I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Thing About Love by Julie James
Series: FBI/US Attorneys #7
Published by Berkley on April 18th 2017
“Nearly fifteen thousand special agents in the FBI, spread throughout the United States in fifty-six field offices, and she had to show up in Chicago for what was quite possibly his last undercover assignment.”
FINAL DECISION: An enemies to friends to lovers story, THE THINGS ABOUT LOVE feels real and dives deep into the complexities of a modern professional and romantic relationship. I loved the characters and their journey to one another.
THE STORY: FBI Agent John Shepherd is just about ready to join the elite Hostage Rescue Team if he gets accepted, but has one last undercover assignment to get through. Just his luck that he happens to be paired with Jessica Harlow. John and Jessica know each other. Six years ago they were in the same class at Quantico and walked away from the experience happy to be across the country from one another. Now, the two have to learn to work together. Both are beginning a new chapter of their lives as they recover from bad relationships. John is planning on leaving Chicago and joining the HRT after catching his girlfriend having sex with one of his friends. Jessica is returning to Chicago after her divorce.
OPINION: This is a beautifully constructed, modern office romance. The story isn’t over the top fantasy, but rather real and complicated with no easy answers to the issues John and Jessica face.
The story is properly centered around the characters of John and Jessica and while there is a satisfying and complete plotline, it doesn’t overwhelm the romance.
John and Jessica have a history. The two met six years ago during FBI training. While there was an attraction even then, the two rubbed one another the wrong way because they really didn’t get to know one another. Both are competitive and their attraction turned to ruthless competition between them. When they are forced to work together, they find out that they actually have much in common.
I loved the portrayal of Jessica who is a woman competing in a world dominated by men. She knows that she has to be more careful than them in how her co-workers see her. That is one reason that John rubbed her wrong six years ago because he made her feel less proficient. In her personal life, Jessica is a woman who has just received her final divorce decree and has been urged by her friends and family to start dating again. Jessica, however, doesn’t have interest in the modern dating realities. A suggestion that she find a temporary guy to have hot post-divorce sex seems like a real possibility when the attraction between her and John explodes.
John, too, has had his world turned around recently. When he discovered his girlfriend and friend in bed together, he lost not only his relationship but also some long terms friends. Jessica coming back into his life seems like a miserable topper to his recent misfortunes. The only thing that seems to be going well is his potential transfer to the HRT. But one of the great things about John is that his is challenged and in serious competition with Jessica and her arrival makes him up his game. John is a good man because he treats Jessica with respect and acknowledges her competency as an agent. I really liked how he treats her with complete professionalism even when he is attracted to her.
I really enjoyed how the relationship between these two developed…there are funny moments and intense sweetness and good sexy parts, but the entire story is tied together by the deep respect these two have for one another. Even when they were “enemies” and competitors, there was the recognition of a worthy opponent. I thought that the development of their relationship felt natural and real and I thought the romanticism of the story flowed so nicely from their mutual respect for one another as professionals.
Julie James always navigates the realities of modern office romances so well. This book is no exception!
WORTH MENTIONING: I’d like to read a book about John’s brother Nate who deserves to fall really hard for someone!
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE THING ABOUT LOVE is the seventh book in the FBI/US Attorneys series. These books, however, are only loosely connected and are standalones can be read independently.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.