ARC Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James


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4 stars

I loved this book! Another smart, funny, sexy and romantic read from Ms James!

John Shepherd and Jessica Harlow met while training to become FBI agents. It did not go well. John was a dedicated Army Ranger, the picture of the perfect soldier who flew through the physical aspects of the training, and Jessica was fresh out of law school and an academic wiz. Following misinterpreted motives and misunderstandings they became fierce competitors who couldn’t wait to see the back of each other at the completion of their training.

Now, it’s six years later. Jessica is newly divorced after her marriage to a Hollywood producer fell apart due to her dedication to her job, and John’s long-term relationship has just gone up in flames for the same reason. They both throw themselves into their work, and when Jess’s transfer to the FBI’s Chicago office sees her going straight into an undercover mission, they are both horrified to discover that they are now partners.

I love an enemies-to-lovers romance, and this one is really well done. The animosity between John and Jessica is believable, but the underlying chemistry is very much present, and it’s a delicious mix of emotions as they are thrown together for the first time in six years, and all of that aggression is just begging to come out. The banter is fantastic, and every moment they were together was so much fun!

“You know what? Let’s not do this, after all. I think dredging up the past will only make things worse, and you and I have got to be in sync these next couple of days.”
“That’s fine with me,” he said. “I wasn’t the one who started chatting about the good old days in the first place.”
“Trust me, I won’t make that mistake again … Besides, you obviously have some reading you want to do and I don’t want to hold you up.”
“I appreciate that,” he said, faux-politely.
“I’m glad you’re appreciative,” she said mock-nicely, before turning to her e-reader.
So much for lessening the tension between them.
“You do realize you still make the sassy head movements even when you only think the words, right?” John said.
Jessica glared but remained silent.

John and Jess are fantastic character, both strong and confident, with no baggage, traumatic backgrounds or unnecessary drama. They are both ‘normal’ people, successful and driven in their careers, and determined to get through their mission together as they become the front-line in a longstanding investigation into a fraudulent politician. And, of course, as they travel away together to carry out their job, all of their time together allows them to get to know each other, to re-hash the past and talk about the present, and their long-buried attraction resurfaces.

I loved these two together! The relationship felt so natural with lots of chemistry and sexual tension and a great camaraderie as they move from enemies to friends to lovers, and it flowed beautifully. There’s a great build-up with no stupid behaviour and no game playing, they just go with it, and it all feels so right.

He traced his thumb over her skin. “Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to look at me this way?”

The sexy time is hot and intense, and with the story written in dual POV we get to see them both falling for each other, and what they initially planned to be a short-term affair soon becomes something so much more.

“You’re so goddamn sweet. So mine”

But life has a way of complicating things, and when John is given the career opportunity of a lifetime, they will both be forced to re-evaluate their priorities and what they want from life.

“The thing I want most is to spend the rest of my life with the one person who drives me crazy in all the best possible ways.”

I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, smart, romantic and intriguing read. There’s a lot of detail given about John and Jessica’s case, their jobs, and the various training and political aspects of their work, and while it was interesting, I honestly didn’t feel that I needed to know that much. For me it was all about the love story, and that, combined with how much I enjoyed the characters, was what carried the book for me – though I did think that the different elements of the story were blended really well.

I loved it – a solid 4 stars.



Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”

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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