Julie James is on my auto-buy list now. I had a friend say it’s surprising how much I like these books because they seem more fluffy than what I usually go for. Tsk, people. Sometimes I need the light and fluffy. I like to mix it up. (Although I don’t necessarily consider these books fluffy).
The Premise: FBI agent Nick McCall is used to going undercover and pretending to be someone else for months at a time, but his latest assignment starts off short and simple. He has to pretend to be the date of billionaire heiress and wine store owner Jordan Rhodes at the annual wine tasting and fundraiser at Bordeaux restaurant. All he needs to do is plant a few bugs in the office of Bordeaux’s owner and suspected mob money launderer, Xander Eckhart, and that will be that. Unfortunately, an unforeseen circumstance turns a one day job into one with no end in sight.
Read an Excerpt of A Lot Like Love here
My Thoughts: The plot is in the same ballpark as James’ earlier book, Something About You (which I reviewed here: ), we watch as an FBI agent falls in love with the woman he’s supposed to protect. This was a straightforward contemporary suspense romance: boy meets girl; there’s some friction and banter, but sparks fly; bad guy gets in the way; love prevails. It’s not a overly complex plot, but it’s oh so much fun. A Lot Like Love reads like a nice romantic comedy that is perfect for a rainy day.
This story begins with Nick finishing up another long stint undercover and ready to spend a few days off to visit his family, when he’s called in by his boss to consult on another case. An agent new to the undercover business needs Nick as backup as he takes heiress Jordan Rhodes to the exclusive, 5000 dollar a head charity fundraiser at Bordeaux. Jordan is well known within Chicago because of her very rich, billionaire father, not to mention her infamous twin brother who is in jail for a computer-related crime. Nick expects a spoiled rich girl, but Jordan really doesn’t live off her father’s money — she makes her own money via her wine store. I loved that Jordan is a business owner and her knowledge of fine wine is a large part of the book (she may not be a lawyer like past Julie James heroines, but her job is still very important to the story). When Nick first meets Jordan, he has his initial assumptions, and neither is happy that Nick has to replace the original agent assigned to be her date. Nick learns very quickly though that Jordan is not a snob. I liked that Jordan really is unpretentious. Her friends aren’t all wealthy socialites and she owns a wine shop because she loves wine, not for the prestige. She treats wine as something she wants people to feel comfortable with and to try, and that she’s geeky about, not as some way to flaunt her wealth and privilege. It was fascinating as a non-wine expert to read about it, and It was nicely done how Jordan’s open approach was so different from Eckhart’s: he wanted to show off, and it is a competition to him. His snobbery extends to the rest of his character, and this is shown in the book in many little ways.
The romance in A Lot Like Love was just right. Sweet, but not too sweet, steamy (there is sex), but not too steamy. And there’s plenty of sarcasm from everyone which adds a nice touch of humor to the romance. Nick is a guy through and through, and Jordan brings out an introspective side of him that he isn’t used to. Jordan is perfect for him because she’s just as unused to saying how she feels. In her family, they deal with things through sarcastic humor. So when Nick and Jordan are together, they are on the same sort of wavelength. Nick calls her Rhodes, and Jordan tries to expand his comfort zone. I liked that they both realize how they feel and it’s not hard for them to be honest with themselves (being honest with each other is another story). They had their bumps but they were relatively easily resolved along with the investigation.
I also liked the other relationships in this book. Jordan had good relationships with her store assistant, Martin and with her twin brother. She also has a tight-knit set of friends. Although they were on the page too quickly for me to get individual impressions of them, I could tell that they were important to Jordan. Nick too has family that he is close to, and his relationships with his brothers and with the guys at the FBI are full of the friendly ribbing that Jordan gives her brother. It was also nice to see some familiar characters from Something About You show up here, and bonus points for a couple of Pride and Prejudice references (as well as Lost and Dancing with the Stars).
Overall: I liked this one just about as much as I liked Something About You. They’re both romantic suspense, is a subgenre I don’t really go for, and I prefer her straight contemporaries without the suspense plots, but Julie James writes comfort food for my soul, and that trumps my romance reading preferences. It’s an uncomplicated story, but it hits the spot. A Lot Like Love was the right read for me this past rainy weekend.
I’m already looking forward to her fifth book, which will have Jordan’s twin brother, Kyle, as its hero, and has been tentatively titled About That Night (via trueromance).
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Chachic’s Book Nook – positive
Dear Author – B
Babbling About Books, and More – A
Smexy Books (guest post) – A
The Book Binge – A
The Book Smugglers – 7 (Very Good)
I really liked this one too…I haven’t read Something About You although I read her first two. This one was better in my opinion. You are right – perfect amount of romance, humor – and the sarcasm is my favorite 🙂
And I can’t wait for Kyle’s book!!
I think you will like Something About You then! Seems to be the group that likes the FBI books better and the group that likes her straight contemps without suspense better. 🙂
The sarcasm is right on. Really fits with my sense of humor so I liked it.
Julie James writes comfort food for my soul -> Yep, same here! I keep wanting to look for books similar to her writing but so far, I haven’t found any. Jordan’s character made me want to be a wine drinker even though I don’t know anything about wine.
I asked someone on twitter today who I consider to be a romance expert, and she said “robin kaye, rachel gibson., christie ridgway, jill shalvis , louisa edwards, jenny cruisie, …really depends but those are my first thoughts.” — soooo, we must dive in and try them!
The wine stuff reminds me also of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. Lots of wine talk in that one and I felt like I needed to jot down the wines. I think the author (Deborah Harkness) has a wine blog.
*back from googling*. Yep, she has http://goodwineunder20.blogspot.com/ and also blogs at http://89project.blogspot.com/
“Tsk, people.” Lol. I’m reading this now and quite enjoying it. I just need James’ humor sometimes, though I think Practice Makes Perfect will always be my fav. Hilarious stuff.
That’s right! Tsk.
I feel the same. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT is my favorite followed by JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. Or is it the other way around? Well, I love those two. The FBI ones I like very much but not in the same way, but I’ve been getting comments from people who love the FBI ones best. So there are two classes of Julie James fans.
Definitely seems to be the case. I prefer the comedies as well. But this one was delightful.
Pretty sure JtSMA is my fave. Thought PMP was after reading them both for the first time. Then I re-read them both and . . . well, guess I’m a sucker for the movie star.
I’m having a very hard time deciding whether PMP or JtSMA was my fave. Maybe a reread is in order.
Dying to read the next one because it seems like it could be a comedy again? Unless there’s a female FBI agent as the heroine. I love geeky heroes.
ive found julie james’ books make great “first romance” reads to my non-romance-novel-reading friends. Practice Makes Perfect converted TWO friends over to the lusty reading side! esp since that one didn’t have any full blown lusty scenes on page. im glad to hear you enjoyed her newest, despite some noted similarities to the previous book, that you still liked it is a great sign!
This is true. These books are gateway romance crack.
A LOT LIKE LOVE was a bit lustier than previous books. There is a lusty scene or two. Have you read it yet? You must. I say make use of a 40% off Borders coupon so you can get around the book ban. *nods*.
HA! i havent yet, but it is on my wish list, i like your strategy *sly wink*
So glad to see you enjoyed this one! I hope to pick up a copy this weekend (and get to it as soon as I finish River Marked).
I need to get my hands on RIVER MARKED. Trying to get the UK edition because it’s paperback and I’m weird with my “my collection must look the same!!!!” compulsion.