In 2014, Summer Augustine sat down to write a romance novel. At the time, Augustine had spent more than 15 years practicing law as a successful prosecuting attorney and then as a civil litigator.
When she began writing, Augustine considered it a hobby—but that quickly changed. “When I realized how much I loved to write,” she says, “and that other people loved to read what I wrote, I decided to get serious and actually become an author.”
Augustine’s intent was to keep the courtroom out of her fiction, but once she began typing, she knew she couldn’t. “I sat down to write a romance novel, but the leading lady was a prosecuting attorney,” Augustine says. “So her legal career took over the plot.”
The result was A Brush with Love, A Brush with the Law, a #1 Amazon bestselling novel about love and legal drama that ends with one character being arrested. Augustine determined that if there was an arrest, there had to be a trial, so she wrote a sequel titled White Jr.’s Trial. Published in 2020, the romance/legal thriller hybrid quickly became a #1 Amazon bestseller in its genre.
When she began writing A Brush with Love, A Brush with the Law, Augustine knew it would be the first book in a series. “I kept imagining more story lines for the different prosecutors who would be the female protagonist’s coworkers,” she says.
The series, Prosecutors–LA, is about fictional L.A. lawyers whose personal lives sometimes collide with their cases. The Suspect is the latest book in the series. About prosecutor Jack Wayne and a seductive woman who runs an international crime ring, the book is available for preorder on May 24. The Suspect came about because, Augustine says, she “wanted to have some fun with a prosecutor falling in love with a defendant in one of his cases.” But as the author began to write the novel, the love interest shifted from a defendant to a suspect in an investigation. “I found that to be a more intriguing story line,” Augustine says. “You get the thrill of the chase, both in the law and in love.”
Augustine describes Jack Wayne as the epitome of the traditional male hero. “He is handsome, well respected by men, highly desirable to women, and always does the right thing,” Augustine says. “His character has been modernized for current times. For example, he is not threatened by a powerful woman. Instead, he finds that trait very attractive.
This, of course, will create a few problems for him when he meets his polar opposite in the form of a powerful, seductive woman who always does the wrong thing.”
Despite being a bestselling author, Augustine still works as a lawyer. But her law career doesn’t serve as fodder for her novels. “I only use my experience practicing law to write about how the attorneys in the fictional cases conduct themselves, be it through argument, case strategy, or cross-examination of a witness,” she says. “This can make the legal drama feel like a real case, even though it’s pure fiction.”
Augustine admits that writing courtroom scenes involving legal jargon takes a lot of work. “I take myself out of lawyer-mode and think about how a layperson would respond to the language,” she says. “Then I drop it down one level and try to ease the readers along to make sure I don’t lose them. All it really takes is a little extra explanation, either through narration or character dialogue.”
Asked if she finds it difficult to intertwine hot personal passion with heated courtroom drama, Augustine says: "Not at all. Like any good drama, there is a time for love and a time for war."
And, Augustine says, she never inflates the law for dramatic purposes. “I usually stay pretty accurate, because the law itself is intriguing enough,” she says. “For example, in White Jr.’s Trial, there is a pretrial hearing over whether certain evidence should be admissible at trial. In that scene, the prosecutor and defense attorney present their arguments over how a real-life appellate decision applies to the case. Each attorney accurately states the law but presents vastly different arguments, and readers will have vastly different reactions to what they believe is fair and whose arguments should prevail. There is no need for me to deviate from real-life law in that scene.”
Augustine’s fourth book in Prosecutors– LA, The French Art Heist, publishes this fall. “This series will go on beyond the four books I’ve already written, because I keep feeling this nagging pressure from Katelyn Kruz and Sam Chapman—two supporting characters from White Jr.’s Trial—to give them each lead roles in their own books,” Augustine says. “That’s the fun of this series. There will always be another case and more personal drama.”