Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Thing About Love by Julie James

Title: The Thing About Love
Author: Julie James
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Main Characters: Jessica and John
Release Date: April 2017
Publisher:  Berkley
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .

My Review:
Flat out...I really enjoy Julie James' stories. Her heroines are tough and sassy. Her heroes are badass and alpha and her story lines are usually fun and witty. But this one didn't quite have the umph that I expect from a Julie James novel. And honestly I was trying to analyze exactly why this morning. The dialogue wasn't quite so snappy, despite the hero's constant need to quip about Jessica's saucy attitude. (Honestly by the end, it kind of felt like the author was adding that in to make it feel more snappy than it truly was...and that was kind of a bummer...and distracting.)

But despite all that...this book was good. Just not quite as my very high expectations for a Julie James book. 

But there is a lot of good to be found in this story. The hero and the heroine have a history, but it's a history fraught with contention. They were the two highest performers while qualifying for the FBI at Quantico. As a result, they were constantly trying to one-up one another. For Jessica, this was especially difficult. As one of only two females, she had to perform up to standard even more so than her male counterparts. And at 5'3" she didn't hold much competition physically against John who was 6'4". As a result, they left the academy both pretty much hating the other. 

So, when they become partners in an undercover operation, things aren't quite smooth sailing. Also, they're both coming off hard break-ups and they are both really attractive people attracted to one another. But they're undercover in Florida as high-powered, corporate investors. As such, the ambience was fun. I liked Jessica's tradition of a glass of wine and piece of cake after a long day undercover (she's my kind of girl). Their banter about the core of their jobs was fun. Jessica works white collar; John works in the more violent crimes area (and I can't remember exactly what that was off the top of my head right now). 

I liked the conflict about how there is no easy resolution. Even if the two can resolve their feelings for one another, they are going different places. It kept me reading and wondering how in the world this could ever all get sorted. I love it when I get close to the end of a book and I'm still wondering. That's a great twist that the author pulled off. 

So a bit of a mixed review, but I'll be honest...that's mainly because Julie James has set such a high bar for her writing, not anything truly against this book. It was a fun read. Lots of fun, sexy times, with a bit of FBI intrigue and danger added in just to keep it exciting. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”
In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.
 “Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”
“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”
There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”
The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.
They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.
As he knew well.
“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”
Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.
“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.
Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.
She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.
“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”
 “’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”
She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”
Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”
He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.
Enough to get the jump on you.
Not for long, sweetheart.
Time for him to get cracking on that case file.

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