The Thing About Love
Julie James     

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: Sensual/Hot

The New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer blows the covers of two FBI agents who can’t hide who they are from each other...
FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.
For both of them, being paired with an old 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 together—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 lot more complicated...

A romance about FBI agents. How apropos, I thought when I picked it up. The FBI have been prominent in the news these days, haven’t they? But this book is way better than real life because it’s a romance with a big and ridiculously hot FBI hero (he’s six foot four and built and our heroine did call him “big guy”).

So here’s the deal, Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a bit of a history. Six years ago they spent six months going through the FBI Academy together. You’d think that two extremely attractive people of the opposite sex and from the same city—Chicago—would be naturally drawn to each other. You’d only be half right. They are but things are never that simple.

Jessica is functioning in a male dominated field and she has to be careful in how she conducts herself. Hooking up with the hot former Army Ranger is not in the cards, so when he introduces himself to her, she kind of blows him off. She doesn’t want to encourage him. A cold shoulder devolves into a verbal put down, and boy do things go downhill from there. Fast forward to current day, Jessica’s opinion of John hasn’t changed.

Hey, look at me, watch me fly through this obstacle course with one hand and two feet tied behind my back. This is child’s play to what we did in the Rangers, bitches!

John’s opinion of Jessica isn’t much better.

Ooh, look at me, I’m soooo smart with my Stanford law degree, I should be teaching these classes instead of sitting here with the rest of you schmucks.

God, I love these two. They had me smiling and laughing throughout the book. Funny watching them be thrown together once again, this time working at the FBI office in Chicago on an undercover political corruption case. You can imagine their reaction to setting eyes on each other after six years. Love it! Conflict and tension, my two favorite emotions.

John is just coming out of a long-term relationship, and it’s the worst kind of break up. Jessica is back from LA and a five-year marriage to a Hollywood producer. At this point, she’s ready to start dating again. Or I should say her younger brother and sister (twins) are doing their damndest to hook her up, with no luck. John doesn’t even enter into the picture because she doesn’t like him. Okay, you know that’s not really true. They simply got off on the wrong foot, but once they’re working together—jetting off to Jacksonville, FL to bring down its corrupt mayor—things start to defrost between them. That long dormant attraction starts to simmer.

One of the things I love about Ms. James’ heroines is that they’re not the kind of women who hang back waiting for the guy to make the first move. They give encouraging signs and don’t back down and become all missish when the heroes act on them. Once they have it in their head that they want him, they’re not reticent about it. It’s beyond refreshing. The same can be said about Jessica. The fact is, she’s not looking for anything long term, but then neither is John. Prior to coming back to the Chicago, he tried out for HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) and he’s waiting to see if he’s accepted. If he does, he’ll be moving to Virginia and then going who knows where—all over the globe. It’s the perfect situation for two people for which a brief affair is all they want. LOL. Right.

The secondary characters are nicely fleshed out, their supporting status doing what readers expect them to do—fully round out the John and Jessica’s lives. I particularly enjoyed John’s dilemma with his friends and the camaraderie between the agents in the office. The dialogue is snappy, filled with humor, and real. Not so trendy and hip that you’re rolling your eyes thinking, ‘Do grown adults really talk this way’ but not so staid and formal that you can’t believe it’s the 21st century.

The Thing About Love has just the right amount of intrigue and suspense to satisfy readers who like that but don’t want it overwhelming the romance. And you may want to bone up on your acronyms. Just kidding. Ms. James spells them all out at least the first time she uses them, but in the FBI world, they have quite a few.

I loved the ending, and I loved that I was surprised at the way things unfolded. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jessica and John and I look forward to Ms. James’ next book.