Julie James is one of my favorite discoveries in 2010. I got addicted to her writing because her stories have smart characters who gets under each other’s skin and as a result, there’s a lot of witty banter. I gobbled up her books one right after the other and was kind of sad that she didn’t have a bigger backlist, which is why A Lot Like Love is one of my most anticipated reads in 2011. I was so excited when I saw a copy available at Fully Booked Trinoma a day before the actual release date. We rarely get books on time here in the Philippines so I was thrilled to get a copy early.
Here’s the summary from Julie James’ website:
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.
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…
The heroines in Julie James’ other books – Taylor, Payton and Cameron – are all lawyers and I think it’s great that Jordan isn’t. Also, I just wanted to say that I love that Julie uses unisex names for her female characters. Jordan is an heiress but she’s financially independent from her computer geek billionaire dad. She runs her own wine store and it’s pretty obvious that she’s passionate about wine. I don’t know a lot about wine and I’m not a big wine drinker but this book made me want to try out the wine brands mentioned to see if they’re any good. I also loved that there’s a trip to Napa Valley in this book because I’ve been there! Nick is a guy’s guy FBI agent who would prefer not to explore the intricacies involved in drinking wine but he has no choice when he’s assigned to work undercover as Jordan’s date. It was easy to like both Jordan and Nick. Jordan is very down-to-earth and doesn’t act like a spoiled rich girl. Her priorities include her work, her family and her close friends. Nick also loves his family even if he doesn’t live in the same state as the rest of them. He’s serious about work and he loves that he’s good at it. He constantly argues with Jack Pallas from Something About You on who’s a better FBI agent between the two of them. I loved that Jack and Nick would trash talk whenever they could but they know they could count on each other when it comes to their work.
There’s always humor in all of Julie James’ novel and I think that’s one of the main reasons why I like them so much. In this one, Jordan exchanges quips not just with Nick, but also with her twin brother, Kyle, who’s in prison. I’m not going to say why Kyle is in prison but even his reason for being there is so funny. I also found it amusing that Nick doesn’t have a clue about anything wine-related and is horrified to discover that there’s pink wine. He thinks wine is for sissies and that Jordan likes fancy schmancy stuff. He even found Jordan’s Starbucks order weird. What’s wrong with a tall one-pump, sugar-free, vanilla soy latte? I’m partial to an iced soy green tea latte myself but I gave Jordan’s drink a try (except for the one-pump part) and it was pretty good. A Lot Like Love is a fun and light read with great characters and an engrossing plot that moves along nicely. It focuses on the characters and their relationships with people in their lives but there’s also a suspense subplot because of Nick’s work as a FBI agent and Jordan’s involvement in his case. If you’ve never read a Julie James novel and you enjoy reading chick lit or contemporary romance, please pick one up as soon as you can! They’re locally available at around P300 each. All of her novels are hilarious, easy to fall into and read like book equivalents of romantic comedy movies. Can’t wait for the next book, which is going to be about Kyle. If you’ve read any book similar to Julie James’ work, please let me know in the comments.
Here’s a picture of me in Napa, when my cousin took me wine tasting. I’d love to go back there but preferably when I know more about wine.