by Julie James
Series: FBI/US Attorney, #7
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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. . .
THE THING ABOUT LOVE by Julie James delivered a “haters to lovers” FBI undercover romance. The tale filled with banter, snark, and heat, also delivered an equally balanced case that left me smiling. Friends, family, and agents added to this delicious romance making me yearn to return to this Chicago field office.
Coffee dates with The Thing About Love
- First Date: We first meet smexy, undercover agent John Harlow on his flight back to Chicago. He has just finished an undercover stint in Detroit and is looking to mend things with his girlfriend of two years. Only he comes home to find she’s been getting along just fine without him. Agent Jessica Harlow is just returning to the windy city after transferring from the LA office. After her divorce, it seemed like the perfect time to head home. John and Jessica have a competitive, somewhat snarky history together. They trained together at Quantico so imagine their surprise when they are paired up to work an undercover stint in Florida. I am all in. I like both characters, from the competitiveness to the underlying sexual tension.
- Second Date: James gave us chapter flashbacks from each character’s time at Quantico giving us a sense of their shared history and thoughts. It was nice getting an insider look at their initial interactions, and it helped add depth, humor, and understanding as these two engaged. I loved the competitiveness, the tension, admiration, and banter. It gave the romance a light, fun, feel. Because John is waiting to hear if he is accepted by the elite Hostage Resue Team, their building partnership, friendship, and tantalizing chemistry didn’t have the pressures of what comes next. Of course, their romance was predictable, but James kept me reading into the wee hours. Secondary characters from Jessica’s siblings and bestie to John’s brother and friends added humor as they gently nudge each to question their actions and feelings.
- Third Date: I enjoyed John and Jessica’s romance, their time partnered undercover and interactions with their friends and family. Both find themselves feeling more and having doubts as John prepares to depart for Virginia. I kept waiting for one to declare their feelings. James provided some twists, and unexpected happens involving the case. I loved that the tale was drama free even if I wanted them both just to stop, analyze and admit this was more than a fling. You think two FBI agents would realize they were smitten? It was lovely seeing them fall and James gave me lots of swoony and awe moments. I loved the ending and even had a good laugh with the epilogue the author provided.
I ended my dates with THE THING ABOUT LOVE smiling and satisfied. I love when a romantic suspense is well balanced between the case and romance. James does it effortlessly. I am sincerely hoping we revisit the Chicago field office.
Read an Excerpt
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.
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