Review for ‘Standby Counsel’ by Alexi Venice
This lesbian courtroom drama would make a very exciting movie. Although it’s the second Monica Spade novel, it can be read as a standalone since the plot is completely different. I would nevertheless recommend reading ‘Conscious Bias’ first because it’s really good and you’ll know where Monica and the people around her come from. You’ll also have a better idea of who Monica is, and I think it explains a lot about her actions and reactions in this book too.
Monica Spade is not a trial lawyer. She’s perfectly content managing her new law firm and taking care of her biggest client, the Community Memorial Hospital, and all its legal needs, whether it’s an acquisition or a ludicrous lawsuit on behalf of a monkey. So when a judge appoints her as standby counsel in a criminal case, she’s not happy.
Stela Reiter looks like a reserved librarian from Romania yet she’s anything but. Since she’ll be defending herself, arguing self-defense, Monica’s role is to explain to her the process of the trial. She soon realises, however, that the woman, who has confessed to stabbing her boyfriend numerous times, knows a lot more about legal proceedings than most people. Simultaneously, Monica’s romance with Shelby St. Clair is both sizzling and struggling, as Shelby tries to come to terms with her previous relationship.
If you like courtroom drama, you’re in for a treat. Stela is incredibly intriguing, smart, and wicked. Acknowledging from the start than she is the killer allows the story to focus on why the stabbing occurred, and the trial is full of twists and dramatic turns of events.
The trial and the reasons for the trial were a lot of fun, in a scary what-has-this-world-come-to way. I didn’t care much for the romance aspect, didn’t believe in Monica’s relationship with Shelby until they got in real trouble and I got more interested. To be honest, I didn’t remember much of the romance in book one either, it’s the legal mystery that makes these books well worth reading.