The Thing About Love by Julie James | Review + Excerpt

Hello everyone,
One of my most anticipated books of 2017 is being released this coming Tuesday! I'm talking about The Thing About Love by Julie James of course, in case you somehow missed the banner above. Read on for my thoughts, an awesome excerpt, and info about Julie's upcoming events.

Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2017 (tomorrow!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
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...

My favorite romance genre is contemporary and I have a LOT of favorite authors in this genre, but if I am forced to pick just one I would pick Julie James. She's my OG in contemporary romance--she made me fall in love with the genre after reading Practice Makes Perfect back in '09. 

Her books are the only ones I reread from beginning to end these days when I do not have the luxury of time to be rereading books, yet I still somehow find the time to reread Practice Makes Perfect and Something About You (my two ultimate faves) at least once every year.

Okay, now that we've established how much I love Julie James's books I am happy to say that of course I loved The Thing About Love. I've been patiently waiting for this book for two years (Julie usually releases one book a year, but she needed extra time to work on this book which impacted its original 2016 release date--anyway, Julie talks about all that on her blog post here), and it's definitely worth the wait.

In The Thing About Love, Julie pairs two FBI special agents John Shepard (an ex-Ranger currently working in the organized crime squad) and Jessica Harlow (a former attorney currently working in the public corruption squad) who first met as trainees in Quantico. They clashed and got in each other's nerves and gladly went their separate ways only to meet again six years later when they are assigned as partners to do undercover work in a high-profile case about a shady mayor.

On the romance front, these two were both burned by their previous relationships. The Thing About Love began with John returning home from a lengthy undercover sting and discovering his girlfriend in bed with one of his friends. So, even though he was partnered with Jessica, he welcomed the distraction a new case gave him. Jessica, recently divorced from her husband of three years, left LA and moved back home to Chicago hoping for a fresh start. Her first case had her partnered up with a man she's never seen eye-to-eye with. However, both pride themselves in being professionals and as they work together they grow to respect each other. As they get to know each other more, the attraction between them also intensifies. 

I absolutely love the chemistry and sexual tension between John and Jessica, which was evident even in the flashbacks when they first met and we learn why they hate each other. But, what's really awesome about these two (as with Julie's other romantic pairs in her previous books) is that they are true equals and balance each other out--John recognizes that Jessica's ingenuity and brainpower is just as significant his physical prowess and vice versa. The sexytimes in this book aren't very explicit but still sexy and the swoon factor is definitely turned up. I just love this couple--I find I missed the unique dynamic Julie James brings to each couple she writes about in her books and I was just so happy to be reading a new book by her.

I devoured The Thing About Love! Nobody can do witty dialogue like Julie James. No one. And we get a lot of her signature smart, witty banter in this novel. John and Jessica often verbally clashed which made for great dialogue that I ate right up. I love Jessica's sass! I also love their competitive antics--these two really know how to push each other's buttons, which made for an entertaining enemies-to-lovers story that I stayed up way too late reading. 

I do have to mention that I learned a lot more about the inner workings of the FBI in this book than I did in Julie's previous FBI/US Attorney books, which was cool with me. I found everything very interesting and I wish I am bad-ass enough to apply and survive training. Also, characters from Julie's previous FBI/US Attorney series books make an appearance in this one and was wonderful revisiting them and getting some hints of what they've been up to. 

I loved The Thing About Love! The only reason I didn't give it the full 5 stars is because it didn't make it in the top two of my personal ranking of Julie's books which goes like this: Practice Makes Perfect, Something About You, and Love Irresistibly, It Happened One Wedding, About That Night, A Lot Like Love, and now The Thing About Love are all tied at number three. If you're wondering about Suddenly One Summer, that one is number four in my ranking. But, yeah, Practice Makes Perfect and Something About You are the ultimate. And, basically, all this just goes to show that if you're not reading Julie James, you are completely missing out. She's the queen of sexy, witty, and smart contemporary romance novels. The QUEEN. Pick her books up--you won't regret it. Plus, all of her books can be read as standalones so you can start with The Thing About Love if you so choose, but all of her books are excellent and I can't recommend them enough.

Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”

In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.

“Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”

“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”

There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”

The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.

They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.

As he knew well.

“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”

Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.


“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.

Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.

She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.

“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”

“’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”

She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”

Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”

He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.

Enough to get the jump on you.

Not for long, sweetheart.

Time for him to get cracking on that case file.

Happy reading,

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