THE THING ABOUT LOVE – Julie James
Chicago, Illinois; Jacksonville, Florida – Present Day
FBI Special Agent John Shepherd was on the plane to Chicago from Detroit after an eight month undercover assignment, anxious to see his girlfriend. Even though it was after ten at night, John got some flowers at the airport and stopped for Alicia's favorite cupcakes to surprise her. After eight months of his only being in Chicago a few days a week, Alicia wasn't too thrilled with all his traveling and time away from home. When John walked into their apartment it was quiet, but as he made his way to the bedroom, he heard moans that he's very familiar with. Needless to say, Alicia was in bed with one of his best friends, Rob. After surprising them, and what a surprise it was, he decided to grab what he could take and left. After hearing Rob say their friends Matt and Lucas wanted them to tell him, John was even more devastated. Their friendship dated back to college, and in one swift move he had just lost three of his best friends, plus his girlfriend. Finding out only one friend was left who didn't know about the affair, John was left wondering what kind of FBI agent he is. His girlfriend and one of his best friends were having an affair, and he didn't even suspect a thing.
John just heard the HRT, Hostage Rescue Team, is again asking him to try out. They'd been after him for years because of his undercover experience and years in the Army Rangers. Since he just lost his apartment and girlfriend, it looks like he has no further reason to not try out for the team. Three months later he's back in Chicago and waiting to work during the summer until the HRT picks the new members. It's a good thing the FBI has a juicy white collar undercover case for him.
Jessica Harlow has transferred with the FBI back to Chicago from California, hoping maybe a change of scenery will help her get over her divorce. Chicago was her home, and her family lives there, maybe getting away from the sadness will be good for her. Fortunately, her new boss has an undercover job for her right away. The Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida is accused of taking bribes for construction permits, and the Florida office has asked for their help. They will be entrepreneurs looking to invest in a restaurant in a part of the city needing more business. Her partner turns out to be none other than John Shepherd, her nemesis all through the FBI academy six years ago. Jessica had the advantages in the legal area as an attorney, and she excelled at interrogation. Unfortunately her small size didn't help her with shooting skills or athletic abilities. As a former Ranger, John excelled in anything athletic, but not so much in the areas where she had the advantage. All through the academy the insults between them flew, but when each trainee had to fight another, Jessica was the only recruit to take John down, something that still upsets him to no end.
John and Jessica's history gives them a convincing relationship in Florida, until the mayor seems to be getting a little too interested in Jessica. As experienced undercover agents, they both have exceptional skills and must be careful that they don't ever give themselves away, despite the usual uncontrollable instances that can happen in any undercover story. As feelings grow between them, Jessica must think about what would happen if John gets accepted in the HRT team based in Virginia. And John must consider if the HRT team might be something he can enter into wholeheartedly.
Julie James, with her usual panache, delicately handles the mixture of drama and comedy in THE THING ABOUT LOVE. Known for her crisp dialogue, sly wit, and interesting situations, Julie can handle two people who intensely dislike each other with only one hand on the computer keyboard. Both John and Jessica are overachievers; Jessica was a lawyer before becoming an FBI agent, and while in the Academy she knew the only way to survive was to study, take extra practice, get help learning to shoot better, and building her body up physically. John could handle the physical part of the Rangers, and the Academy training was easy. He even tried to encourage Jessica, “Hey move it” was the best he could do. But the legal part and pretend investigations wasn't his best subject. John, too, spent extra time trying to be the best trainee he could be. That smarty pants Jessica wasn't putting anything over on him! It's easy to see how Julie James had a lot of fun bringing these two people together who are similar in so many ways.
Secondary characters are the Mayor of Jacksonville, and the other FBI agents in Chicago and Jacksonville who are trying to work the undercover case.
THE THING ABOUT LOVE is another of Julie James's fantastic FBI stories. Strong characters, dangerous situations, and sharp wit will have you looking for her books a year before they are published. I can guarantee John and Jessica will make you fall in love with them as they try to get over the recent sadness in their lives. The question is, if John gets accepted into the Hostage Rescue Team, will he leave Jessica to start a totally new life and end what has barely begun between them? You'll want to beat everyone to the store to get THE THING ABOUT LOVE, or else pre-order before it comes out. Don't pass this up!