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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James (Review + Excerpt)

I still need to catch up on two of the books in this series but Julie James is definitely one of my favorite authors. Today is release day for The Thing About Love and I've got a nice little excerpt and my review.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 18, 2017

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

For both of them, being paired with an old 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 together—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 lot more complicated...

What’s it About? FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd shared an antagonistic rivalry during their training days at Quantico that ended with them glad to go their separate ways. Six years later though John and Jessica are face to face again, this time as partners in an undercover assignment. The timing couldn’t be worse for both of them though. John is newly single after finding his girlfriend in bed with someone else and Jessica’s divorce from a Hollywood producer is still fresh.

Overall reaction to the story? Julie James has a knack for writing a hot romance with an intriguing plot and The Thing About Love is no exception. While I did notice that the romance kind of took a back seat to the undercover investigation, the book was no less entertaining. Energetic, witty, and fun, The Thing About Love has what it takes to be another fan favorite all while appealing to new readers as well.

Describe the hero in five words: Dedicated. Strong. Intelligent. Loyal. Kind. Fun.
Did you like him? Yes.
Why? There’s something attractive about a man who can work with a woman as an equal and that was John. Sure, he had moments of wanting to protect Jessica but he never turned into a caveman, making Jessica the little lady. He respected her, her skills, and trusted her as his partner. That was something super awesome about this guy. John was just a charming guy with a good sense of humor. I loved how he would kind of poke at Jessica now and again just to get a reaction out of her. He was never cruel about it, even when he was under the impression that Jessica was cold hearted and mean.

Describe the heroine in five words: Strong. Determined. Sassy. Intelligent. Caring.
Did you like her? Yes.
Why? Jessica took the bull by the horns and worked hard in a field that was dominated by men and that was the #1 thing I loved about her. She didn’t oversell her femininity nor did she try to be more masculine just to fit in or to succeed. She did it on her own terms with hard work and dedication. It didn’t mean she was a robot either, she was easy to relate to and even easier to like. She went toe to toe with John and didn’t back down or revert to a silly little girl in his presence. She was an equal to him and I loved that she didn’t always defer to him during their work because he was a man. She knew her job and contributed as a partner. Definitely not a damsel in distress.

Let’s talk about the romance: John and Jessica had an initial antagonism that stemmed from their training days that really worked for building the sexual tension between them but what I really liked about that antagonism is that it was kept OUT of their job. These two didn’t get petty and unprofessional while on the job and I’m so glad because it made them more believable as two of the best undercover agents. John and Jessica were logical characters as well which again goes with them being the best at their jobs. When things didn’t add up to what they initially believed about one another they took the time to figure things out instead of stubbornly holding on to what they “knew” to be right. The gradual progression from partners to more was believable as was the chemistry that built up throughout the story. They made a great couple and an even better team.

How about that supporting cast? I recognized a few names here and there from previous books in the series but for the most part it’s just John and Jessica doing their job and overcoming their misunderstandings of their time in training together. I did like the few scenes where John and Jessica were with their respective families, it showed who they were away from work and each other.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. John and Jessica were the perfect example of there being three sides to every story: Yours, Theirs, and the Truth.

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     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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