The Thing About Love (Kate Fansler) Paperback – 18 Apr 2017
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Praise for The Thing About Love
Named One of the Best Love Stories of 2017 by NPR
A Goodreads Highly Anticipated Book of 2017
"[A] perfect beach read."—NPR.org
"Julie James writes delicious books[.]"—The Washington Post
“James’ star shines even brighter with this smart, sparkling winner.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A sexy and thrilling standalone[.]”—Goodreads
“James’ dialogue and characters sparkle with intelligence and humor, and there is plenty of action.”—Booklist
“James’ knack for witty, snappy banter and excellent story plotting is on full display in her latest novel.”—RT Book Reviews
“I had the best time reading this book!”—Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
“The Thing About Love is a delight.”—USAToday.com
Praise for the novels of Julie James
“Julie James writes books I can’t put down.”—Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author
“It's easy to see why [James'] books have such a wide appeal.”—USAToday.com
“A tantalizing dessert—a delicious, delightful read that all hopeless romantics will enjoy.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Sexy and effervescent.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Packed with hilarious situations and sharp dialogue.”—San Francisco Book Review
“A rare treat.”—Chicago Tribune
About the Author
After graduating from law school, New York Times bestselling author Julie James clerked for the United States Court of Appeals. She then practiced law with one of the nation’s largest firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of her scripts, she decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time. Julie’s books have been listed on the American Library Association’s Reading List for Top Genre Novels and Booklist’s Top 10 Romances of the Year, and have been featured as one of Cosmopolitan magazine’s Red Hot Reads. Julie’s books have been translated into seventeen languages, and her most recent novels are The Thing About Love, Suddenly One Summer, It Happened One Wedding, Love Irresistibly, and About That Night.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
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I have a lot of negatives to discuss. But because they're either small or don't always affect the overall enjoyment much, they don't have a huge impact on the rating. Synopsis first:
Both Jessica Harlow and John Sheppard are FBI agents. They also have a past. They were both in the same class in the Quantico training academy and did not get along. And even though it's now been six years, when Jessica transfers to the same office as John, it's not good news. What's worse is that they've been assigned as partners in an undercover sting involving a corrupt politician. So now they have to work together, without strangling each other.
The reason John and Jessica didn't get along in Quantico is one that we find out via... wait for it... backstory. And if you know me, you know how much I hate those.
In this case, we got two chapters, one from Jessica's perspective and one from John's. Combined, that made like 30 pages of backstory. And what was worse was that half of John's chapter was the same as Jessica's, just from a different perspective. I get that the author wanted to show how they each saw each other, but it still meant that I had to read thirty pages of backstory, some of which was repeated. And I swear to you, I almost died.
Thankfully, that made up less than 10% of the novel. The rest of it was in the present and while they did talk about the past, that's not something that bothers me.
As for the present, I liked it. The banter that the book promised wasn't entirely there but I did have fun with the two characters. They had chemistry and things were sweet. I liked how the dynamic between them changed slowly. The relationship was based on mutual respect and equality. I liked John as a character and I was okay with Jessica, but I had a few problems with her.
Jessica is described as a "saucy" person. She's all about the quips and sarcasm. And usually, I would love that. I live for sarcasm. But she never took anything seriously. And she used quips to deflect. We were told how their past rivalry was a result of misunderstandings and faults on both sides. And where John apologised for his actions, Jessica simply joked or changed the subject. She never got perspective about what happened in Quantico. It got to the point where she was no longer sassy, but immature; never accepting her flaws and always making light of serious situations. Like, sweetheart, you're a thirty-two-year-old FBI agent, don't you think it's time for you to grow up?
She was bothersome, and the word "saucy" got old. What helped out was the FBI stuff. The case they were handling was simple enough. A mayor who was accepting bribes in exchange for some mayor-ly help. And while there were some readers who didn't like the amount of time spent on the case or the amount of details about the FBI, I really liked those.
The focus on the romance wasn't heavy. We interacted with some others from the FBI, and with both John and Jessica's family and friends. John's brother was a brilliant addition. He was really funny. Kinda wish he'd been more present even though he showed up quite a few times. John's dynamic with his dad was interesting. Jessica's older brother and sister ware funny. It was nice that we got to know some of the people in their lives. But I wish we'd gotten more resolution about John's ex, who, in the very beginning, he found out was cheating on him.
Also, I found it strange how little an impact John's break-up and Jessica's divorce has on their relationship. The main conflict was just always about the fact that John was moving away for a different job, and the effect of their previous relationship was minimum.
Last thing to discuss: the word/phrase that was even worse than "saucy". Well, not worse, per se, it just showed up way too much. And that was "undercover" and "undercover agent". You know how many times the world "undercover" was in the novel? 151 times. And "undercover agent", 35 times. We get it, they're undercover agent. You don't have to keep telling us. And there were other phrases as well. The writing, while good, was quite repetitive. The pace was okay. The ending... I disagreed with a thing or two (but not with John decision about his new job; that was the right call).
Overall, this is an enjoyable read. I really did like it and I'm looking forward to reading more by the author. But it also had many flaws. Still recommend read it, as long as you're not nitpicky.
Posing as business executives at a romantic seaside resort, it doesn’t take long for John and Jessica to recognize their missteps from the past and act on their attraction. But does their relationship have a future if John gets his dream job in the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team?
As always, it was an absolute delight to return to Ms. James’ Chicago and read about past favorite characters in passing. John Shepherd was the perfect feminist hero in almost every respect and I can’t help but find him toe-curlingly sexy.
Jessica Harlow was a badass as well, constantly working twice as hard as everybody else so that she is not taken lightly by those who can’t see past her pretty face. Ms. James has done a fantastic job of describing the details of FBI training and operations. Despite the seriousness of their profession, the characters always have a hilarious inner monologue.
John and Jessica have become one of my top Julie James couples. From not wasting time on cliched hangups to respecting each other personally and professionally, they constantly brought out the best in each other. The Thing About Love is a truly progressive contemporary romance from an author in top form.
I love Julie's books!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
FINAL DECISION: An enemies to friends to lovers story, THE THINGS ABOUT LOVE feels real and dives deep into the complexities of a modern professional and romantic relationship. I loved the characters and their journey to one another.
THE STORY: FBI Agent John Shepherd is just about ready to join the elite Hostage Rescue Team if he gets accepted, but has one last undercover assignment to get through. Just his luck that he happens to be paired with Jessica Harlow. John and Jessica know each other. Six years ago they were in the same class at Quantico and walked away from the experience happy to be across the country from one another. Now, the two have to learn to work together. Both are beginning a new chapter of their lives as they recover from bad relationships. John is planning on leaving Chicago and joining the HRT after catching his girlfriend having sex with one of his friends. Jessica is returning to Chicago after her divorce.
OPINION: This is a beautifully constructed, modern office romance. The story isn't over the top fantasy, but rather real and complicated with no easy answers to the issues John and Jessica face.
The story is properly centered around the characters of John and Jessica and while there is a satisfying and complete plotline, it doesn't overwhelm the romance.
John and Jessica have a history. The two met six years ago during FBI training. While there was an attraction even then, the two rubbed one another the wrong way because they really didn't get to know one another. Both are competitive and their attraction turned to ruthless competition between them. When they are forced to work together, they find out that they actually have much in common.
I loved the portrayal of Jessica who is a woman competing in a world dominated by men. She knows that she has to be more careful than them in how her co-workers see her. That is one reason that John rubbed her wrong six years ago because he made her feel less proficient. In her personal life, Jessica is a woman who has just received her final divorce decree and has been urged by her friends and family to start dating again. Jessica, however, doesn't have interest in the modern dating realities. A suggestion that she find a temporary guy to have hot post-divorce sex seems like a real possibility when the attraction between her and John explodes.
John, too, has had his world turned around recently. When he discovered his girlfriend and friend in bed together, he lost not only his relationship but also some long terms friends. Jessica coming back into his life seems like a miserable topper to his recent misfortunes. The only thing that seems to be going well is his potential transfer to the HRT. But one of the great things about John is that his is challenged and in serious competition with Jessica and her arrival makes him up his game. John is a good man because he treats Jessica with respect and acknowledges her competency as an agent. I really liked how he treats her with complete professionalism even when he is attracted to her.
I really enjoyed how the relationship between these two developed...there are funny moments and intense sweetness and good sexy parts, but the entire story is tied together by the deep respect these two have for one another. Even when they were "enemies" and competitors, there was the recognition of a worthy opponent. I thought that the development of their relationship felt natural and real and I thought the romanticism of the story flowed so nicely from their mutual respect for one another as professionals.
Julie James always navigates the realities of modern office romances so well. This book is no exception!
WORTH MENTIONING: I'd like to read a book about John's brother Nate who deserves to fall really hard for someone!
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE THING ABOUT LOVE is the seventh book in the FBI/US Attorneys series. These books, however, are only loosely connected and are standalones can be read independently.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
Almost from the beginning, the characters were thinking, "Gee, this guy/woman isn't so bad - I think I may have misjudged him/her." In other words, the only real reason for tension disappeared pretty quickly, and we were back to characters hesitating with each other because they weren't certain they were "ready to trust" (since both characters had just come out of long-term relationships). I'm sorry, but for me, the "not ready to trust" storyline just comes across as angsty and makes the characters seem like wounded little birds like something from a bad Lifetime Network movie. It is not enough to sustain tension (or an actual plotline) between two characters.
Both characters were, of course, beautiful specimens of the human species with everyone drooling over them, and it took very little time for their opinions of each other to go from dislike to like to love. I did not hate the book - it was all just kind of by the numbers, and sort of bland. The witty banter was not quite that witty. The sex scenes were not particularly sultry - they were kind of by the book (no pun intended). There was the requisite "Ooo-baby, Ooo-baby, Ooo-baby. You are like NO ONE I've ever been with" Mountains moved. The Earth shook, and then they both sat back and basked in the wonder that was sexual relations with the other person. There were fewer references to the designer shoes, fine wines, $1000 suits, and swanky eateries, but there were still enough of them that it made the characters kind of shallow. Those type of references are all fine and dandy, but when there are too many of them, they make the characters seem plastic.
The ending was rather sudden with the hero **SPOILER** giving up his dream job that he had worked extremely hard (for years) to achieve and the heroine deciding he was the guy for her pretty quickly despite the fact that her family (that she was supposedly close to) had no idea the two were even involved. All of this happening within a few months of the characters leaving a long-term relationship and a marriage and supposedly being "afraid to trust" **END SPOILER**. The actual case the characters were working on wasn't particularly interesting either. Just another skeezy guy to make the hero annoyed by leering at the heroine.
Overall, it certainly wasn't awful, but it wasn't especially great either. It was as though there was a template being used (two beautiful, but emotionally wounded people, "not ready to trust" attempt witty banter, have the sex, sing "You're the One That I Want" and live HEA - The End).