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Review: About That Night

By Julie James. FBI #3. Grade: B+

The numerous reviews on this website are testament to the fact that while I love contemporary romance novels, their writers leave something to be desired. Aside from SEP and Crusie, there are very few others who have NOT confused lust with HEA, and sex scenes with romance. Julie James is one of them. I have loved all of her books and About That Night was one of my most anticipated novels of 2012.

I had very high hopes with this one. With every novel she released, my respect for her writing grew and I was sure ATN was going to top even my all-time-favourite Something About You. There is no better way of saying it, so I’ll lay it down: it didn’t. No, not even close.


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…

We first met in Nick and Jordan’s story, A Lot Like Love as Jordan’s computer geek brother who is thrown into prison for hacking into Twitter and shutting it down when his girlfriend broke up with him on the micro-blogging website by posting a video of herself in the hot tub with a movie star (I lost my heart there and then).

Because the U.S. Attorney office of Chicago was run by an asshole at that time, they decided to go for Kyle just because he was a rich heir. They labelled him the  ”Twitter Terrorist” and basically used him to get some free publicity. But his eighteen months’ sentence is cut short by the events in A Lot Like Love, and when Kyle comes out of prison, there is no love lost between him and the U.S. Attorney’s office.

AUSA (Assistant U.S. Attorney) Cade Morgan was the front-runner who slung so much mud on Kyle, but when the time comes for him to stand in front of the court for his release, instead of Cade, Rylann (Ri-linn) makes an appearance. Now, Kyle and Rylann have history. They met nine years ago in a bar and were instantly smitten. They had planned to meet for a date the next day, but Kyle’s mother died and he moved to Chicago to help his father handle the business. So when they meet again, there are definitely sparks flying.

When Kyle is released, it looks like their professional association has come to an end, but another case crops up where Kyle is a witness and Rylann is the prosecuting attorney. An ex-con and a good-girl prosecuting attorneys don’t mix well, or so they tell themselves. The minute the coast is clear and there are no work conflicts, they stop denying the attraction. Their scenes together are just – HOT.  Julie James’ hottest yet, actually.

The first half of the book has their half-hour meeting in the bar and covers Kyle’s relationship with Daniela (the infamous ex), Rylann’s relationship with her ex, her work, his work, his mother’s death and how he dealt with it, how he got thrown into prison and how he was released, and more of Rylann’s work. As you might have guessed, their jobs are not pieces of background info, but a means for Miss James to reveal things of significance about who her characters are.

Kyle is a good, intelligent man, who doesn’t come off as an arrogant asshole. He knows he has done a stupid thing, and he faces the consequences with head held high. He knows that there will be people who high-five him or insult him. He takes that as a matter-of-fact.

While all of this made for interesting reading and was replete with the author’s characteristic saucy banter and snazzy writing, there were times I wondered when the romance would begin.

Sitting eight rows back, Kyle watched as two men wearing standard issue government suits – clearly FBI agents – boarded the plane and handed over a document to the pilot.
“Yep, that would be me,” Kyle said, grabbing his backpack from underneath the seat in front of him.
The elderly Hispanic man sitting next to him lowered his voice to a whisper. “Drugs?”
“Twitter,” Kyle whispered back.

The best friend banter and the family banter was hilarious to read. Jack and Nick’s cameo was also lovely.

Slowly, the romance picks up. At first, it was supposed to be a one night stand (I hate relationships that begin with them, call me old fashioned) because of their less than stellar previous attempts at relationships. But both can’t get enough of each other, and so they start dating. Much of it is done in secret, though, because Rylann is new to the Chicago office and trying to make a good impression, which will be questioned if she is found dating an ex-con.

Okay, whatever. Maybe he was trying to impress Rylann a little. “You don’t think it’s too much? Like I’m trying too hard?”

Jordan put her hand over her heart again. “Oh. It’s like watching Bambi take his first steps.”

I thought the sexual tension was barely explored. The conflict was weak, and they fell into bed pretty quickly in their relationship (but after more than midway through the book). Unlike the previous books, it failed to keep me on tenterhooks, maybe because of the lack of suspense surrounding the leading lady…or I don’t know. I can’t pin-point exactly what it is it that I didn’t like in this book. It is a good, solid read but not the kind that makes you want to come back to it again and again.

I enjoyed it but I enjoyed the previous ones more.

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Spotlight: About That Night

Okay, so it’s that time of the year. Because Christmas is here early. Julie James’ fans, who have been dying to read Kyle’s story, who first appeared in “A LOT LIKE LOVE” as the beautiful Jordan’s brother is getting a story of his own.


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…

The book releases on 3rd April 2012, and to celebrate the release, the author has a mega-giveaway open HERE.

Okay, back to the topic at hand. For new comers, let me explain what we do in the Spotlight feature. We analyze the success of the book on the basis of its pre-release publicity, cover, blurb and excerpts.

The author’s covers have never been tame, and why stop now? This one is again explosive (no pun intended but did you see the, uh, tightness of Kyle’s pants?). Rylann’s suit is gorgeous and the shades of blue and grey provide a perfect setting.

Did you notice a peculiarity in this cover? Unlike other covers with a couple pasted on the front, this one is not kissing, and not even smiling. All you see this crackling awareness between them, which is holding them apart and inexorably pulling them together at the same time. I think it perfectly captures the essence of all her other books where the protagonists are attracted to each other much against their wills.

While there is something to be said for brawn, I personally prefer my heroes a little geeky. And the glimpse of Kyle in ALLL piqued my curiosity. The man hacked Twitter because of a girl, for Christ’s sake. Factor in Julie James’ brand of personal humour and descriptive writing style, and you have a potential bestseller in your hands. What else do you need? Ah, yes. What one needs is to read the book itself.

What are you waiting for? Go, pre-order your copy.

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Review: A Lot Like Love

By Julie James. Grade: B+

Julie James never manages to diappoint her readers and this time with her fourth book A Lot Like Love she has won over many more hearts.
Although people think that this time Ms. James has tried something new but I think the difference was just that the female protagonist wasn’t a lawyer. Most of her books – most of the romance novels, for that matter – follow the same tune, but how their authors deliver make all the difference.

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.

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. . .

The first thing I like about her books are the characters. In A Lot Like Love, the hero, Nick McCall is a hot, sexy and a reserved FBI agent who doesn’t do love, wants to attend his mother’s sixtieth birthday when he gets caught in another assissgnment with his partner Huxley. For Huxley, it is his first undercover project and he is supposed to be Jordon’s date to that exclusive party. But Nick’s plans get screwed when flu gets involved in this situation.
That’s when Jordon gets a tall, dark and smoldering date. And to top it all, if a pretend date wasn’t enough, Nick now has to pretend to be her lover when he realizes that the criminal he has been after has hots for Jordon.

Jordan, too, is a pretty believable character. She is the daughter of a billionaire dad and drives a Maserati, but instead of living off his money, she decides to strike out on her own, and voila, is a pretty successful businesswoman.
As the story proceeds and Nick and Jordan come closer, Nick discovers that Jordon is not the rich-spoiled heiress as Nick’d first assumed but a smart, beautiful and lovable person. Although Nich refuses to accept it, he develops a soft corner for Jordon in his heart.

I loved the relationship between Jordon and Nick. It wasn’t the love-at- first-sight thing or the heroine falls head-over heels in love with the hero just because he is a piece of eye-candy. Ms. James creates very smart, sensible and appealing heroines which I admire.
Not only the main characters but the secondary characters are also lovable. I loved Kyle (Jordon’s brother) because he was so adorable and a computer genius who is down-to-earth and funny. He has his own career and I’ve heard Ms. James is writing Kyle’s story next and I am very much looking forward to it.
Since I hardly ever consort with billionaire heirs and heiresses (haha), I don’t know how real their simplicity is, but while reading, it seems pretty nice.

And oh, I love the book covers. They might be a bit uncomfortable to carry around, but no matter what, they are gorgeous. I think this cover page was better than Something About You.
But I think in more than one way Something About You was better than A Lot Like Love.

For instance, lets take the characters. I think Jack is hotter, sexier and more intellectual than Nick. I find Nick a bit cynical. Although I like both Jordon and Cameron, but I didn’t like the way Ms. James has shown Cameron’s character in ALLL. Not only characters but even the plot was much better actually for SAY. There is suspense that a reader finds interesting and the way Ms. James has created the love story between Jack and Cameron was better than Nick and Jordon.
And there was a part when I was a bit disappointed; I was wishing that Nick won’t miss his mother’s birthday party and would take Jordon with her. That would have been such a nice scene.
But I still liked the relationship between Nick and his family. Also I love that “don’t-fuck-with-me” face which was quite similar to Jack’s “glowering” thing. I find it quite funny.

So, all in all, it was a good book, somewhere funny, somewhere sweet and somewhere exciting. I suggest if you are one of Ms. James fans just go for it.

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Review: Just The Sexiest Man Alive

By Julie James. Grade A+

This is a woman who can write amazing contemporary romance. I read a lot of romance, but Julie James still stands out.
I found it surprisingly refreshing to have a light-hearted, sweet, romantic storyline without a vampire or serial killer in sight. Contemporary romance seems to be on a downward shift lately and authors are more frequently jumping onto the paranormal bandwagon (which I am a fan of, but every now and then you just want to pick up a nice boy-meets-girl story without a lot of subplots and angst involved).

Nothing fazes Taylor Donovananot in the courtroom and not in her personal life. So when she’s assigned to coach People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for his role in the next big legal drama, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrobas charms. Even if he is “the” Jason Andrews.

This book follows a somewhat simple premise, but puts a unique spin on it. Yes, boy-meets-girl, boy-ticks-off-girl, hate at first sight ensues, but the difference being that girl is a very successful lawyer and boy is “The Sexiest Man Alive” (three times over) and the biggest name in Hollywood. An unbelievable plot told in a very believable way. When Taylor Donovan finds out she is supposed to “coach” Hollywood playboy Jason Andrews for his new upcoming legal thriller that he’s scheduled to film, she’s initially star struck. But after a no-show (twice) on his part, she’s not impressed when he saunters into the courtroom two days late and a dollar short.

This seems like a movie unfolding in your mind with extreme ease. Reading this book was like watching the cutest romantic comedy while having unlimited boxes of dark chocolates within easy reach.

I love it best when an author allows both the hero and the heroine to verbally spar on equal grounds, and here’s what Ms James has done.
The other thing I liked about this book is that it is not based on graphic sex unlike many novels. The sexual tension is everywhere but not full of it, like most contemporary romances are. Usually, love comes after sex (see Rachel Gibson and Jennifer Crusie) but here, it is completely the opposite, making you want to believe in love all over again.

A cynical person may say that the book did not seem believable, and that is why she/he didn’t like it. I accept the story is not so believable but at times it is wonderful to read a book in which everyone is happy and relaxed and a bad world doesn’t exist.

She definitely is up there with Crusie and Phillips. A solid, relatively new, author with sophistication and humor. The covers the publishers put on her books are embarrassing to carry around and I would have passed her over completely had I not liked them secretly.

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Review: Something About You

By Julie James. Grade A

I once read somewhere that a lot more guys would read romance novels that they do now if they didn’t have half-naked people on the cover. For example, look at the cover.
While my first thought at seeing it, “Woah, what a dress,” when I showed it to one of my guy friends, his first line was, “Its porn, isn’t it?” :roll eyes:
Ms. James’ Something About You fits the bill.

From Amazon, book summary:

When a high-priced prostitute is murdered in the neighboring hotel room, sole witness Cameron Lynde’s safety is in the very capable but unforgiving hands of FBI special agent Jack Pallas, who thinks she sold him out three years ago on a case involving the Chicago Mob. As an assistant U.S. attorney, she’s fully cognizant of the risks, especially since the client caught on videotape engaging in kinky sex is the well-known, married U.S. senator from Illinois, recently appointed chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. But as the murderer closes in, Jack and Cameron must put aside their differences to stay alive and solve the case. James has crafted another sizzling, vibrant contemporary legal romance set in her hometown, with edgy banter and edge-of-your-seat encounters between the forces of law and those corrupted by access to power. The sequel, A Lot Like Love (2011), continues the Martino investigation subplot with another FBI agent, Jack’s friendly rival, Nick McCall in A Lot Like Love.

There were a lot of things I liked about this book.
Firstly, unlike most romantic suspense, it doesn’t let the mystery overtake the main plot. Some of Julie Garwood‘s books do that a lot which annoys me to no end. However, in SAY, the focus stays on Jack and Cameron, and the heroine isn’t your typical I-am-a-female-and-I-need-a-big-FBI-agent-to-protect-me. Cameron is as professionally accomplished as Jack; she doesn’t treat being put in protective custody lightly and doesn’t put herself in danger deliberately so that the male protagonist gets to play hero as he saves her.

Ms. James has a plot which is intriguing and keeps the reader interested. I wouldn’t say its good enough to keep me at the edge of “my seat” as I try to guess the killer. However, there are a lot of times when you have to hold your breath because the killer is just around the corner.
The best thing about the suspense was that there were no scenes about the killer in which he has been portrayed as a depraved, mad man who is off his hinges. He is just an ordinary man who committed a mistake, and now he is getting his hands dirty and dirtier to keep it covered up.

Another part which I really in her books is her meticulous research. Whether the protagonists are lawyers, FBI agents, wine connoisseurs – they know what they are doing and saying. And their careers are not just something thrown in to highlight their personalities. There are a lot of scenes which contain detailed descriptions of what they do and show their competence. Everybody says that Cameron Lynde is an incredible attorney. Hell, she is the heroine. She has to be good. But Julie James shows how good she is as she fights a court battle.

This book was heavier due to the seriousness of Cameron’s situation, the long shadow of the past, and Jack’s personality, which is much more typical alpha than James’s first two heroes. James has a little bit of meta fun with this, having Cameron use the romance buzz word “glowering” to describe the dark looks Jack throws around.
However, it still had her elemental dose of humor:

Purple Hair stopped dusting blush over Cameron’s cheeks. ‘Hold up. Are you talking about the dark-haired guy who came in with you? The one who searched me before I could do your makeup?’
Cameron grimaced. ‘Sorry about that.’
‘Don’t be – it was the highlight of my month.’

Julie James is an auto-buy author for me now. I advise this book to all contemporary romance fans, and even to those, who are not.

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Review: Practice makes Perfect

By Julie James. Grade: A

This was the last of Julie James left for me and I am seriously sad that there are no more left for me to read. At least until she writes the other one, but still the wait would be too long. :sigh:
The one thing I like is that Ms. James is a lawyer and due to this reason, she is able to give us detailed – and accurate descriptions – of the practical aspects of her work.

Practice makes Perfect also involves lawyers but still is quite different from her awkward debut Just The Sexiest Man Alive.

When it comes to the laws of attraction, there are no rules The battle between the sexes is about to make these two lawyers hot under the collar.
Opposites collide when two lawyers try to make partner at the same firm. Payton Kendall is a feminist to the bone. Cocky J.D. Jameson was born privileged. But when they’re asked to join forces on a major case, they gain a newfound awareness of each other’s personal assets. The partnership spot will be offered to only one of them, though. The competition heats up. Sparks fly. Let the games begin.

Both are workaholic, intelligent, great looking, successful junior litigators at a large Chicago law firm, and both are hoping to make partner any day. J.D.’s the wealthy, conservative, golf enthusiast son of an admired judge. Payton’s the vegetarian feminist daughter of a single mom communist PETA loving hippie. Thanks to their differences in worldview and the competitive environment of the firm, they’ve been antagonists trying comically to one up each other for eight years. They have had this war going on between them which never seems to end and instead seems grows worse with each passing day, due a reason none of them is clear about.

A twist arrives in their tale when they are offered a case together as partners and have to work together on the same case for the first time and mention each other’s plus points to their client and they agree to become friends and somehow they are good at their strained friendship.
Another twist follows: the partnership they previously thought would be offered to both of them would now be given to only one and they again are against each other. However, this time they are not as personal as professional.

Their fights are fun to watch at and really funny to read but the way they fight seemed to me somewhat childish. Maybe thats what the author trying to show: how even adults become kids when it comes to their competitive spirit.

The way Payton spills coffee on J.D.’s suit and as revenge cuts off her heels and her skirt rips is really funny. However, when their fight continues non-stop, it gets a little tiring but before it becomes too much to bear, it stops. Kudos to the writer for maintaining the perfect balance.

I really liked Payton. She is strong, smart,independent, successful, funny, and “” like J.D. “” incredibly anxious over the partner thing. She’s prone at times to negative emotions, like jealousy, envy, spite. She’s very, very human. Payton’s “feminism” is signaled by her support of preferential promotion, a strong desire to be successful in her job, and her decision not to toss her career out like so much bath water after a lovely weekend with the hero.

For his part, J.D. is the rich boy, Ivy League, et al; the guy with every advantage in life known to humankind, but who still feels oppressed by gender politics. He does not move on his father’s command and has a brain of his own. He’s a bit of a dandy, takes himself too seriously, is terrified he won’t make partner “” he’s motivated by the desire to prove himself to his titan of a disapproving father, whose nepotism he rejected early in his career .

I would like to mention again that Julie James has wonderful covers!

The ending is somewhat predictable. If you’ve read her previous books, you’ll realize the heroine always gets a better job/offer and her career becomes even more successful than ever before, when the novels comes to an end.
All in all- Funny, Witty, Sassy, Fast. A Great book.

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