The Thing About Love The Thing About Love on April 18, 2017
Pages: 373
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three-stars

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. . .

This is the 7th installment in her FBI/US Attorney series, and it has a different feel to it than her others. I’m not able to put my finger on it, other than to say that this was a lot less fun than her previous 6 books. (also this can absolutely be read as a standalone).

At the end of the book there is a section for book club questions and the added to the trade size book and cover style change, best I can figure is she’s aiming for more of a Rom Com/Women’s Fiction vibe rather than Romance vibe.

The main issue I had was that it didn’t really hit its stride until about halfway through and that’s…an incredibly long time. and when it did hit it’s stride, and the characters were more engaged with each other, I really enjoyed it. But it shouldn’t take half a nearly 400 page book for the reader to like a character.

The heroine Jessica is…I don’t know. I didn’t like her until farther in because she finally quit giving the hero crap. She was rude and judgey for like half the book and seeing her interact with John wasn’t fun witty banter with sexual tension. It was frustrating because she makes it seem like he had done something terrible to her in the past.

And while I get the whole He Said/She Said chapters, it really paints Jessica in a poor light. She comes off as the kind of competitive that makes her the jerk in the situation, rather than someone who thrives on friendly competition. John is an all-around good guy who has worked his butt off to get where he is, but is also just a really great guy and seeing Jessica’s version of events didn’t help her cause with me at all.

John is a Thor-like all-American former Army Ranger turned awesome undercover FBI agent. He’s literally got no flaws. I think that for this type of character to work with the Jessica type character, it would have been better in first person point of view. I know I know, I can’t believe I said that either, but seriously, a way to get past John being perfect, and for us to see Jessica’s version of events in a better light, this should have been in Jessica’s point of view the entire book. Having John’s perspective for so much of this book really shows Jessica as being a brat…an uber-competitive jerk.

I think their break-ups with their respective exes was unnecessary. John’s was never resolved to my satisfaction either. Small spoiler-in the first chapter John gets home a day early from an undercover job, and he’s really excited to see his longtime girlfriend. He can’t wait, he’s got flowers, chocolates, he’s thinking how nice it’ll be to see her again, how sexy she is…and he walks in on her with his best friend. Okay, none of that was necessary to further the plot. It could have been cut out completely. Also, with his best friend? Why? Again, did nothing to further the plot. It was pointless and then it makes it harder to want him to get with Jessica since like a week ago he was in a long term relationship. So by the end, he’s out several friends and his girlfriend. It was unecessary.

Jessica’s relationship at least was over before the divorce was finalized so there weren’t any lingering feelings…until she’d think about sex. I really don’t want to know about sex with her jerk of an ex. It was weird.

This is a Romance with a Women’s Fiction vibe, it’s got it’s moments, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite in the series. That being said, I really hope Julie James writes another in this series, because all the other books have been fun and flirty and I smile a lot as I read.

***ARC courtesy of the publisher Berkley

three-stars