Review: In Her Defense by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-booktimeserved
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Time Served, #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Elijah Grant
Heroine: Caitlin Dufresne
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 7, 2015
Started On: May 17, 2016
Finished On: May 19, 2016

One cannot read the first book in the Time Served series and not be intrigued by the “villain” in the novel, aka Caitlin Dufresne, especially when Julianna decided to write Caitlin’s book as the second installment in the series. In Her Defense is an appropriate title for the book, showing Caitlin from various different perspectives, bringing to the readers a side of her we would never have seen or even being bothered to look for otherwise.

Caitlin is riding the high from the recent big win of the famous Fowler case and is focused on reaching the top, where her focus has always been since a very young age. While people see her as the lawyer that would screw over everyone else to get to the top, or even sleep her way to the top, Caitlin is in fact more than that. While her affair with one of the partners of the firm and a married one at that, has left colleagues with a less than stellar impression of her, not to mention the fact that Caitlin’s ambitions does not make her a team player, helps foster and maintain the less than favorable view of her around the firm.

However, Caitlin’s rapid ascent to the top is mired by one fatal mistake – too much work, too little rest and the high of too many Red Bulls consumed, and Caitlin finds herself forced to take leave from work, the very last thing that she wants or needs. Or so she thinks. Which is how Caitlin’s path crosses with that of Elijah Grant, the head of IT at the firm.

Though the first encounter between Caitlin and Eli leaves a lot to be desired, starting from the second coincidental meeting between them, Eli shows Caitlin that when it comes to that particular type of men she usually goes for, with Eli being the antithesis of all those requirements; even then, Eli manages to get her blood humming, her senses singing, with just a well worded command issued from his mouth.

Thus Eli and Caitlin find themselves embarking on an affair that scorches through the sheets, the stairways, the walls and any position they can find. Even though Caitlin’s prior relationships have all being about the physical aspects of more than the emotional, with Eli she finds that he is way too intuitive and in tune with her feelings to be brushed off that easily. However, for both of them to have anything meaningful and long-term between them, both Eli and Caitlin will have to let go of the shackles of their past and own up to what they are to each other, even if it means leaving themselves open and vulnerable to each other in a way they never have before.

Though told only from Caitlin’s perspective in the first person, the one thing that resonated deep within me as I read along was just how hard and fast I fell in love Eli. Before I was even halfway through the story, I realized and accepted the truth that Eli was one hell of a hero and that I would be hard pressed to find anyone else who would live up to the impression he had made on me. The fact that Julianna crafted Eli in a way that she didn’t have to continually talk about his looks, how sexy he was; basically how understated it all was, and yet every time he took the reins in the affair that was ongoing, I was ready to lie down and surrender myself to him spoke volumes. I swear that every time he said “now!” in an authoritative way, I just about lost it. And I thought Dean Barclay was the only man who could wow me in that sense. Dean was intense in a lot of ways, you can’t read his book and not be enslaved. Eli is a whole different sort of intense – you will just have to read it to find it because it is at times a bit hard to describe just how into his character I was from the minute he turned up in the story. 

If ever there is a master at storytelling, it is an author who can make hatred or intense dislike turn into love. Caitlin is a character who invokes a lot of intense feelings of the negative kind in book 1 of the series. All that however changes, the minute you pick this up to read. Trust me on that. At first I was also a bit hesitant to read Caitlin’s story because I guess I truly didn’t understand or believe in the wealth of magic that Julianna holds in her fingertips when it comes to romance writing.

What drew me in when it came to to Caitlin’s character was how Julianna laid out the details of her life; where she comes from, her familial background; all of it putting together the picture of a highly ambitious woman who is not afraid to work hard and play it dirty to get to the very top. Because that’s where she has always told herself that she would be, at the top, even though it might be the loneliest place to be, but nevertheless the top it is for her.

The forced vacation could not have come at a more opportune time however, even though Caitlin might believe otherwise at first. Work had been her life and life had been all about work and nothing else when she had been forced to do so. And in being forced into taking one, she finds it in her to slow down, learn to work as a team member, even if it kills her to do so. Because that’s what Caitlin does. She works at something until she is good at it, until she is the best. 

The changes that Eli brings to her life are quite significant. But that does not mean that she loses the drive that makes her essentially who she is. She is not afraid to follow her dreams, and hold her head up high in doing so, even when her heart is broken into pieces. I was glad that Julianna didn’t try to shove Caitlin’s character down the acceptable feminist mold where one sees everything as a challenge, where life is a constant battlefield where the heroine refuses to change, remains so stubborn because that is what the mold dictates.Some authors try so hard to project this image of the ultimate free spirit who itches at the very thought of settling down, who breaks out into hives at even the mere whisper of a long term relationship. Women like that for me are quite trying and tiring at times. Which is why I am so very glad that Caitlin turned out to be different. Yes, she is independent, feisty, able to hold her own and charter her own course towards the unknown. But she is also vulnerable, able to feel deeply and falls like a ton of bricks for the man who finally sees her. The real her. Even though they both make mistakes, they do come out as the winning team at the end. The angst was no less heavy in this book than the previous one in the series. But it was just as good, and the ending, just as warmth inducing. 

The sex was off the charts hot. There was a Skype session in the story that would never have me look at the camera on a laptop the same way, ever again. Eli’s confidence and playful nature in bed and out of it makes him such a turn on. I soaked up and reveled in every single aspect of Eli there was to indulge in. Goes to show that heroes don’t have to have a degree in dirty talking and call every heroine they come across every term of endearment there is and constantly use phrases like “pussy” or “cunt” in order to be sexy, sound sexy and do it dirty!

The only downside to the story would have to be the fact that the story is told entirely from Caitlin’s point of view. I would have loved to see Eli’s view of things, even be it towards the end. Nevertheless, Julianna has done a stellar job in creating both Caitlin and Eli and giving readers a story they would not forget for a long while.

Final Verdict: Julianna continues to woo, wow and amaze me with her sexy and feel good romances. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Want to know what I thought about you?”
“You told me already, remember? Coldhearted bitch? She-devil? And I’m sure you saw my picture on the website.”
A smirk. “I saw your picture on the cover of Chicago’s Finest.”
I seldom blush, but I do now. I’d had copies delivered to everyone on staff. “Whatever.”
“And when I saw you ripping into Todd I thought, Holy shit. She’s the hottest, meanest woman I’ve ever seen.”
I snicker, torn between feeling chastised and flattered. “Well,” I offer, “at least I didn’t fuck your friend.”

I can’t look away from the intensity of his stare. I’m not a wallflower; I’ve been with plenty of men. Nowhere near the hundreds my reputation suggests, but plenty. And Eli’s nothing like the practiced, smooth men I’ve been with. The slightly older, more experienced, more predictable men. He’s not wearing a three-piece suit with a car and driver waiting out front; this isn’t a five-star restaurant with a thousand-dollar bottle of wine resting on the table. This is a man in khakis, in the corner booth of some ancient pub, sitting at a table littered with shot glasses and a melting banana split. I know better than to ask questions I don’t know the answer to, but even though I have no idea what Eli will say or do tonight, tomorrow, or next week, all I know is that right here, right now, I want him. And I like it.

I give a startled, slightly pained cry at the pressure, and Eli lowers his mouth to mine, providing a distraction as he slowly stretches me, stroking somewhere deep inside that makes my stomach muscles flutter. And then I forget all about the fingers and the ache as something builds and builds, though every time I get close to coming he stops what he’s doing and does something else. The darkness and the weight of him is like a cocoon, and everything is swirled into one big, pulsing ball of need. He traces the seam of my mouth with his tongue and bites my bottom lip until I open, then he pushes inside and kisses me, wet and dark and dirty, like few have ever dared.

“Best fuck of my life, Caitlin Dufresne,” he says, reaching down to open the back door.
The streetlights here are brighter, and the muted glow from nearby buildings illuminates everything. I study his face for hidden meaning, but though the words might be crude, there’s nothing but sincerity in his gaze. “Me, too,” I tell him.
“That so?”
I slide into the backseat and look up at him, pressing my index finger to my lips, the universal sign for “Don’t tell anyone.”

“What do you need?” he asks, trailing his tongue along my jaw.
“I need you to fuck me. Don’t hold back.”
“Why?”
“Wha—Why?”
“Yeah. Why?”
“I just do.”
He grunts and pushes up over me so he’s sitting back on his knees for leverage, my legs spread over his. He leans in and presses his hands to the mattress on either side of my waist and watches my face carefully as he shoves in deep and hard.
“Yes,” I breathe, as everything inside spasms around him. “Just like that.”

He stops laughing. “Caitlin. I appreciate having my dick sucked. I appreciate seeing your head in my lap. I appreciate feeling your hair in my fingers and your hands on my balls and hearing the little slurping sounds you make when you swallow me. I appreciated the fuck out of that blow job.”
Well. A little thrill skitters through me. Apparently Eli has no problem talking dirty at work.
“Then what’s the problem?”
“The problem is I don’t like things to be one-sided. I like symmetry. If I come, I want you to come.”

“Are you jerking yourself off?” I ask softly. I cross and recross my legs, but it does nothing to relieve the throbbing pressure between my thighs.
“No,” Eli replies. “That’s your job.” His voice is suddenly controlled, and it amps up my arousal a thousand notches. “Are you wearing a skirt?”
I finger the hem, the fabric soft and smooth. “Yes.”
“Good. Take off your panties and meet me in the stairwell in five minutes.”
My breath catches. “Eli, I can’t—”
His rough laugh stops me. “Caitlin. You can and you will.”
Then he hangs up.”

“You told someone—”
He fixes his pants, and comes forward to smooth a strand of wayward hair behind my ear. “I told him to stop anyone from getting within ten feet of the door,” he says.
“Did he ask why?”
“Of course he did.”
“What did you tell him?”
He presses a kiss to my temple. “I told him I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says softly. “Just that I didn’t want to stop.”

“Think you can come?” he asks, uttering the words right against my clit.
“Yes!”
“Aw. Good. Let me feel it.”
“I’m close.”
“Let me hear it.”
“Eli…”
“Let me taste it.”
And then I lose it.

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