A Verdict For Love
by Monica Conti
Buy it Smashwords, Amazon (Kindle)
Chiara Bianchi’s star was rising. Her unexpected success in defending a notorious Atlanta crime figure had pushed her to the top of what had long been a male dominated law firm. The only thing lacking in her life was love. Then Grace came into her life. For a time it seemed that their relationship could remain discreet, but fate stepped in and forced a battle between justice and love.
I’ll be honest, this review almost never happened and maybe the if the author reads it she might wish it didn’t as well. There were many times when this story was going to be a DNF for me. But I’m stubborn that way sometimes and I kept reading. I’m glad I did even if I have some critical things to say.
There was also some disappointment because her story Song of Sirens, which I reviewed, was so nicely written; so above par in the usual erotica quality. So I did have some expectations of a well crafted story, which didn’t happen.
First I’ll say that what did keep me reading was that a lot of heart and warmth comes through in this story. If a book affects me on an emotional level in a positive way then I give it some credit even if the technical execution is awful. So my overall feeling is positive about this story.
The first issue I had was that through most of the first half and quite a bit of the second half, this story is all info dump. All tell-no show with an omniscient POV telling the story. Any dialogue starts towards the second half of the book. Mostly it’s some outside being telling Chiara’s and then Grace’s back stories, their meeting and first experiences together like how someone would read you a story. It got pretty boring since, well, it’s a nice story but this POV leaves the reader as purely an outsider looking in. It’s very hard to get invested in the characters if you’re not in their heads.
The next issue I had was that the author kind of went all over the place. In the first half, we are getting Chiara’s life story. She’s had a bad break up with her ex and her ex has found a new woman. But then she calls up Chiara and they have a one night tryst only to have the ex blow her off again. I just didn’t get the point of all of that. It felt like the author just threw that in there from left field to put in a sex scene. It was not hot or erotic at all to me because I don’t know who these characters are and it made no sense since the ex has nothing to do with the story at all.
Following on with the all over the place issues… the second half of the book, after Chiara and Grace get together the story really kicks in with… an actual story. However, there are constant POV changes in that dialogue kicks in and we finally get some action, but then it slides in and out of the omniscient POV again telling us what’s going on to gloss over things and get further on in the story. Included are philosophical ideas that the omniscient being muses about.
There are other issues like that outside of the love story, the main conflict is that the women have been discriminated against due to their being gay. And it seems the author was trying to make a socio/political statement about it by having good old white boys being nasty villain types, while having the Black lady lawyer defend them. All fine things that didn’t bother me at all. However…spoiler: (highlight to read)
Their lawyer Tamika, Chiara and Grace find a way to win the court battle through what amounts to blackmail basically, and not through the fact that it's just wrong to be discriminated against for being gay. Both Grace and Chiara were slacking on the job due to their affair, and Chiara basically tries to extort a payoff from her firm when she’s called on the carpet for slacking off and knows she’ll be fired for being gay.
Also, Chiara and Grace have sex in the office and start showing up late, which is fine for an erotic story in general, but don’t tie it then to getting slammed for being gay.
Another issue is the whole impropriety of a Chiara seducing and having an affair with her secretary and then not really acknowledging that it’s improper in general. Think of it in terms of of m/f, it’s the same thing. Especially in a law office.
So the social injustice aspect felt off to me because if you’re going to write a story that makes a statement about social injustice, then I feel the characters have to be above board and not act on the level of the villain.
There were things I really loved about this story. Both Chiara and Grace are lovable characters. Chiara is a smart woman who’s worked hard and put up with the good old boys crap for years to get a position and be a partner. It’s been her whole life and her personal life has taken a back seat to it. She’s older and seems to be more dominant wanting to take care of Grace. However Grace doesn’t put up with any crap and holds her own.
There really isn’t too much about Grace. She’s a poor country girl who comes from a backward thinking family who wants to make something of herself. She worked hard to graduate law school and goes to the big city to find work. She’s immediately attracted to Chiara and finally gets why she never really got turned on by the men she was with. And she basically lets Chiara tell her what they are going to do. Although she does have a backbone and stands up for issues that piss her off with Chiara.
They both go whole heartedly into the relationship and their interactions are very sweet, but realistic as well, which I liked. At one point when both are holed up waiting for the trial, they start sniping at each other and I feared it would head into too much reality for me. However, how they resolve that is quite yummy even if that part also ventured into the “all over the place territory” as well. I won’t explain, there are enough spoilers already.
What did shine through though is that these two women really love each other and that they will have an HEA. They are very loving and juicy together and the sex is really hot. The rest of the plot got very interesting from the halfway point, enough to keep me reading and to see that the author is capable of telling a gripping story. There was just enough tension and action to keep me going. So in the end, my overall experience was good.
This is a self published book on Smashwords and outside of the not well done technical execution, all tell and no show, I thought this story better than some reads from established publishers. I would still read another of Monica Conti’s book since Song of the Sirens was such a good read and I like when an author portrays lovingness with hot sex between a couple.
Heat level 5- some graphic sexual situations,but not too much for the story. Minor anal.