About That Night by Julie James

Based on my love of Julie James’ first two books, Practice Makes Perfect and Just the Sexiest Man Alive, I’ve been continue to buy her books whenever a new one comes out.
 

About That Night
Julie James

The Premise: Rylann Pierce and Kyle Rhodes met in a college bar while they were both pursuing advanced degrees (she for law, he for a Ph.D. in Computer Science). They shared a walk home and a good night kiss, but life got in the way of anything more. That was it, until nine years later when their paths crossed again. Just starting her new job as an assistant U.S attorney in Chicago, Rylann is surprised to discover that her first assignment involves a motion to reduce Kyle’s sentence. Kyle, an heir to a billion dollar empire is now the infamous Twitter Terrorist who shut down the site for two days.
 
My Thoughts: About That Night is the third book in Julie James’ FBI/US Attorney series. The first book, Something About You (reviewed here: https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg) focuses on Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde and Special Agent Jack Pallas, and the second book, A Lot Like Love (reviewed here:  https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg) focuses on wine store owner and heiress Jordan Rhodes and FBI agent Nick McCall. Cameron (book 1) is Rylann’s boss, and Jordan (book 2) is Kyle’s twin sister – but don’t let this discourage you from starting with any of the books in the series. The cameos from other characters aren’t gratuitous because they have real relationships with the main couple, but that doesn’t mean you need to know their backstories to understand what’s going on in About That Night.
 
What you may want to know before reading About That Night is that this book is a little bit different than the previous two in that there is not really a suspense plot. This makes sense – Kyle is a computer guy and businessman who made a huge mistake in bringing down a website used by millions. He’s not a FBI agent whose job it is to protect the heroine. So instead of a villain somewhere pushing our couple together, this book has a more straightforward contemporary romance plot. Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl out on a date. Boy doesn’t show up. Nine years later, Boy is thrown in prison for hacking Twitter, and Girl shows up at his motion to reduce his sentence…
 
The real conflict in the story is about who Rylann and Kyle are. Rylann is more of the Good Girl – she has a six-year plan, she knows what she wants to do, and she follows the rules and works her butt off to get what she wants. While Kyle is a computer whiz kid, and thus a bright guy, he’s also more impulsive and less sure about his direction in life. He’s sort of a Bad Boy what with his reputation with women and being an heir to a billion dollar empire. When she first sets eyes on him at a college bar, Rylann pegs him as more trouble than he’s worth, but he makes her realize that he’s more than he first appears to be. Unfortunately, circumstances prevent the two from getting to know each past that night. Fast forward nine years and the spark is still there, but Rylann is an assistant U.S attorney. She just started her job. She doesn’t want a tarnished reputation, and that is what she would get if she were to date someone surrounded by controversy like Kyle, not to mention that he’s an ex-con her office prosecuted.
 
Romantic suspense has never been my bag, so I was pleased that About That Night took a different direction and was just straightforward contemporary romance. One caveat: although this had an entertaining, comfort read quality, it was almost too straightforward. What I mean by that is that the conflict level was low. Yes, there is an issue with Rylann’s career versus her interest in Kyle, but this couple are grown-ups and deal with it in a grown-up way. I like this about them – I like characters that are adults and act like it, and Julie James always has characters that care about their responsibilities and careers and are good at what they do. It’s refreshing not to have silly overblown drama, but there is also a feeling like there’s no fire, no feverish need to turn the pages when everyone is so reasonable. Rylann’s conflict of interest was a minor dilemma, and the steamy sex scenes (at three, I think this is the steamiest James book yet) may have added ‘oomph’ for some readers, but threw me. Are these huge issues? Not really. What keeps you hooked instead is the genial writing and just how darn cute and compelling Kyle and Rylann are together. As I was reading, I was happy. It’s only now that I look back do I realize that the book was relatively even-keeled with little drama. How that will go over depends on who you are as a reader.
 
Overall: If you are looking for high drama and strife,  About That Night may not be the book for you. This is a low-frill, straightforward contemporary romance (with a shot of sexytimes) – a good comfort read and a solid Julie James book. While it wasn’t my favorite by this author, it fits right in the middle of the pack on my personal rating scale.
 
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
 
Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook –  positive
Babbling About Books, and More – B+
The Book Pushers – B- and B (Joint review)
Parajunkee’s View – positive
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A Lot Like Love by Julie James

A Lot Like Love
Julie James

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: https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg), 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
 
Other reviews:
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)
 
Book Trailer:

Something About You by Julie James

I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while because Julie James is now on my autobuy list. I won an ARC of this book through sheer luck in logging onto twitter just was @DearAuthor was giving away some copies. See.. twitter isn’t just a time suck.

The Premise: Cameron Lynde is an Assistant U.S. Attorney who decided to give herself a little break by staying overnight at the Peninsula Hotel in San Francisco while she waited for her hardwood floors to be sealed. Unfortunately she has a very bad night when her neighbors in room 1308 engage in a loud sex marathon until 3am. Noises cease for about half an hour and then loud banging and squealing start up again and she calls the front desk. Things get worse when hotel security finds a dead woman in the room and Cameron is the only person to have caught a glimpse of the murderer through her peephole. After that the FBI arrives and Cameron discovers that Jack Pallas is in charge- and he blames her for being disciplined and shipped off to Nebraska three years ago.

Link to excerpt of Something about you

My Thoughts: Julie James’ style of writing has a lot of focus on dialog. It feels like I am reading something that I can picture in my minds eye as a romantic comedy on the big screen, with a lot of banter and cute situations. I had a good couple of chuckles over some of the talks among the men (cops and FBI agents) discussing Cameron’s “Meet-Cute” with Max, her date, or telling Jack that he “glowers”. I think after reading three of her books I trust this author to deliver a contemporary romance of a certain level of writing and she doesn’t disappoint in giving me something that I know I’ll enjoy.

As in her last two books, Practice Makes Perfect and Just the Sexiest Man Alive, the heroines are lawyers and the author writes about the profession with authority. Jack’s job as an FBI agent seems realistic as well although I feel like the author took some liberties with it because I had to suspend my disbelief a couple of times in the book (especially when their relationship became more heated and no one admonished Jack for his behavior). I think the liberties were taken to push the couple closer, and it wasn’t something I thought that jeopardized Cameron’s safety, so I was able to accept it that way.

I think it’s a matter of taste whether you’d prefer this over the more relationship conflicted earlier books. I think I prefer less sexiness in my stories, and this book feels a lot more “sexy” than the other two. There’s more focus on each other’s bodies and in the sexual tension between Jack and Cameron than on the conflict keeping the two apart romantically like in the last two books. I felt like the conflict was lower here because the couple were more concerned about the killer who may be coming for Cameron.

The suspense is a big part of the story. We know early on who the killer is and what his motivations are. Cameron and Jack both do smart things in handling the situation – Cameron listening to the FBI and doing what they tell her, Jack covering all bases in protecting his witness and investigating leads. Despite this, the killer is pretty smart too, and he did some things I found unexpected that made the story more exciting to read. I was particularly impressed by the big finale.

Overall: This is a sexier book with more suspense in it than the last two, and these are things I don’t necessarily prefer in my contemporary romance, but it has the Julie James level of quality and overall I enjoyed it although it’s not my favorite one.

Buy: Amazon | Powells

Other reviews:
Bookbinge – 4.75 out of 5
Babbling about Books and More! – B
The Book Smugglers – 7 (Very Good)
Angieville – positive review:”You can count on a good time with a Julie James book and that’s what I love about them. ”
Dear Author – A-
Tempting Persephone – “There wasn’t really anything I didn’t enjoy about this book.”
Read, React, Review – positive review
Christina Reads – postive review

Best of 2009 and New Year’s Resolution for 2010

I liked looking back last year at 2008 so this year I’m also looking back at 2009. I didn’t make my goal of reading 100 books, but at 79 books I was above last year’s number (77). Anyway, here’s my Best of 2009 list, broken down in the same way I broke down books last year:

The Books that Blew Me Away – This is a very small list, just three books, like last year.  I only put books on the list when a book consumes me.

  • Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliosotti https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (this is technically a 2010 book. Review to come) –https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gif https://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away This list is of books which I’d recommend without reservation and I loved them while reading them. There are more of these this year than last year (5 versus 4!)
  • Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Endless Blue by Wen Spencer https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg

Books I Really Liked/ Keepersthese are also recommended and all have several moments that I loved in them and I think many people will like these books:

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • On the Edge by Ilona Andrews https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Must Love Hellhounds (anthology) Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook, and Charlaine Harris — I liked 2 of the 4 stories a lot https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Heroes at Risk by Moira J. Moore https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Sins & Shadows (Shadows Inquiries) by Lyn Benedict https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • The Stars Down Under by Sandra McDonald https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percey Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • What Happens in London by Julia Quinn https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, Bk 1) by Ann Aguirre https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, Bk 6) by Carrie Vaughn https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Kitty and the Silver Bullet (Kitty Norville, Bk 4) by Carrie Vaughn https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
  • Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville, Bk 3) by Carrie Vaughn https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg

And for my New Year’s Resolution – First I have the usual one which is to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 – 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – 79 books

The second resolution is to make the TBR go down. I was really bad over my Christmas vacation and the TBR is over 190 right now. The plan is that I can’t buy a book unless I read two or more. Let’s hope I have the willpower.

Just The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

I read and enjoyed Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James earlier this month, and I liked it enough to get her other book, Just the Sexiest Man Alive at Borders the weekend before last (40% off Memorial Day coupon!)

The Premise: Just The Sexiest Man Alive also has a lawyer for the heroine – Taylor Donovon is an associate at Gray & Dallas who has been sent to the Los Angeles office for a few months to work on a sexual harassment case for a large client. Everything is going well, until Taylor is asked to do one of the partners a “favor” (which she can’t turn down) – meet with super-mega-movie star Jason Andrews to help him prepare for his part as a lawyer in an upcoming movie. Taylor is unhappy enough that Jason is adding to her already busy schedule, but when Jason blows off their initial meeting he ticks Taylor off with his movie-star attitude. It doesn’t help matters that Jason has been voted People’s Sexiest Man Alive three times and has been linked to a long line of female celebrities. Taylor has just broken off her engagement to her cheating fiance and is wary of womanizers. Jason expects Taylor to be instantly smitten and let him have his way like everyone else does, but when Taylor proves impervious to his charms, it only intrigues Jason more.

Excerpt of Chapter 1

My Thoughts: As with Practice Makes Perfect I think you can tell that someone with experience in the law profession wrote this book – there’s a lot of references that even as a layperson, I felt that James is an author who knew her stuff. And I don’t know if I mentioned it in my review of Practice Makes Perfect (livejournal / vox / wordpress) but I really liked that the heroines in both books were GOOD at their jobs – really good. It wasn’t just an arbitrary career which gets mentioned once or twice then you see the heroine hardly doing any work; it’s a big part of the plot.

The romance here is pretty sweet. Jason is at first a little too cocky and Taylor puts him in his place. As they get to know each other Jason realizes that Taylor isn’t like the usual woman who runs after him. Fame and publicity isn’t what she wants. Taylor, on the other hand, feels attracted to Jason but she’s wary of men who are known players after dealing with her ex-fiance, and she refuses to fall for another man like that. Of course the two keep seeing each other and feelings begin to develop. Pretty soon the press is all aflame with rumors of Jason Andrews’ Mystery Woman.

Taylor’s introduction to Jason’s life is pretty fun –  the paparazzi, and ensuing office gossip, the celebrity parties and Jason’s “people”, but what I really liked was their interactions with their best friends. Jason has his sarcastic best friend, Jeremy, who he’s known since college, and Taylor has her two friends from Chicago, Kate and Valerie. I think my favorite parts involved these secondary characters meeting Jason and Taylor. The scene where Jason tries to butt into the girl-talk about Taylor’s other dates (with another celebrity who made me think of Orlando Bloom as Legolas) was priceless.

Jason does do something mildly stupid in this book (besides starting off on the wrong foot by thinking he can use his star power on Taylor), but it was not enough to turn me off. In this regard I felt I liked him better as a hero than J.D. from Practice Makes Perfect, but he’s not perfect. The way Jason treats women until he meets Taylor was rather jerkish, but somehow he seems pull off not annoying me when I read about it. And whenever he used his charm, it never feels like he’s using others as much as they are delighted to fawn all over him and he lets them.

The ending was quite Hollywood – I can imagine the scene in the end of a romantic comedy, but I was ok with that. The only problem I’d say I have is the cynic in me not really believing a womanizing superstar would be able to settle down, but that’s not the books fault. There is no book that I could read with a famous player and ordinary person falling in love where a small part of me wouldn’t question it. The other thing was Taylor – she’s a size two, never lost a case, amazing at everything – at least she sounded human when she spoke, but the woman is a little mythical sounding.

Overall: A fun book. I enjoyed it and I think this author goes on the auto-buy list, both this book and Practice Makes Perfect were satisfying enough that I trust the author to keep at that level. There is not a lot of sex in this book: most of it is relationship buildup, which I personally prefer in my romance, so I was happy. I recommend this for those in the mood for an enjoyable contemporary romance.

Other reviews:

Gossamer Obsessions (gave it an A). She also has a related post about Sex In Romance (which I found I agreed with!)
The Book Binge (4.25 out of 5)
Dear Author (gave it a B-)
Katiebabs (B+) & The Book Smugglers (7 – very good) Power Puff review

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

I’ve heard a good things online about Julie James so when jmc_bookrelated offered me a copy of Practice Made Perfect (thank you), I jumped at the chance to read it, especially since I wasn’t seeing this book in my library system or in my closest bookstore (why that is I have no idea, both her books have great buzz online). Anyway, this one jumped to the head of the TBR because I’ve had a bad month and needed a good HEA.

Premise: Payton Kendall and  J. D. Jameson are associates at the prestigious Chicago law firm. Both are highly ambitious lawyers who are good at their jobs and have been working their butts off for eight years towards the same goal: becoming partner. Everything seems on track for them until they discover that the firm is planning to make only ONE of them partner this year. J.D and Payton have quietly had an ongoing feud, but they’ve never been in direct competition before. To make matters worse, Payton and J.D. actually have to work together for the first time for a very important new client.

This is a classic tale of opposites attracting – Payton is a vegetarian liberal feminist raised by an uber-hippie mom and J.D. is a privileged conservative with a country club membership with rich, snooty parents. Payton can’t really remember why they’ve been fighting all this time, she just knows she must put J.D. down a peg or two. She’s very aware that J.D. fits easily into the good-ole-boys club with his country club membership and ability to talk sports with the other men in the office, while she has to work harder to have the same repartee with senior partners – most of whom are men. J.D. on the other hand believes Payton has an edge as a women – reverse discrimination means she will move forward just because having women in higher positions looks good to the firm.

Excerpt of the book

My thoughts: OK we all know it’s totally bunkus what J.D. is going on about regarding Payton having an edge as a woman! Pah, and yet, with such things coming out of his mouth, he still worked for me as a hero because I just felt like he was just a big idiot for much of the book (especially when it comes to Payton – he’s just irrational), not truly an asshole. He didn’t really seem to cross the line into being a bad guy until something he did long ago to Payton gets revealed. That was really awful, but he made it worse because when Payton wants to know why he did it (she actually gave him a chance to explain), his first explanation really wasn’t one. I thought his explanation to his best friend was what Payton deserved, not what she eventually got (rushed and last possible moment).

So that was the biggest flaw for me in this book – the hero’s quite worthy apology (plus wait till you find out why they’ve been fighting all this time – another classic example of idiocy). But until that point I really liked both characters. There is an obvious chemistry between the two and I had a really good time reading about them and their slow realization about how they’ve really felt about each other for the past eight years. There is very little sex in this book – most of it relies just on their verbal dances and interactions with lots of sexual tension, though both of them are clueless/in denial about this for most of the book. I really like books like that – a slow buildup between two characters, and a realistic timeline before they hit the sheets (if anyone has other recs of such kinds of books, please comment, I will love you).

Julie James has a background as a lawyer before becoming a writer and it shows in the writing. Despite not knowing much about practicing law myself, I noticed a lot of details that seemed the kind of thing only a lawyer would know and it added a layer of believability to the day to day aspects of the story.

Overall: Really good read – loved the competition between these two characters and their inner dialogs. The writing is top notch – smart and humorous. I’m a fan and will have to go find Just the Sexiest Man Alive (James’ debut novel). I found myself wishing I could read faster, I just wanted to know what happens next. But – I was left with a nagging feeling because after that tallying all the things Payton and J.D did,  J.D. was by far the worse person, yet his explanation was a little late and a little rushed, and in that aspect this book doesn’t quite satisfy.  This was the only fly in my ointment however, and I think I’d reread other parts of the book.

Reviews elsewhere:

Racy Romance Reviews (with a discussion about feminists and gender politics in romance novels)