Review: A Lot Like Love by Julie James

April 1, 2011

A Lot Like Love

Author: Julie James
Series: Unnamed but follows Something About You
Publisher: Berkley Books
ISBN: 978-0425240168
Date Released: March 1, 2011
Format Reviewed: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Length: Novel (304 pages in paperback / 548 KB in Kindle format)
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Online blurb:
Jordan Rhodes seems to have it all: money, fame, beauty, and her own successful business doing what she loves, introducing people to exceptional wines. But her twin brother Kyle is serving hard time after crashing Twitter in an emotional reaction to his girlfriend’s very public breakup with him. The FBI offers to commute Kyle’s sentence to time served if Jordan cooperates by getting one of their people into a very exclusive charity fundraiser. James’ sassy, suspenseful sequel to Something About You (2010) exhibits her trademark sizzle and wit while focusing attention on another FBI undercover agent assigned to ferret out the secrets of Chicago’s Mob. James pits Nick McCall’s bad-boy appeal against Jordan’s warm heart in a classic romance trope and concludes with tantalizing hints about future installments set in the same intriguing venue. –Lynne Welch (From Booklist via

My opinion:
I initially bought this book on a whim, having never read a book by Julie James before. The lovely cover attracted me, as did the mention of crashing Twitter. Because I work in the high tech field, I am always curious how it gets woven into stories. I admit that I would normally have started with book one in this series but, for some reason I cannot fathom, it is not out in Kindle format and I just don’t have space for more paperbacks right now. I started reading A Lot Like Love before bed and that was a mistake in retrospect. The story drew me in and time passed without my really being aware of it which is always a good sign, though not great for getting up on time the next day.

Nick McCall is a Brooklyn born-and-raised FBI agent, now stationed in Chicago. Just off a long undercover assignment to take down a large number of dirty cops, he’s looking forward to taking some vacation time and visiting his close-knit family in New York for his mother’s 60th birthday. He loves undercover work but he needs this long-overdue vacation. Just as he’s getting ready to leave, his boss asks him to help out a newer agent on a sting involving the largest mafia boss in Chicago and claims he should still be able to make his mother’s party. With a money-laundering trail leading straight to a local restaurateur and nightclub owner, they just need a way to get into the restaurateur’s office to plant bugs for evidence gathering during his exclusive charity fundraiser.

Jordan Rhodes owns a small wine shop and enjoys her interactions with her customers. From teaching someone new to wine the basics to brokering deals for the wine collectors on rare or new-to-them wines, she loves her successful business. But since her twin brother, Kyle, was arrested for carrying out a denial of service attack that took down Twitter for two days, she lives in a state of constant worry and fear over just what is happening to him in jail. When the FBI approaches her and offers to barter Kyle’s freedom for her assistance in their sting operation, she gives in despite her disbelief that her friend the nightclub owner could ever be involved.

With another agent in charge of the sting, Nick is only supposed to act as an advisor and sit in the van with the equipment while the bugs are planted. The other agent is supposed to act as Jordan’s date which is just as well, since Nick is nowhere near Jordan’s usual type. Easy and uncomplicated, right? Except things do not go according to plan when Jordan’s “date” becomes ill and Nick has to walk into the role at the last minute.

A Lot Like Love was a fast-paced, enjoyable read that kept me wondering just what shoe would drop next but without becoming overly frantic. I really liked Julie James’ voice and the way she brought life and unique qualities to each of her cast of characters, even the ones we don’t spend a lot of time with. I don’t have much familiarity with Chicago, so I can’t speak to the local flavor, but the few details included on the Twitter Denial of Service by Kyle (aka the “Twitter Terrorist”) were reasonably believable and didn’t pull me out of the story. While the plot didn’t strike me as especially innovative, I have to admit I loved the sarcasm and banter that wove through the book. It was funny and yet did not fall victim to the “trying too hard” trap that many authors do when they try to write something humorous. That leads me to think this may be Julie James’ natural style and I’d love to see more of it.

The ending was no surprise but was quite satisfying and the characters were charming and drew me in right away. I have to admit I let out a satisfied sigh when I got to the end. Now if I could just find the first book in this series in Kindle format, I’d love to read it too.

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