Sunday 13 March 2011

CBR3 Book 17: "A Lot Like Love" by Julie James

Publisher: Berkley
Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: March 9th, 2011
Date finished: March 10th, 2011

Nick McCall has just finished a six month undercover operation for the FBI where he helped take down twenty-seven dirty cops. He's looking forward to a well earned vacation and going to his mother's 60th birthday party in New York. Before he has time to leave, his boss asks him to help out for a few days on an operation involving a major Chicago mob boss. Agent Huxley is going on his first undercover mission at an exclusive charity event on Valentine's Day. The FBI need to plant bugs in the office of restaurant and night club owner Xander Eckhart, believing that his various venues are being used to launder money for the mob.

Jordan Rhodes is the daughter of a computer software billionaire, but few people realize that he's extremely keen for his children to make their own way in the world. So Jordan has worked hard to establish her own career, and runs a successful wine shop, bought with her own money. When the FBI show up on her doorstep, her first thought is that something has happened to her twin brother, Kyle, who's in prison after hacking into and shutting down Twitter for 48 hours. He's had several fights in jail, and she worries about him constantly. When agents McCall and Huxley explain that they need her help getting into Eckhart's party, she's initially reluctant to help, but if it could mean early release for her brother, she's willing to consider it. She and Nick don't exactly hit it off, and she's relieved when she finds out that Huxley is supposed to act as her date for the Valentine's Day party.

However, when Huxley comes down with stomach flu, McCall has to be her date instead. At the party, it also becomes very clear that Eckhart may have a romantic interest in Jordan as well, so Nick will have to pose as her boyfriend until the FBI gather enough evidence to arrest him. As the two can barely be in the same room without bickering, their acting skills will be put to the test.

A Lot Like Love is a sequel of sorts to James' last novel, which also featured an undercover FBI agent. It's a fun read, but not quite as satisfying as last year's Something About You, mainly because Jordan and Nick didn't spend as much time together actually getting to know each other. They go very quickly from being annoyed with each other and slightly antagonistic to suddenly being very much in love. As they are interesting characters, it would've been nice to see the relationship develop a bit more, and have more scenes of them bantering and getting to know each other properly. I also felt that the supporting characters in this one were less fleshed out and interesting than those in her last book. It was by no means bad, but didn't quite live up to my expectations. Her next novel is apparently about Jordan's brother Kyle, a computer geek who looks like Lost's Josh Holloway. I'm very intrigued by the prospect, and will absolutely be checking it out.

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