I've been on a
small huge contemporary binge lately. I usually steer away from this genre, but when I'm in the mood for it, I devour it like no tomorrow. Thus, as you can see, you're getting a flood of romance/contemporary novels in the upcoming weeks even though Valentine's Day is FAR away. I really don't know how to review romances, so any/all feedback would be great! :)
Title: Someone Like You (FBI/US Attorney, #1)
Author: Julie James
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career. Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…
Julie James is easily one of the most well-known authors of chick-flick/contemporary novels, so when I went into Something About You, I was expecting a ton of laughs, a good romance, and had just a tiny seed of doubt in my mind, wondering whether the novel would live up to all the hype. Well, it did. Goodness, did Something About You deliver!
I think what makes this novel such a hit, at least with me, is the joint collaboration of a steamy, sweet, and compelling romance along with an intriguing murder mystery. When we are first introduced to Cameron, the lawyer who is the protagonist of our tale, it's impossible not to fall in love with her endearing voice. Not only is she hilarious, snarky, and full of sass, but her close friendships define her and she truly came alive as the novel progressed.
Yet, while Cameron was a heroine I loved, I couldn't help but fall for Jack - hard. I don't know why, but there's something about a rugged guy with just the perfect amount of stubble that is irresistable. Now, not all guys can pull it off, but the Jack in my mind definitely can! ;) Jack is an interested character, one whose past has been tough and molded him into a solitary individual, yet one who is deeply caring beneath that taciturn exterior. Jack and Cameron have a past that neither of them is particularly fond of, but the undercurrent of chemistry and tension between them is undeniable. I adored their witty banter and their slow road to romance was excellently written. For something that starts out as a purely physical attraction, it definitely turns into something infinitely deeper which I loved. Nevertheless, Something Like You isn't a perfect novel. It has its cliche moments, but most disappointingly, the murderer is revealed to us at around 25%. While this method worked perfectly in Libba Bray's The Diviners, I would have liked a little more of "the guessing game" before the reader found out about the murderer. Overall though, this tactic definitely worked well into the plot and the collaboration of the mystery and romance was seamlessly woven. With just one novel, Julie James has definitely earned a fan in me and if her other books are anything like this one, I can admit that the hype surrounding her novels is truly well-deserved.
Title: A Lot Like Love (FBI/US Attorney, #2)
Author: Julie James
Rating: 2 Stars
The FBI wants her cooperation. As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city's top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there's only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother's release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau. Agent McCall just wants her. As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never get personal. This "date" with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment— one they're both determined to pull off even if they can't be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick's investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they're a couple, and what starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more.You’d think that after reading and loving one Julie James novel, I’d enjoy the other just as much, but unfortunately, that simply wasn’t the case. A Lot Like Love follows a different storyline from Someone Like You, one just as intriguing, mysterious, and crime-filled, but unfortunately, its characters fell flat for me.
It is evident, even from my second Julie James novel, that the woman follows a formulaic plan – one that evidently works. We have Nick, our standard rugged, handsome, and utterly sexy FBI agent who is both dangerous and appealing at the same time. We have Jordan, a rich, beautiful, and utterly captivating woman who is sassy and becomes easily riled by Nick. Thus, we have our basic set-up for any Julie James love story. Yet, somehow, I wasn’t won over by this magical formula this time. With Someone Like You, not only was the romance a slow-burner, but it was one where the personalities of the characters were so easily distinguishable. I felt as if I knew Cameron and Jack intimately as people before I knew them as a couple but somehow, that simply wasn’t the case in this scenario. I felt as if I barely knew Nick or Jordan, let alone why they were constantly at each other throats. Furthermore, the chemistry in this one seemed to sizzle and fade away for me.
Ultimately, I think I may be a black sheep for this novel. Julie James is still an author I am pining to read more of as I adored Someone Like You, but it seems as if my enjoyment of her novels is dependant on her character development – as it is with most books I read. Thus, I will hopefully have more success with her romantic novels outside of the FBI Series. Nevertheless, A Lot Like Love, was certainly fun and had the perfect series of elements to make a romantic novel sure to make women swoon everywhere – I just wasn’t one of them.
Title: About That Night (FBI/US Attorney, #3)
Author: Julie James
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him. Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case — but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants — and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten...
After my disappointments with A Lot Like Love, I took a break from James’ FBI/Attorney Series and tackled both of Julie James’ stand-alone romances. In all honesty, I feel really bad for this book and its characters – it isn’t easy to follow-up a couple like J.D. and Payton from Practice Makes Perfect, my previous Julie James read, so really, I would have probably enjoyed this book a lot more if I hadn’t read it after what is, in my opinion at least, James’ best work. Yet, About The Night reminded me again of why I love the steamy lawyer/criminal/FBI agent pairings that James usually writes about, at least in this particular series, and in my eyes, it was a definite improvement from the last installment.
About That Night is really, at the core of it, the most cliché of all James’ romances. Or second-most cliché after The Sexiest Man Alive. Either way, it has a fairly predictable plot and after the initial court meetings in the beginning of the novel, our protagonists, Kyle and Rylann, have little to do with law. If anything, About That Night focuses more on their own journey, both in trying to convince themselves that they don’t want to have an emotional relationship with one another as they wind up having just that. Sound familiar? It is, but yet, it’s a formula that never fails to work.