I received this book for free from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Thing About Love by Julie James
Published by Berkley on April 18th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: the Publisher via NetGalley
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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. . .
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this one because I haven’t read any books by Julie James before but I was very pleasantly surprised by this! It read almost like a mash-up of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne because the two main characters are not on great terms at the start of the book and Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis because the characters have a connected past that matters to the current plot and really gave us a good background both on the characters individually and how they are together. I loved it!
I think the thing I liked most about this book was seeing the development of the relationship between Jessica and John. The book starts in the present time with both John and Jessica having just come out of long-term relationships and they are both ending up back in the Chicago FBI offices. But as the book progresses, we get memories of their time together in training at the Academy. The fun part is that we get to see these scenes over the course of the book and we get to see them from both perspectives. So we really get to see why they felt certain ways about each other back during training and how that affects how they feel about each other now. And as time goes on, they realize their stories and memories might be a little different and maybe they didn’t fully understand each other. And we get to see how their feelings for each other change as they really get to know each other now during their joint undercover case. And I really loved how the author put the memories from each POV right in the perfect spots to give the readers just the right amount of info they needed to feel the right things at the right times and learn just as much as they needed to really appreciate how the characters relationship was changing and how their different perspectives from the same moment really affected how they saw each other. It was really well done!
I also really loved both of the main characters and that while they didn’t necessarily come right out with their feelings when they first figured them out, they didn’t play a bunch of games or have a bunch of back and forths that sometimes happen in these kinds of contemporary romances. They had a plan and a case they were working and they stuck to what they agreed upon even while they were getting to know each other and developing feelings for each other. The pacing for the plot and the romance worked really well and I liked that we got to see the chemistry between the two characters really fully develop over time as they got to know and understand each other. There was attraction there in the beginning but as a reader you could really feel their connection deepening as the book goes on. And when you’re reading a romance, that’s all you really want.
If you’re a fan of hate to love romances, I think you should give this one a try. I also liked the idea that these characters were equals. And while John gave on the appearance of an alpha male, he really respected Jessica and how hard she worked and how great she was at her job. He was protective of her but not in a way that actually kept her from doing her job. He never once pulled the alpha male moves on her and I loved that he respected her like that. So definitely give this one a try if you get tired of the “heroes” always trying to come in and take over for the women. Because John isn’t like that and it was very refreshing.
I really hope to read more Julie James books soon! If you’ve read her and love her books too, let me know which ones are your favorites!