Denver Bar Association
September 2006
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Fictional Lawyer Seeks Fairy Tale Romance
Romantically Challenged demonstrates disastrous dating attempts


by Christine Nierenz

Romantically Challenged is a humorous look at an associate attorney working her way through the dating world. Julie Burns is a single, 30-something entertainment lawyer working in Los Angeles who has an overbearing mother who wants to see her daughter married before Julie becomes an old maid.

Initially, Julie attempts to find love at her cousin’s wedding in New Jersey, only to end up having too many drinks, getting hit on by a Texan cowboy and having Joe the bartender drag her to her hotel room. The following morning greets her with a hangover as she plays Monday morning quarterback with her mother about her love life.

Thereafter, Julie returns to her law firm job and endures a string of humorous and odd potential suitors. She first goes out with John, someone she met on the flight home. John shows up for the date in gym clothes and whisks Julie away on a date to the local gym for a good sweaty workout, not what Julie (nor any single woman in her right mind) desires for a Friday night. Next is Ken, an attorney with an obnoxious amount of hair growing out of his nose, dooming the relationship from the start. Joe, the bartender, re-enters the picture to return an article of clothing to Julie during a lunch date, which enrages Julie. Next up is David, a doctor she met when she threw up on him in the ER after a bout of food poisoning. David takes Julie on a plane ride (he’s in the process of getting his pilot’s license). The date takes a turn for the worse when weather dictates that David must land the plane at an alternate airport and Julie finds out that David "hasn’t quite" been instrument-rated yet. She gives Joe a second chance, only to have their date end in a fight where Joe throws Julie into the swimming pool. Julie storms out and "temporarily" steals Joe’s car to get home, a likely realistic version of many bad divorce cases.

Exasperated with her set-ups, blind dates, and first dates, Julie turns to the commercial dating world, experimenting with dating/introduction services and "Jews-on-Line," which sounds like Match.com. These similarly produce miserable dating experiences that
culminate when the dating service goes out of business and takes Julie’s money. Julie, the savvy attorney, sues the now-defunct dating service in small claims court.

This is where the book gets a bit unbelievable (or were you already there?). A TV news reporter gets wind of Julie’s plight and attempts to do an exposé on the local news. He attempts to interview Julie after court; however Julie, not wanting the rest of Los Angeles to know she’s single, tries to evade the reporter, earning the moniker, "Romantically Challenged." The story becomes so sensational that movie rights to Julie’s dating life are sold. The book then ends with a "happily ever after date."

Overall, this novel is primarily a collection of bad date stories strung end-to-end, interspersed with anecdotes about law firm life. At times, the book is a bit slow, reading like a "West’s Dating Digest." At other times, scenarios come across as a bit far-fetched. The fact that the main character is a lawyer is only a tangential factor, and this book could have taken place with any profession. Hence, the legal significance or even legal drama of this book is minimal. If you’re in the mood for plucking through one woman’s humorous attempt to find "The One," then this is a good read for you. If you’re looking for a romance novel with deeper themes, "Wuthering Heights" is probably more apropos.


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