Monday 22 June 2015

#CBR7 Book 67: "Suddenly One Summer" by Julie James

Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has a cynical view of romance and relationships. She's seen enough bitter divorces and custody battles to really believe in happily ever after. She's certainly not looking for anything permanent herself. Not that she'd mind something casual, she just needs to find the right guy. Who certainly isn't her new next-door neighbour, who while he seemed hot when their eyes met across a bar, appears to have a veritable cavalcade of women in and out of his apartment at all hours of the day and night. That's too casual even for Victoria.

Investigative journalist Ford Dixon has a soft spot for women. He loves his mother and younger sister dearly, and his best friend since childhood is a highly successful lawyer who likes to give him a hard time. He's happily single, for all that several of his friends have begun to settle down. However, his bitchy and judgemental new neighbour Victoria, for all that he likes the way she looks, is not the sort of woman he would go for. Yet when his younger sister enlists Victoria's help to locate the one night stand who is the father of her baby, Ford insists he be allowed to use his research skills and contacts to help. Soon he and Victoria are spending a lot of time together, and discovering that their first impressions of the other might have been rather wrong.The attraction they felt during their first encounter in the bar returns, stronger than ever, and soon they are questioning whether casual dating is enough.

Julie James is one of my "pre-order"-authors and I pretty much clear my schedule when one of her new books come out, so I can enjoy it properly. She writes witty and entertaining contemporary romances, featuring successful professionals who are really good at what they do. This book is a slight departure from her "Chicago FBI/District Attorney" books, but it has ties to former books in the series, with cameos from previous heroes and heroines.

After a home invasion, Victoria moves into a sub-let (the apartment next to Ford's) over the summer, while waiting for her new condo to be ready. She also starts suffering panic attacks, which for a woman who's used to having complete control, is unacceptable. The owner of her own profitable law firm, Victoria is deeply frustrated when she's told by her therapist that there isn't an easy fix for her new anxiety. In the process of attending her sessions, she also discovers that there may be more to her refusal for long term commitment than her job. There are clearly issues in her past that are influencing both her current panic attacks and her cynicism about romance. Being as successful as she is, she is able to take on Ford's sister's case pro bono, and working on locating her baby daddy is very different from what Victoria normally does. She likes the idea of reuniting a family rather than seeing it dissolve.

At the start of the book, Ford attends the funeral for his father, who while a very popular and well-liked man in the community, was also an alcoholic, with an erratic behaviour that influenced his children negatively. Because of his father's drinking problem, Ford stepped in to take care of his mother and sister more than a lot of young boys might, and he feels deeply responsible for their well-being. So when his sister confesses that her baby is the product of a one night stand, and her ex-boyfriend who left the state is not actually the one responsible for knocking her up, Ford feels helpless, furious and is determined to move heaven and earth to locate the man who slept with his sister. If that means working with the shrewish woman next door, he will do it.

As I said, Julie James is always a good bet for light, entertaining romance and I wasn't disappointed in this. Not one of her best books, it certainly wasn't one of her weaker ones either. I liked both Ford and Victoria as individuals, and there is great support in Ford's sister, Victoria's snarky personal assistant and infinitely patient therapist. The resolution of the book was perhaps a bit sudden, but I very much liked the epilogue. My biggest problem now is that I have to wait another year for the next book.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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