Apr 13 2017 2:00pm

First Look: Julie James’s The Thing About Love (April 18, 2017)

The Thing About Love by Julie James

Julie James
The Thing About Love
Berkley / April 18, 2017 / $15.00 print, $8.99 digital 

Readers have long embraced small town romances, but reading the same type book over and over again is a sure-fire recipe for a reading rut which then leads to a reading slump.

Luckily for readers, Julie James has the perfect cure. Her settings are big city; her heroines are highly educated professional women who go head to head with their male counterparts. Heroines like Jessica Harlow.

 Listening to her father’s dinner time stories about his civil litigation cases inspired Jessica to go into law herself.  After only a year of law experience, Jessica was recruited into the FBI. She knew up front that being female would be a disadvantage and her youth too –she is the youngest in her class but there is more:   

“You’re a woman. You’re fresh out of some fancy Ivy League law school with only a year’s worth of job experience. And you’re short.” In their final meeting before she’d left for Quantico, her recruiter, Special Agent Stan Ross, had ticked off those characteristics on his fingers, looking particularly peevish about the last one. “Not to mention, you look like you just stepped out of a shampoo commercial with all this. . . flowy hair.” . . .

“There are going to be people who won’t want to take you seriously. People who see a pretty, young blonde and make assumptions,” he’d continued. “So you make them take you seriously. Don’t give them any reason to doubt you in the Academy. You go in there, Harlow, and you’d goddamn better show them what you’re made of. You do that, and you’ll be fine. More than fine actually.”

And that is exactly what Jessica did. With her background in law, she was in the top her class in interrogations techniques but not so hot on the firing range or the more strength-focused tasks.

Jessica’s weaknesses were made even more apparent by John Shepherd’s strengths.

John Shepherd joined the Army right after college to pay off student loans, and discovered that Army life suited him. Being athletic, he thrived on the competition and challenges. Not too many soldiers make the cut to Army Ranger, but John did. Soon after, John was approached by Sean Piser, a FBI recruiter, about joining the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team –the only full-time counterterrorism unit in the FBI. Still John wasn’t impressed:

“With all due respect, sir, I’m a Ranger. If I wanted to put ‘badass’ on my resume, I think I’m set.”

Piser had cocked his head at that. “I hear you’re considering a career in law enforcement after you finish your tour this summer.” Now it was his turn to sound cocky. “We’re the FBI, Shepherd. You want to catch bad guys for a living? We’re pretty much the cream of the fucking crop. So you might want to listen to what I have to say.”

Arriving at Quantico, John felt completely at ease with the sound of gunfire, looking forward with anticipation “to have people barking orders at him and telling him to get his ass moving.” But he wasn’t prepared to be shown up by a cute little blonde:

Jessica, in particular, was a standout. And John would know, because throughout those weeks, their interrogations instructor played almost every single one of her videos as a “good” example of what to do in whatever scenario they’d been given that day.

John, on the other, had yet to find his groove. Given his military training, his natural inclination was to be a little tough and demonstrate who was in charge, but all that did was get the witness hollering about Miranda rights and demanding to see a lawyer.

“I said ‘take charge’ of the situation, Shepherd, not scare the crap out of the guy,” their interrogations instructor said, after John had completed an exercise with an actor who’d pretended to be a defense contractor suspected of stealing a blueprint he planned to sell to a foreign intelligence agent.

Competition is a good thing right? Unless, the individuals feel embarrassed or humiliated. Which is exactly what happened to Jessica and John –needless to say, their memory of their time together is not exactly favorable even though they had to fight against ample physical attraction.

Now, John and Jessica are thrown together again in a professional capacity. Both still have something to prove. Jessica is the newbie in the Chicago office, just having moved back to her hometown after a disastrous marriage and then divorce.  And John, after finding his girlfriend cheating on him with a friend, is waiting to find out if he has been accepted Hostage Rescue Team. So he sure doesn’t want to blow his chances with reports of not being a team player.

Fans of James will rejoice with her return to her FBI series. Jessica is a dynamic powerhouse –the type of heroine we come to expect from James. Intelligent, competent, and to her male counterparts very sexy.   And John –well certainly, he brings plenty of intelligence, and determination to the table, in addition to being quite delectable:

Six years ago, John Shepherd had shown up at the FBI Academy looking every bit the former Army Ranger. With military-short hair, cobalt-blue eyes, and six feet, four inches of ripped muscles, he’d had the kind of clean-cut, all American good looks that belonged on a Wheaties box.

But the man standing before her seemed . . . grittier. Gone was the buzz cut; instead he wore his deep gold hair in a semi-unkempt, textured style that was a bit longer and choppier. Also gone apparently, was his razor—at least judging from the week’s growth of scruff along his strong jawline.

It’s entertaining reading about how John and Jessica bring down the bad guys . . .but even more enticing is their romance—from frenemy to lover . . . and more.


Learn more about or pre-order a copy of The Thing About Love by Julies James, available April 18, 2017:

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H&H Editor Picks:

All the Things to Love About Julie James + The Thing About Love Early Sneak Peek!

Damsels Not in Distress and the Importance of Strong Heroines

5 Lessons Readers Can Learn from Romance Novels


Scarlettleigh, blogger.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
I'm eager to read this! Thanks for the First Look.
Carmen Pinzon
2. bungluna
I always look forward to Ms. James' books, precisely because her heroines are smart and capable and they take place in large cities. I've grown so tired of madcap idiots in small towns.
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