola and I pimped your books out to one happy reader. She walked up to the register with both. It was a very satisfying moment.

  3. Dee
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 6:49 am

    I came up with two of my favorite contemporary heroines [which was really hard since I read paranormal and historical a little more frequently].

    The first is Jane from Rachel Gibson’s “See Jane Score”. She tries so hard to learn the ropes and earn the respect of the players, while trying to do the job as well as a man. She can be sarcastic and opinionated, but can be insecure about herself as a woman as well. The way she also took the hero’s orphaned sister under her wing was admirable.

    The second is Eve Lavon from Lori Foster “Causing Havoc”. She is also very confident and has the hero figured out from the first meeting. She also has the required sense of humor I like in a great heroine. The chemistry sizzled off the page and it was a fun take on the “hero is the brother of the best friend of the heroine” plot device.

  4. Marisa
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 7:44 am

    Kati – you’re so right, Payton is a terrific heroine. Julie James gives all of her heroines the right combination of smarts and humor. I dig that in a heroine.

    I haven’t read much contemporary in a while but I really enjoyed Jenn, the second heroine in Brockmann’s Hot Pursuit. She’s a woman like so many of us, relateable and down to earth.

  5. Maria Lokken
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 8:16 am

    Kati – you’re right – it isn’t easy writing a contemporary heroine. It’s a tricky balance because I think there are a lot of different opinions as to what defines a ‘contemporary woman’ today.

  6. Kati
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 8:48 am

    Mornin’ everyone! Thanks so much for joining us for Heroine’s Week here at RNTV! We’re really looking forward to sharing with you some of our favorites, and hopefully stealing some great book suggestions from you about what we should be reading!

    Buffie – Just wait ’til you read Book 3! I was lucky enough to be asked to beta read for Julie, and Cameron, the heroine, is my favorite Julie James character yet! You’ll love her!

    Stacy – You know, I think you’ve put your finger on why Julie’s heroines work so well. They’re not intimidated by the strong men they brush up against. And you’re right, they’re much like Julie, who is tiny, but definitely mighty!

    Dee- Jane is one of my all time favorite contemporary heroines too! And Luc? *SIGH* I’d love to get a look at his tattoo! 😉 Oh! But we’re talking about heroines…right! Jane…she’s awesome. 😈

    Marisa – I haven’t read a Suz book in a while, you’re making me think maybe I need to revisit them.

    Maria – I’m SO looking forward to this week and what seeing which heroines our reviewers are going to pick!

  7. Lisa from Temple
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 8:58 am

    I just read this book actually, and really enjoyed it. I really love battle-of-the-sexes book like these. And yes, I loved Payton’s sense of humor, how she kept her cool, got the job done, and gave as good as she got.

  8. Andrea
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 9:14 am

    Great blog, Kati!! I’ve read both of Julie’s books and loved them both, mainly because of the heroines. I’m really looking forward to book 3!

  9. Julie James
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 10:49 am

    Hi everyone!

    Kati: Wow– I’m so honored you chose Payton for heroine’s week! And I think it’s great you guys are doing this–sure, it’s fun to talk about the heroes, but the ladies rock, too!

    Interesting, the things you said about it being a challenge writing a strong heroine. There were times, when writing the book, that I started to worry that Payton had taken things too far, that she was too competitive, etc. But then I thought about the fact that J.D. was the same exact way, and so I figured, hey, what’s good for the goose…

    Stacy: what you touched on there is great–it’s all about balance. Meaning, if the heroine is going head-to-head with the hero, and throwing barbs and banter and sarcasm around with him, then it’s important to show her in other elements, like with her friends, where we see her being a normal person. So that we see she’s not a b-tchy person in general, it’s just that she dislikes him. (Or so she thinks…) Same goes for the hero.

    And thanks for pimping out my books! I’m heading over to your blog right now to read the full story. And how do I know you posted about that today? Because my husband, of course, already checked out your blog this morning and told me. 😉

    As for a contemporary heroine that I really like… hmm… lots of choices, but one I have to mention is Jaine from Mr. Perfect.

  10. katiebabs
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 12:06 pm

    Payton loves coffee. She had me when she spilled hers on J.D.’s suit jacket by accident. And from that came the laugh out loud court scene.

  11. Mary G
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 2:14 pm

    I love both of Julie’s books & all the characters but if I had to pick one “you go girl” scene it was when Taylor had Jason on the stand for being late in JTSMA.
    I could picture that in a move (Miss Screenwriter Julie).
    It was one of many laugh out loud moments from both books..

  12. Lea
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 3:27 pm

    Hi Kati!

    Great post. I’ve read both of Julie’s books and enjoyed them thoroughly. Both her heroines were wonderful, however I agree. Payton was awesome and I would definitely buy that girl a drink too. lol

    Another of my favorites is Harper Blaine from Kat Richardson’s Grey Walker series. Unique, no nonsense heroine. I also like Dr. Alexandra Keller from Lynn Viehl’s “Darkyn” series. Another very strong witty heroine.


  13. Gannon
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 3:43 pm

    Great job, Kati! I would definitely want to be friends with Payton, too.

  14. Joy
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 4:36 pm

    I read the book not that long ago. I was laughing so hard when I read that scene that my husband demanded an explanation for what was so very funny. I handed the book over to him with a little bit of explanation as to how the scene was set. He also laughed very, very hard. Peyton is a great character.

    Much like what you’ve described, some of my favorite heroines are smart, sharp, and aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves. That’s a very attractive trait to have in a person.

  15. Pam P
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 6:26 pm

    Loved that courtroom scene and how Payton kept her cool. What I like about Julie’s heroines is their self-confidence and being comfortable/liking who they are, being able to go toe-to-toe and not caving to intimidation (of any sort), I don’t read many contemporaries being caught up in other genres, but I’ll sure be reading Julie’s next book. I’ve enjoyed both very much.

  16. Dee
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 7:56 pm

    Kati – I agree about the tattoo.

  17. Renee
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 8:17 pm

    Payton is a great heroine, Kati! And, I think you captured the exact moment that she becomes more than a character type (the “strong woman”) and is humanized and made relate-able. Her reaction to such a mortifying situation shows her willingness to laugh at herself, and while it’s clear that she takes her work very seriously, she isn’t self-important.

    One of my favorite heroines is Liberty from Sugar Daddy. She’s strong, can stand on her own two feet, and has such a positive attitude.

  18. PJ
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 9:07 pm

    Great blog, Kati! I loved Julie’s first book and have had this one on my tbr since DC. I haven’t been able to find time to read it yet but your blog has made me want to toss everything else aside and get to know Payton now! 🙂

  19. Marial
    on Aug 26th, 2009
    @ 10:23 pm

    I LOVE THIS BOOK. It is one of the best I have read this year. I can’t wait for Julie James next book.
    This says a lot because I normally prefer my books to be steamy, this one is not, but it was so well written I didn’t mind.

  20. Twitter Trackbacks for A Heroine I'd Like To Be Friends With by Kati Dancy | Romance Novel TV [] on
    on Aug 27th, 2009
    @ 8:01 pm

    […] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @katid said It's Heroine's Week at RNTV! Join us! […]

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