The Cost of Happiness: A Contemporary Romance

The Cost of Happiness

Former lawyer Magdalen Braden writes legal romances set in Philadelphia.

Book 2 of The Blackjack Quartet is a Cinderella story set in a Philly law firm filled with dark corners and scheming rivals …

Read now: Amazon | B & N

Meghan Mattson’s chances for a stellar law career evaporate when her con-artist mother steals her identity. Forced to quit law school, Meghan keeps her history a secret and works as a paralegal at a top Philadelphia law firm, where everyone on the Complex Litigation team resents her.

Everyone, that is, except the new team leader. Dan Howard, fresh from the US Attorney’s office, knows that Meghan was at the top of her law school class. He doesn’t care that she’s a paralegal … what matters is her first-class legal mind. He insists she work on the big class-action lawsuit that would land his first client. All he has to do is keep his attention on the case and off his oh-so-sexy paralegal.

As Dan and Meghan tackle the tricky case, their mutual attraction heats up in the office and the bedroom. Rivals inside the law firm want them to fail. Secrets from the past threaten their relationship. Will their office romance have a fairy-tale ending? Or will their enemies cost them their chance at happiness?


  • The Best of 2013 at Heroes and Heartbreakers: 2013 had me all over the map in terms of favorite books but they had something in common, the magic of being seen and loved for who we are …


Meghan only needed a single meeting to be shown her new place in the firm.

The Complex Litigation Group met every Monday morning at ten-thirty, right after the litigation lawyers’ meeting. The first Monday, Meghan got to the conference room before everyone else and sat far from the door, two seats up from the end of the table. The lawyers trickled in slowly, summer associates being the promptest, then junior associates, senior associates, and junior partners. Last of all, the senior partner rushed in, still tapping away on a BlackBerry.

Meghan had her pad out, her notes on the cases in a folder, a pen in her hand and her head down. She could tell, though, that she was causing some consternation. She glanced up to see one of the mid-level associates frowning at her. They stared at each other before Meghan got it—she was in his seat. Then Meghan noticed the empty seat diagonally opposite hers. Near the hall and…ah, yes, that was the point. It was closest to the phone on the credenza. That was where the lowly paralegal should sit, ready to fetch something or answer the phone so none of the lawyers needed to.

Got it. Won’t make that mistake again.

At the second meeting, Meghan again arrived first. She sat in the correct seat and was completely ignored. When Georgia Moran announced she was leaving the Complex Litigation Group and pointedly told Vicky Womack to coordinate with Meghan to help the new guy settle in, Meghan thought she detected a slight sneer on Vicky’s perfectly groomed lips. Otherwise, Vicky gave no indication she knew or cared who Meghan was.

Meghan ducked her head so no one could see her smile. It was like there was an ironclad rule—ignore the phony paralegal. The lawyers noticed her only when there was work for her to do. The other paralegals ignored her because she wasn’t a proper paralegal. The secretaries ignored her because she was neither a paralegal nor a lawyer.

Welcome to Fergusson & Leith, Philly’s number two law firm. Where a quasi-paralegal was better than a mailroom clerk, but not by much.

Read now: Amazon | B & N