There's a whole lot to love about A Lot Like Love from Julie James. This is a superb read, plain and simple. My inner fan girl cannot get enough of Julie's books and this may possibly be my favorite one of hers thus far. The writing is crisp, the dialogue is witty and the sexual tension is perfect without overtaking the plot. If you're longing for a great contemporary read, look no further. Julie James breathes life into a genre that so many say is dying.
A Lot Like Love takes place in Chicago, Illinois. FBI agent, Nick McCall has just come off of an undercover job where he helped take down twenty-seven dirty cops. The former Brooklyn boy is taking time off so he can go back home for his mother's sixtieth birthday party. But a sudden wrench is thrown in his plans. His boss asks him to help out on a case regarding Roberto Martino, who runs the largest crime syndicate in Chicago. They believe they can finally take him down through Xander Eckhart, a well-known restaurant and nightclub owner, who also has a wine bar that caters to the rich. They believe Eckhart is laundering drug money for Martino. The plan is to place a bug in Eckhart's office during an exclusive charity wine event on Valentine's Day that costs five thousand dollars a person. An Agent Huxley will be going as a guest while Eckhart acts as a consultant of sorts. The problem is that Huxley needs to go as someone's guest, and that's where Jordan Rhodes comes in. Jordan is the daughter to a billionaire who made his fortune through computers (think Steve Jobs). They believe Jordan will help them because of her twin brother, who's in prison.
Jordan may have a rich father, but she's financially independent. She's a business woman in her own right as the owner of DeVine Cellers, where she sells wine. When Huxley and Nick come to her with a proposition where they will release her brother Kyle from prison if she helps, she accepts. She'll have to play that part of Huxley's date. Jordan adores Kyle and wants him out of prison. This happened just because he shut down Twitter for two days. Kyle, the so-called, "Twitter Terrorist" and Sawyer look alike from the TV show Lost now sits in jail because of his actions. Jordan will do whatever she can to help him get freed, although she isn't took keen on Agent McCall. He rubs her the wrong way, assuming she's some spoiled rich girl.
Things don't go according to plan because Huxley gets very ill the night of the charity event. Now Nick has to be her date and make it believable that she and Jordan are dating. Everything should still work out, but what Jordan never realized, and suddenly finds out, is that Eckhart wants her, not only for her wine expertise, but her body, as well as her fortune. Now she and Nick have to keep up their fake relationship until Eckhart is arrested. Not only does that place Jordan in a dangerous situation, but she finds herself attractive to the gruff Nick, who has no idea about wine and the total opposite of the men she's always been interested in. A heated kiss on her front steps starts the ball rolling where their acting becomes a reality.
A Lot Like Love is full of so much win. I can't find anything wrong with this book at all. It has everything I could want as a reader. This is a smart, mature, fun book with some suspense and marvelous sexual chemistry between Nick and Jordan. Talk about a great couple who steam up the pages! Julie has a great way of building up the tension between these two where the payoff is well worth it. At one point Nick's jealousy comes out in the open where he wants to claim Jordan. Making out against a wall surrounded by wine is my idea of fun, not counting a bathtub scene that had me nearly swooning.
The dialogue between the characters is top notch. There are more than a few laughs, especially as Nick lusts over Jordan. My favorite scene is where he picks up Jordan for the charity event and his eyes pop out over her dress. He finds out she's not wearing a bra, just Band-Aids over her nipples. His internal reaction is priceless:
"Don't think about her nipples. Don't think about her nipples. He was thinking about her nipples."
Julie has a great way of showing off her secondary characters as well. Kyle is a real hoot. He's a dorky, loveable computer geek, who looks much like Sawyer, played by the hot actor, Josh Holloway.
How can you not get behind that? I was also very interested in Xander, the suave, seductive villain. I couldn't get enough of him and envisioned him being played by the actor, Julian McMahon.
A Lot Like Love reads much like a screenplay, and one if it did get made into a film, I'd love to see. Perhaps Reece Witherspoon would be perfect as Jordan and Clive Owen as Nick?
This is a book I had such a blast reading. Not only did I crave wine while I read, but as soon as I finished reading, I was craving for more from Julie. A Lot Like Love is the first book of the year that I can say will be in my top ten favorite reads for 2011, and one I whole heartedly recommend you pick up.