Law of Attraction (Anna Curtis Series #1)

Law of Attraction (Anna Curtis Series #1)

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by Allison Leotta

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The first book in the Anna Curtis series takes readers on an exhilarating ride through the criminal justice system as a young prosecutor battles a disturbing murder case that conflicts dangerously with her own personal life.

As a newly minted Assistant US Attorney in Washington, DC, Anna Curtis has already developed a thick skin to help her deal with the

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The first book in the Anna Curtis series takes readers on an exhilarating ride through the criminal justice system as a young prosecutor battles a disturbing murder case that conflicts dangerously with her own personal life.

As a newly minted Assistant US Attorney in Washington, DC, Anna Curtis has already developed a thick skin to help her deal with the unsettling brutality she encounters daily with her overflowing stack of domestic violence cases. Yet when Laprea Johnson walks into Anna’s life—battered by her boyfriend on the morning after Valentine’s Day—there’s something about this particular case that Anna can’t quite shake, something that reminds the prosecutor of her own troubled past.

It’s also the biggest case of Anna’s career—and the most personal. If she wins it, she could lose everything. The victim she tried to protect is dead. Her lover—no, her ex-lover—is defending the accused killer. Caught between seeking justice for Laprea and saving her personal life, Anna makes a series of choices that jeopardize her career, her relationships, and her very life as she uncovers the shocking truth behind the murder.

“A beautifully written and suspenseful debut” (Barbara Delinsky, author of Not My Daughter) from “an up-and-coming literary giant” (Suspense Magazine), Law of Attraction provides a fascinating glimpse into the most emotional cases of DC’s criminal justice system.

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Editorial Reviews

Barbara Delinsky
“A beautifully written and suspenseful debut, offering not only an inside look at crime and the courts in DC, but an exploration of the family dynamics that affect so much of who we are and what we do.”
The Providence Journal
“This is a major debut, and Leotta is a female John Grisham."
The Washington Post
“[A] racy legal thriller . . . tackling a still-taboo subject.”
From the Publisher
“This is a major debut, and Leotta is a female John Grisham."

“With this riveting debut legal thriller, Leotta joins the big leagues with pros like Lisa Scottoline and Linda Fairstein. A vulnerable, tenacious heroine, surprising twists and turns, and equal parts romance and danger are a recipe for success. Readers will feverishly hope for a second book.”

“[A] racy legal thriller . . . tackling a still-taboo subject.”

“A beautifully written and suspenseful debut, offering not only an inside look at crime and the courts in DC, but an exploration of the family dynamics that affect so much of who we are and what we do.”

Publishers Weekly
In Leotta’s solid suspense debut, Anna Curtis, an earnest but decidedly green Washington, D.C., assistant U.S. attorney, learns some unforgettable lessons about domestic abuse. The rookie prosecutor is dismayed when a client, Laprea Johnson, the battered girlfriend of ex-con D’marco Davis, who’s charged with assaulting Laprea, recants her testimony in court, allowing D’marco, the father of Laprea’s four-year-old twins, to go free. D’marco happens to be represented by Nick Wagner, a former Harvard Law classmate of Anna’s who soon starts pursuing Anna romantically. When months later Laprea’s lifeless, pregnant body turns up in the garbage dump behind D’marco’s building, D’marco is charged with her murder. D.C. homicide chief Jack Bailey and Anna become friends as they prepare the case against D’marco, while Nick, who’s lost Anna’s affections, tries to win her back. Leotta, herself a D.C. sex crimes prosecutor, makes some smart observations about the conflicts legal eagles face in the pursuit of justice. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews

First-time novelist Leotta follows a rookie federal prosecutor on the case of a lifetime in this thriller set against the backdrop of the Washington, D.C., court system.

The author, a federal sex-crimes prosecutor who hails from Michigan and has a Harvard law degree, pits her heroine, plucky Anna Curtis, a sex-crimes prosecutor who hails from Michigan and has a law degree from Harvard, against rich, bad-boy public defender Nick Wagner. Wagner, a handsome rake whose job defending poor clients is a type of penance for his father's sins, sweeps Anna off her feet. The two share an Ivy League background, but they also have a case in common, and that case eventually leads them to go their separate ways. Nick's client, D'marco Davis, has a bad habit of beating up his girlfriend, Laprea Johnson, but Nick's slick defense always gets D'marco off. After lying on the stand to free D'marco one last time, Laprea turns up in a trash bag, dead after a beating witnessed by an elderly man. But while D'marco admits to the beating, he denies killing Laprea. Now he's trying to get Anna to listen to him. Meanwhile, Anna is on board with D'marco's prosecution, headed by the prosecutor's homicide chief, a smooth African-American named Jack Bailey. Jack is the widowed father of a little girl and a lawyer with a reputation for chewing up the newbies assigned to him and spitting them out whole. Anna isn't sure what Jack represents to her, but she knows she's confused and that confusion turns to a whole different set of emotions following a harrowing series of events that puts Anna square in the center of a bull's eye. The story is well paced and plotted, but Leotta tends to overexplain legal procedure and the D.C. geography. There are some silly moments, and the cringe-worthy dialogue between the defendant, the victim and the victim's family nearly eclipses the action, but the second half of the book picks up the pace and holds the reader's attention to the end.

A respectable debut from someone who clearly knows her business.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Anna Curtis Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt


The courthouse coffee was terrible, but the morning after Valentine’s Day was no time for a domestic violence prosecutor to go uncaffeinated. Anna poured the inky brew into a Styrofoam cup, took a sip, and grimaced. Scalding and bitter—a fitting start to a day of sorting through last night’s crimes. At least she’d have help. Anna pulled out her cell phone and called her officemate.

“DV Papering,” Grace answered in crisp singsong.

“Hey, I’m in the cafeteria. Want some coffee?”

“That’d be fabulous.” Grace hushed her voice. “And grab a bunch of napkins. There’s a woman bleeding all over your chair.”

Grace had been a prosecutor for four months, but Anna was still new enough that the information jolted her. “Should we call an ambulance?”

“She’s okay. A lot of scrapes and bruises, and a very messy nosebleed. Nothing life-threatening. I can cover till you get here. And can you snag me a muffin? I’m starving.”

“Sure. Be right there.”

Marveling at Grace’s calm, Anna grabbed a muffin and got in line to pay. Three people stood in front of her: a tall guy in a dark suit, a man wearing a Redskins jersey over a blue collared shirt, and a buxom woman in fishnet stockings and a spandex miniskirt. Lawyer, Anna guessed of the first man. Then a policeman, hiding his uniform so courthouse visitors wouldn’t ask him questions. And a prostitute, just getting off work, here to see her probation officer. The one thing Anna liked about the courthouse’s grim basement cafeteria was its democracy. The cop might arrest the prostitute later tonight, and the lawyer might skewer the cop during cross-examination, but everyone had to wait in the same line to get their corned-beef hash.

After paying, Anna hurried to the napkin dispenser, but the tall lawyer who’d been ahead of her took the last ones.

She looked at him in dismay. “Actually, I really need those,” she said, nodding at the napkins in his hand.

Something about the man’s dark hair and lanky figure seemed familiar, but out of place. His tailored suit and buttery leather briefcase were common in the federal court next door, but marked him as several income brackets above the D.C. Superior Court crowd. He probably worked for some big Washington law firm, in one of the high-paying jobs she’d turned down to work for the government.

The man glanced down at her and suddenly grinned. “Anna Curtis! Hey! It’s been a while.”

“Hi, um . . .” She shook her head.

“Nick Wagner. Harvard Law School. I had a ridiculous beard? And hair down to here.” He tapped his shoulder and blushed slightly. “Your team beat mine in the final round of Ames Moot Court. Kicked our asses, in fact.”

“Nick! You used to play guitar in the Hark during Friday happy hour.”

“You got it.” His smile widened. “I guess you made more of an impression on me than I made on you.”

“Sorry—I’m just in a rush, and focused on those napkins.”

Nick placed them ceremoniously in her palm. “Some kind of food spill emergency?”

“Thank you. Bloody nose. Abuse victim in the Papering Room. So—I’ve got to go.” Anna began to walk out of the cafeteria, looking over her shoulder with regret. “I’m sorry I can’t really talk now.”

Nick hurried along with her through the labyrinth of the courthouse basement. “So, you’re a prosecutor—and you pulled papering duty on the day after Valentine’s Day? What’d you do, run over the U.S. Attorney’s dog?”

She had to laugh. Papering was the most despised assignment in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a task only the greenest prosecutors could be compelled to do. Anna would turn arrests from the last twenty-four hours into criminal case files: typing information into a computer, two-hole-punching police paperwork, condensing lifetimes of violence into slim manila folders. The tedium was broken only when a victim came to tell her sad story in person. And Valentine’s Day was notoriously the worst time for domestic violence. People were two-timing each other, or paying too much attention to their baby’s mother and not enough to their wife, or just plain forgetting a card. It was surprising how often a lovers’ quarrel turned into a trip to lockup.

“I just started in January,” Anna explained, “so I’m still in the hazing period.”

“Well, we should catch up sometime.”

“Sure,” she said as they rounded a corner. A crowd of police officers lined the hallway outside the Papering Room. She’d never seen so many blue uniforms in one place before. It was going to be a long day.

“How about dinner tonight?” Nick asked.

“I don’t know.” Anna glanced sideways at him without slowing her pace. Despite the poor timing, it was a tempting offer. She’d been feeling homesick and disconnected in her new city. It’d be nice to talk with a law school acquaintance. She stopped in the doorway to the Papering Room and handed him her business card. “Call me. Let’s see how things look later.”

“I will.”

He smiled at her: a warm, radiant smile. Despite herself, she felt a natural pull toward him. This might not turn out to be such a bad day-after-Valentine’s Day after all.

That thought died as she walked into the Papering Room.

A tiny woman sat at one of the two sagging desks, flanked by Grace and a uniformed policeman. Blood had soaked the woman’s white button-down shirt and spattered the gray linoleum at her feet. A few dark red drops flecked the bottom of the mint green cinder block walls. Her beautiful brown face was marred by two black eyes so swollen they were nearly shut. Raw red abrasions covered her left cheek in a messy cross-hatch pattern. She held a piece of bloodstained office paper to her nose and rocked herself back and forth, moaning softly.

Although Anna had read a lot of police reports describing gruesome injuries lately, she hadn’t seen a woman this badly scraped up since her childhood. A wave of memories, guilt, and anger stunned her into a momentary paralysis. But today was her day to pick up cases, so this victim was her responsibility. Clenching her teeth, she strode over to the woman and held out a couple of napkins. “Here,” she said gently. “Try these.”

The woman swapped them for the paper at her nose.

“My name is Anna Curtis. I’m an AUSA, an Assistant U.S. Attorney. I’ll be handling your case.”

“Laprea Johnson,” the woman said. Her voice was so soft it was barely audible.

Suddenly Laprea gasped. The pain on her face transformed into a puckered mask of rage. At first, Anna wondered what she’d said to infuriate the woman.

But she was glaring past Anna—at Nick, who stood frozen in the doorway. His face had turned an ashy white. The wounded woman spat her words at him.

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

© 2010 Allison Leotta

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What People are saying about this

Barbara Delinsky

A beautifully written and suspenseful debut, offering not only an inside look at crime and the courts in DC, but an exploration of the family dynamics that affect so much of who we are and what we do.
From the Publisher
"With this riveting debut legal thriller, Leotta, a federal sex crimes prosecutor in Washington, DC, joins the big leagues with pros like Lisa Scottoline and Linda Fairstein." —-Library Journal Starred Review

Meet the Author

Allison Leotta was a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, DC, for twelve years. In 2011, she left the Justice Department to pursue writing full time. She is the acclaimed author of Law of Attraction, Discretion, Speak of the Devil, and A Good Killing and founder of the award-winning blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review. A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School, Leotta lives with her husband, Michael, and their two sons outside of Washington, D.C. Visit her online at

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Law of Attraction 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
DC-book-club More than 1 year ago
Wow! What a great first book. It was definitely a page turner that delved into the streets of DC. Anna is a great character and it is amazing to see her evolve from the beginning of the book. Hope there is another novel in the works!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Allison Leotta's book, Law of Attraction, was an exciting novel! I couldn't wait to find time to read the next chapter. She captures the reader with well-developed characters in the book. The plot continues until the bitter end. Can't wait for it to come out in print for my book club to read!
jtcNY More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent thriller in all respects - great characters, witty writing, unexpected (and non-cliched) twists and turns. What a privilege to read it pre-release - I encourage everyone to read it once it's available. It's an amazing debut by this author. I can't wait to read more by her.
catwak More than 1 year ago
This book is chick lit masquerading as thriller, leaning heavily on relationships to define the story. That said, it's remarkably well written, and I found it difficult to put down. I also found some of the main characters -- notably Anna, Nick and Jack -- eerily familiar, and the insight into the operations of DC's Office of the U.S. Attorney is perceptive, if unsettling. I hope that this is Ms. Leotta's first of many.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Came across this author by accident (where have I been?) I only wish all accidents were this rewarding!!! After only half way through, I ordered all her other books!! Highly recommend to all who like legal, suspense, and mystery all in one.
M.Lane More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! A page turner with plot twists that leave you wondering and waiting until you can finish the book. I hope this series continues. Ms. Leota is a great writer.
Lynie More than 1 year ago
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis works domestic violence in Washington, D.C. She's trying to convince her newest client, Laprea Johnson, to finally make the abuse charges stick against her boyfriend. Anna is shocked to learn that her own boyfriend, Public Defender Nick Wagner, is representing D'Marco Davis, the accused. When Laprea lies on the stand to protect D'Marco and then turns up dead, D'Marco is arrested for her murder despite his pleas of innocence. Curtis is determined to find out what really happened. Throw in a jailbreak, sexual attraction and intrigue and Ms. Leotta's debut novel is fun reading. The only problem is that the plot is a little too far fetched and way too early on you can see where it's going. Lynn Kimmerle
Anonymous 4 months ago
Amazing story line.
Suspensemag More than 1 year ago
Painful in its realism, talented newcomer Allison Leotta doesn't hold back in her gritty, debut, legal thriller "Law of Attraction". Centered in the bowels of D.C.'s criminal justice system, novice Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis spends her days submerged in the cruelty of the domestic violence cases that envelop her desk. A never-ending dose of violence has quickly helped Anna separate her emotions and her past from the job at hand until the morning Leprea Johnson walks in her door. Battered and bruised from another pitiless beating, Anna vows to help this woman. But can you really help someone who doesn't want to help themselves? When Leprea's bloody corpse is discovered under a mountain of garbage, Anna will choose justice for the victim over all else, sacrificing her budding relationship with public defender Nick Wagner, her career and even risking her life. Sharing an insider look into the intricate dynamics of the criminal justice system blended with the powerful draw of intense and realistic characters, Leotta has created more than your typical thriller. This is an author to keep your eye on. Reviewed by Shannon Raab with Suspense Magazine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really ejoyable! Great Characters-now reading the third book by this brilliant new author Hope she keeps them coming Find Anna Curtis and Jack Bailey very likeable main characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The main character, Anna Curtis, is a smart, savvy and beautiful prosecutor and you will immediately be in her corner! The plot captures your attention and the story unfolds and holds your attention. I read the book in 2 days and couldn't wait to read the next book in the series -Discretion. I have finished it too. And number 3 awaits. I highly recommend this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unpredictable & a great read. Looking forward to the next one of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book!! I was interested from start to finish. It was extremely suspenseful and funny. I really felt connected to the characters and to the familiar spots in DC. Great read!
Anonymous 14 days ago
Easy to read. Hard to put down.
Anonymous 18 days ago
Listening now and cant wait for the next installment!
Anonymous 25 days ago
To Sept.21,2013-Don't you get it ?It's only a game and she won again.It's like she had her 15 minutes of fame.Let her have a fu
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