Review: A Lot Like Love by Julie James

Posted on March 9, 2011

3


Series: None

Hero: Nick McCall

Heroine: Jordan Rhodes

THE FBI WANTS HER COOPERATION.

As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city’s top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there’s only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother’s release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau.

AGENT MCCALL JUST WANTS HER.

As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never get personal. This “date” with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment—one they’re both determined to pull off even if they can’t be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick’s investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they’re a couple, and what starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more. . .

What do a wine connoisseur and an FBI agent have in common? One Kyle Rhodes. Jordan Rhodes, wine connoisseur and store owner of same, is the twin sister to Kyle as Nick McCall, FBI agent, is the undercover agent who needs to use Kyle’s incarceration to pick up Jordan. The pickup isn’t for romantic reasons but to tag Jordan to make a deal with the FBI for an offer she can’t refuse. Not when it means getting her brother out of prison. Kyle, otherwise known as the Twitter Terrorist, is incarcerated for shutting down Twitter for two days after his girlfriend publicly dumped him and uploaded a video of her with another man.

“Is it bad out there as they say it is?” he asked. “From my six-inch window, it looks like we got hit with one hell of a storm.”

“It took me nearly an hour to shovel the sidewalk this morning,” Jordan said.

Kyle brushed his-neck length dark blond hair off his face. “See? That’s one of the positives of being in prison. No shoveling.”

“You live in a penthouse condo and haven’t shoveled snow in years,” she pointed out.

“A deliberate choice I made because of the trauma of my youth,” Kyle said. “Remember how dad used to make me shovel the whole block every time it snowed? I was eight when he came up with that plan – barely taller than the shovel.”

“And I got to stay inside making hot chocolate with Mom.” Jordan waved off the retort she saw coming. “Hey, it was good for you – it built character.” She paused for a moment, taking in their steel-barred surroundings. “Maybe Dad should’ve made you shovel the next block over, too.”

“That’s cute.”

“I thought so.”

Kyle is adorable. He isn’t a computer geek with no personality but has a sarcastic lovable mouth that makes each visit from his sister something to look forward to. The only son of a billionaire, one would assume that Kyle is spoiled, brainless, useless, and/or snobby. On the contrary, he is very much down-to-earth and responsible. Unlike some children of the wealthy, Kyle owned up to his behavior rather than use his father’s name to get him off of the crime he committed. He even maintains his cheerful personality even after being the target of inmates.

Nick is a tough, gruff FBI agent who is ready to leave for his mother’s 60th “surprise” birthday bash when he gets called in to assist a rookie agent with an undercover case. Turns out he does more than assisting when the flu is involved and he becomes the “Tall, Dark, and Smoldering” date that Jordan brings to a wine charity event. As things aren’t complicated enough, the villain has the hots for Jordan as well as her money and Nick goes from pretend date to pretend lover. Though he probably wouldn’t agree, Nick was already sweet on Jordan before he realized that she isn’t a spoiled rich heiress as he had generalized. He takes care of her even when they’re at odds by bringing her a meal after she’s had a long day without food in her. Before long, Nick isn’t playing at possessive. Nick in true emotion is drool-worthy but not caveman-like. As if he isn’t already hot enough, Nick obviously adores his mom. When he calls to tell her that he wasn’t going to make it to her birthday bash after all, it was a moment that I wish he could sneak out another undercover and also take Jordan with him.

To Jordan, Nick is bossy, arrogant, and annoying (though only at first for the latter) but that doesn’t stop her attraction to the scruff agent who scoffs at drinking “pink drinks”. Unlike Ms. James’ previous heroines Jordan isn’t a lawyer but an entrepreneur wine store owner catering to much of the upper class Chicago clientele. Jordan’s father is rich but he raises his children to be their own person, encouraging them to understand the value of money by having them carve their own lives. As a result, Jordan isn’t so much a pampered princess as a woman who utilizes her smarts and sharp personality to become the successful businesswoman that she is. The fact that her father has loads of money only adds to her allure.

Put two sharp, contrasting personalities together and you get lots of smart, witty bantering plus some smoking sexual tension. There is no immediate bed tussling but the wait is so worth it because Nick is all guy, confident without being excessively so. Case in point is the bubble bath (with bubbles!) he takes with Jordan which is too hot to put into words. Readers who despair of an emotional drag-down after Nick and Jordan gets together have nothing to be concerned about. These two are mature characters who act accordingly so yet they are neither boring nor unrealistic.

Each scene in A Lot Like Love is either funny, sweet, or poignant.

“Well, Ma, see…there’s this girl.”

Silence.

He checked to make sure the call hadn’t been dropped. “You still there, Ma?”

A sniffle.

“You can’t be crying already,” he said.  “I haven’t told you anything about her yet.”

“It doesn’t matter, Nick,” his mother said through her tears.  “Those are the three words I’ve been waiting thirty-four years to hear.”

Seriously choked up.  And so sweet.  I was hoping we would get to meet Nick’s mother and brothers but, nonetheless, the conversations he has with his family are a treat and provides great insight to Nick as a son and brother.

There is much snarkiness throughout this book and yet I still couldn’t get enough.

The only thing that prevents ALLL from being an ‘A’ read is that the suspense part comes to an end albeit too easily. The build-up in capturing the villain to capture the bigger villain seems to have mellowed out once Jordan and Nick gets together. And how the villain came to break due to a certain discovery is just too astonishing for words. All quibbles aside, this latest book by James is full of awesomeness – loads of humor, steamier romance, engaging dialogues, and a great cast of personalities. Unique and clever, the use of Twitter for Kyle’s crime showcases James wonderful creativity and writing. Kyle’s story is next and I’m all anxious to see which lady will snag his interest after being so publicly heartbroken.

Grading: B+

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Posted in: B Reviews, Reviews