Sex v. Love—a battle in the courtroom and the bedroom!
Hotshot litigator Elise Carroll doesn’t have time for romance—she wants to make partner at her Philadelphia law firm. Despite her mother’s urging, Elise avoids settling down by keeping her relationships short and sexy. Her idea of a perfect date? Beer and pretzels at a Phillies game.
When Jack “Blackjack” McIntyre—Philly’s super-sexy new judge—falls for Elise in court, she’s horrified. He “claims” to be in love with her—but that can’t possibly be true. He doesn’t give up trying to wine and dine her, though, so she devises a new scheme. Like all men, surely he’ll leave after a short and sexy fling.
Only problem—Blackjack refuses to sleep with her! They compromise—she’ll go on his romantic dates if he’ll alternate them with her “just sex” dates. Their contract works surprisingly well—until Elise can no longer find the line between love and sex.
Can Elise get her life back where she wants it—in a partner’s office? Or will Jack McIntyre use his superpowers to win their contest of wits?
You want to know about my series, The Blackjack Quartet? Better get some paper and a pencil—this is going to end up looking like one of those diagrams that football coaches use, with X’s and arrows!
It starts with Blackjack himself. Jack McIntyre, newly minted federal judge, used to be the US Attorney in Philadelphia. I had to give him a high profile job or there was no way a guy in his late thirties would ever be appointed to the federal bench. I first thought of the key scene in Blackjack & Moonlight—where Jack falls for Elise Carroll, a lawyer in his court—in the late 90s, back when I was clerking for a federal judge. After Jack wrestles with the judicial ethics, he has to deal with the fact that Elise has no interest in his romantic appeal. She just wants to unwrap him like a Christmas present and get sweaty with him in bed. Good luck wooing her, Jack!
Anyway, Jack’s how the series got started. Not unreasonably, as the series is named for him and he appears in all four books.
The problem was, I sensed it might be hard for readers to start with Blackjack & Moonlight, so I thought about another experience I had as a Philadelphia lawyer. While I was at one of the big firms, a former Assistant US Attorney came to work as a partner. Because it’s so hard to get hired there, AUSAs are in demand in the private sector. Voila! I had Dan Howard, the hero of The Cost of Happiness! He needed a heroine worthy of him, so I dreamed up Meghan Mattson, the Cinderella of the law firm. Dan insists on working with Meghan, there’s a really hot kiss in a hotel room outside Boston, an evil step-sister…I mean, senior associate, and a ball. Weird thing is, I didn’t know I was writing a Cinderella story until it was all done. (Hey, former lawyers can be blind sometimes…)
I would have started with The Cost of Happiness, but I still worried that people might not want to read about lawyers right off the bat. Better I should ease into my legal community with a law student. So I imagined Jack with twentysomething twin nieces, Libby and Lissa. I made them particularly identical, so that people can be fooled if they trade places. I stashed Lissa (the social butterfly) in Alaska, came up with a reason for her law school twin, Libby, to take over her bartending job. Then I had Rand Jennings, the producer of the hit reality TV show, The Fishbowl, show up at the bar where Libby (law student) is working as her bartender sister. Rand thinks Libby is Lissa, and that she applied to be on The Fishbowl. He casts her even though he knows she’s not what his boss is looking for—but he doesn’t realize that she’s a law student and thus REALLY not what his boss wanted.
Okay. I admit it. I’m not very good at simplifying my plots. I’m trying to accomplish “simple” with Lost and Found, book four in the Blackjack Quartet. That’s the one where Lissa returns from Alaska, needs a place to stay and moves in with Rand’s friend, Phil. It’s strictly roommates until (as the tag line puts it) “one night, a bottle of tequila, and a power outage change all that.”
Don’t worry—I’ll find a way to make it a hopeless tangle of X’s and arrows. That’s my style.
If you’d like to read more about The Blackjack Quartet, visit its website, www.BlackjackQuartet.com. There you’ll find excerpts, cast lists, and a wonderful set of explanations for the places and things mentioned in each book. My husband is British, so he figured anyone not from Philadelphia would want to see what stuff looked like.
“Hey, it’s my favorite client.” Elise Carroll grinned and dropped her briefcase so she could scoop DeeDee, her secretary’s four-year-old, into her arms.
Kim looked up from a file open on her desk, her cheeks striped by dried tears. “Can you play with her for a couple minutes?”
Uh-oh. More domestic drama—the last thing Kim needed. “Okay, but I cannot be late for that man.” Elise walked into her office. With the door open, Kim would be able to watch her daughter from across the hall.
“What man, Auntie Leese?” DeeDee asked, her corn-silk hair glinting under the office lights.
Elise pointed at the magazine on her desk. “Him.”
DeeDee reached for Philadelphia Magazine, the cover showing a handsome man in a black robe. The headline read, “Philadelphia’s Newest—and Sexiest—Judge” and beneath that, in smaller letters, “Blackjack McIntyre moves from the US Attorney’s office to his own district court.”
“Who’s dat?” DeeDee inspected the photo.
Elise laughed. “Just the latest guy to think a black robe makes him right all the time.” She set DeeDee down on the carpeted floor. “You want to color, sweetheart?”
Elise pulled some paper out of the recycling bin, and after checking what was printed on it, spread it out on the floor, blank sides up. She found the crayons she kept in her desk for DeeDee’s visits.
She checked her watch. “Oh, lord, look at the time. If I don’t leave immediately I’ll be late for him.” She pointed at Blackjack McIntyre, scowling at her from the cover of the magazine.
Kim grinned. “I can’t wait to hear all about it. Details, I want all the details. Is he as good-looking as in his press conferences?”
“Not you too.” Elise threw the magazine onto Kim’s desk. Jack McIntyre’s blue-black hair and chiseled jaw mocked her from the cover. Superman in a judicial robe. “I don’t plan to be there long enough to look at him. Five minutes, tops. He grants my motion, and I’m out of there.”
“Oh, please. You know he’s seriously hunky. And the article says he’s not dating anyone at the moment.”
“Well, based on the women he’s been seen with, I’m not his type. Good thing because I have no interest in dating him or anyone else right now. I want to focus on making partner. And you’d better focus on getting your daughter to day care.”
Another check of the watch. Shit. There’d better be a cab downstairs or she’d be late.
On her way back into her office, Elise looked at the papers on the floor. DeeDee had drawn a figure in black. Either it was the Honorable Jack McIntyre or a vampire bat. Hard to tell.
About the Author
After pairing up lawyers romantically in her head for fifteen years, Magdalen Braden traded in her job as an attorney to set her inner matchmaker free. Today she draws on her past adventures in a Philadelphia law office to write her sexy contemporary romance series, The Blackjack Quartet.
Blackjack & Moonlight, the third installment in the series, was a finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest in 2012. All four books contain love, romance, and a solid dose of legal humor.
Magdalen connects with readers at her local satellite of the Lady Jane’s Salon® reading series, and with fellow writers at her Romance Writers of America® chapter.
When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her crossword-loving husband, their Rhody-mix dog, and two omnipresent cats in the Endless Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania.
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