Thursday 4 April 2013

#CBR5 Book 35. "Love Irresistibly" by Julie James

Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Brooke Parker has worked her way up from being a scholarship kid to working as General Counsel for one of the top restaurant chains in Chicago. She's proven to be extremely capable, but the job demands a lot of her time. So much so, that the hot doctor she's been dating, just dumped her, saying he never sees her, and it's like dating a guy. Pretty much the same story as with the last two guys. Having been dumped by three men in the last eighteen months makes her consider taking a relationship sabbatical.

Then assistant DA Cade Morgan walks into her office, needing her help to catch a dirty politician in the act. The DA's office and the FBI need to plant a microphone in one of the restaurants that Brooke's company owns, and she's the person who can make that happen. A former college football star and rising golden boy in the Chicago DA's office, Cade is used to attention. His last three girlfriends claimed he was emotionally unavailable, but he's not particularly bothered by his bachelor status. Sparks fly when he and Brooke face off against each other, and while they both try to deny the attraction, it doesn't take long before they're meeting for something more than business as well. Can two people who've been accused of working too much and sharing too little of themselves make it work?

What do you think? This is a romance novel. No one reads these for the surprise revelations. You read them for the meet cutes, the witty banter, the (if you're lucky) scorching smexy times and inevitable, yet satisfying happy ending. I mostly read historical romance, but Julie James is one of my exceptions when it comes to contemporaries. A former lawyer, James writes what she knows, her books all feature lawyers and/or the FBI agents who work along side these lawyers. Sometimes the books involve a secondary mystery/suspense plot too, but this one didn't. She writes one book a year, and is the only contemporary romance author on my auto-buy list.

The main story in this book, apart from Brooke and Cade banteringly discovering that they're perfect for each other and can't live apart any longer, is Brooke's slow realization that while she's happy with her professional achievements and where it has brought her, she's not ok with how much of her life her work is consuming. She barely has time for family and friends, let alone a relationship. While her friends claim her last three boyfriends were insensitive douches, she still suspects that there may be some truth in their accusations that she's too distant and focused on her job.

In addition to his high profile grand jury case to bring down the aforementioned corrupt senator, Cade has daddy issues, literally. Raised by a single mother, who was knocked up while still in high school, Cade only met his father once, when he was ten. Now a high school kid shows up in his office and announces that he's Cade's half brother. Having never suspected he had a sibling, Cade is reluctant at first, but also remembers the bitter rejection of his father never returning from the one visit, so agrees to spend some time with the kid, on condition that the boy not tell their father anything about it.

Cade and Brooke agree to keep their dating casual, but it doesn't take long before they're utterly besotted with each other. Julie James writes attractive and likable people, and as these two had some very good banter going, it was a fun ride to see them find their happy ending. The previous two books in this series were ok, but not up to the excellent quality of the first books of hers that I read, so it was a relief to see that she hadn't completely lost the magic.

One of the things that makes her books so enjoyable, is the cast of extremely sympathetic supporting characters that she surrounds her protagonists with. Cade's best friends are two of the FBI agents he works closely with, and Booke has Ford, her best friend since childhood, and his two flatmates. There are also appearances by characters from earlier books, which is a nice touch. New readers won't be bothered by it or care, but for recurring readers, it's nice to see a bit of what happens after their HEAs. The fact that her characters can have close friends of the opposite sex that they're not in any way sexually interested in is also a great feature, as I don't really subscribe to the When Harry Met Sally theory that men and women can't be just friends.

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