A Lot like Love - Julie James
I'm hoping this review won't be as awkward and all over the place as my review of Someone Like You. I read this book first last summer. I was studying for the bar and couldn't deal with reading about lawyers so I skipped over book one (though reading about them now isn't helping either, unemployed bitterness doesn't make a romance better). So I can tell you that you can definitely read this book without having read the first and not be lost at all. However, there are a lot of connections and nods to the first book that I obviously missed my first time reading.With this installment JJ's writing has tightened up a great deal. I'm not entirely sure what it is, because I really liked the first book, but the writing in this one was notably better. There was very little of the pseudo-first person that I thought could seem a bit silly at times in this book. There was less he wore/she wore than the first book, so maybe this wasn't the book I read last year that made that phrase a pet peeve of mine. I think the only issue I had in terms of the writing was that the sex scenes, while still satisfying, were more explicit. Something that certainly wasn't necessary with the way JJ writes them, they lost a little bit of the sensuality.All the way around this book was even funnier than the first. Some of my favorite moments reference a certain television show. All I can say is that someone was bitter about the way Lost ended while enamored with one of the characters while writing this book. I love it because I agree with her on all counts. But truly a good deal of the humor comes from the even stronger characters in this story that are just so damn likable. That applies just as much to the witty secondary characters as it does our Hero and Heroine. In the unlikely situation Jordan Rhodes was thrown into, she so easily could have been the wilting woman – frightened, malleable and easy to command. Thank God, JJ does not do weak women. Jordan is self-assertive, intelligent and doesn't let anyone push her around. Not that Nick McCall doesn't try. She frustrates his admitted Cro-Magnon tendencies, but that is what draws him to her. “What can I say? I’m not much for uncomfortable silences.” “What’s your position on uncomfortable conversation?” Nick had to check his grin at that. Christ, she was a sassy one.Out of the gate their sarcastic back and forth made me love them and they were able to keep it up throughout the book without it becoming old or over the top. Nick, while overly concerned with being a man's man, is still so charming and lovable. Jordan and Nick are sarcastic and fun with everyone in this story, but the two of them together is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Wine was almost another major character in this story, which was rather tedious for me, personally, because I detest wine. Yeah, I know. I'll wait for you to stop making that face at me. They might as well have been talking about prune juice, I react the same way to drinking either. But considering it resulted in lines like this:Time for Wine Tasting 101. “So here’s how this works. When tasting a wine, as opposed to casual drinking, there are four basic steps you need to remember: sight, smell, taste, then spit or swallow.” Nick paused at that last part and cocked his head. “And your personal preference on the latter would be . . .?” “Only lightweights spit.” His right eye twitched. I can get over it.Again, this is a romantic suspense where the emphasis is on the romance. There is no question of the villain as knowing who he is and what he's doing was the set up of the entire plot. Switching to the villain's point of view in this book was much more seamless than in Someone Like You. The overall flow of the story was much smoother. My biggest problem with this story was Nick's loose lips. He works undercover for the FBI. Why in the blue devil would he tell everyone that? Especially some random sex partner he had no intention of dating? I used to work for the government, and not something as sensitive as his job, and we all generally said the same thing when asked what we did, "I work for the government." He was also blabber-mouthing to everyone details of the case, and future case possibilities. OPSEC, Nick, damn! It just didn't make sense to me. The relevant plot progression resulting from some of this information could have occurred without Nick being reckless. There is a misunderstanding of sorts. However, it plays out with these characters better than I've seen in any other romance novel. Here it wasn't used as a plot advancer – a simplistic monkey-wrench thrown in to create drama. It was born of the characters' well established personalities and became a necessary impetus for growth. I've recommended this book to people and I think you'll be missing out if you don't pick it up. It's fun and romantic with characters you'll love and wish were part of your real life.