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REVIEW:  Love Irresistibly by Julie James

REVIEW: Love Irresistibly by Julie James

 

He’s used to getting what he wants

A former football star and one of Chicago’s top prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan will do anything to nail a corrupt state senator, which means he needs Brooke Parker’s help. As general counsel for a restaurant company, she can get a bug to the senator’s table at one of her five-star restaurants so the FBI can eavesdrop on him. All Cade has to do is convince Brooke to cooperate—and he’s not afraid to use a little charm, or the power of his office, to do just that.

and what he wants is her.
A savvy businesswoman, Brooke knows she needs to play ball with the U.S. Attorney’s office—even if it means working with Cade. No doubt there’s a sizzling attraction beneath all their sarcastic quips, but Brooke is determined to keep things casual. Cade agrees—until a surprising turn of events throws his life into turmoil, and he realizes that he wants more than just a good time from the one woman with whom he could fall terrifyingly, irresistibly in love . . .

This book is our Book Club pick so comments are closed.  Please join us over at the Book Club Discussion Thread.

Dear Ms. James,

This! This is the kind of book I’ve come to expect from you and so sorely missed the last time. This is what I look for in a contemporary romance: great characters, a believable blend of romance, funny dialog that all comes together in a story that flows with feeling and depth to it as well. It’s damn near perfect.

Love Irresistibly by Julie JamesCade Morgan and Brooke Parker are two lawyers who fall in love but it takes a while to get there. Their opening meeting sets the stage for what’s to come. He’s tall, dark and gorgeous, has a “prosecutorial, I-ask-the questions-I-don’t-answer-them” look and isn’t shy about throwing around being an AUSA to get what he wants for his investigation. She’s blonde, leggy and beautiful and isn’t shy about conveying to him that he can kiss her ass and telling him what he can do with his obstructing justice threats – something that makes the two FBI agents he brought with him to the meeting grin. I was impressed by how the power balance is maintained between them professionally. They feint, they dodge, they impress each other with their legaleze and the sizzling heat starts to build. Both are busy at their jobs, have friends, work late, text a lot – in other words, they seem like real people of today.

The damn-this-is-some-hot-sex is great and fun and funky with the red heels and lawyer skirt Brooke wears. She and Cade prove it is possible to have melt the sheets sex with her in a pencil skirt. The timing of the start of their sexual intimacy seemed just right – they don’t immediately springboard into shagging each other senseless but they are healthy adults who believe in benefits. I like how it is part of their growing relationship. It starts casually but moves toward something deeper like the scene where Brooke takes of Cade’s sore shoulder and then turns that into foreplay.

A contemporary can’t just be all sex, sex, sex, sex for me. I want more. Brooke and Cade are developed as people instead of coming off as character checklists. Their pasts do affect who they are now. She feels driven to succeed partly because of all that her parents gave up to further her education and chances while he is reluctant to let anyone in because of how his father panicked and left when Cade was a child. But the great thing is you don’t make these issues the be-all, end-all of who they are or make them all overly angsty and tied up in mental knots about it. Instead it shows subtlety and gives them shading and depth which takes them beyond merely two dimensional. One of the strengths of the book is how they slowly develop as a couple while accumulating inside jokes, sharing their pasts – including things they’ve never told anyone else – and the intimacies of their lives.

I love it when they get all lawyerly and “legal speak” each other which even impresses the FBI dudes. Being lawyers is big part of their lives (yippee that Brooke isn’t a trial lawyer!) and you show this. I assume that all the legal stuff is legit. Brooke is a confident, smart, determined workaholic who hasn’t felt need to curtail that for past relationships. When she does sit down and take stock of how this is impacting her life (first) and possible relationship (second), I didn’t feel as if she was selling out for love or that she caved to the feeling that she couldn’t have it all. The fact that she got to dictate her terms and came out ahead while scoring more time for her personal life was awesome. Cade’s past as a star quarterback who let football stand in for his lost relationship with his father has colored how deep he’s let relationships get. It takes a blast from the past to open his eyes to it but in the end, it helps him to take the plunge to let Brooke in and to want to be let into the inner circle of her life. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, again I like how this signals the change in their growing relationship.

Since this is the fourth book in the series, there are a lot of past characters and given that most of them either work as lawyers or FBI agents, it would seem strange for them to not be part of this book’s universe. We get caught up with many of them but for the most part get the rundown without it taking over and making these characters seem like they’re jumping up and down, waving their arms to be noticed. The one exception seemed a little strange with Cade being given a blow by blow account of a marriage proposal in a conversation that felt as if it should have been between Cameron and Rylann. Yeah, that is as sexist as it sounded but the scene coming from Rylann to Cade felt awkward.

My review of your last book whinged on about what I felt was the lack of conflict. Here I didn’t notice a lack. The main focus of this book is on the building of the relationship between Cade and Brooke. It centers more on the inner barriers that they must overcome rather than any external ones. It’s a quieter book than the ones featuring active FBI investigations as the central action but I found it richly rewarding with all the aspects coming together to show the story of two modern people, stretching and growing as individuals even as they meld together as a couple. A-

Oh, and I’m still waiting for Wilkins.

~Jayne

 

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What Jayne’s Been Reading and Watching Recently

What Jayne’s Been Reading and Watching Recently

Most books that I finish get their own reviews but here are some that either I didn’t finish or I didn’t think warranted a separate review.

The Terrorist – Caroline Cooney / Fabulous writing. Intense, page turning, I was 50 pages into it before I even realized it when I finally came up for air. In this YA book, young Billy, who died from a terrorist bomb in London, is made memorable, in fact so memorable, that he seemed that way for a long time. As long as his family will miss him terribly, I suspect. They are stunned, disbelieving, in denial and full of rage. This leaps off the page as does his older sister Laura’s rage and determination to find the people who killed her brother. This is a powerful evocation of grief and loss and revenge. I’ve reviewed another Cooney book here that has romantic elements. B

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Mistletoe Kisses with the Billionaire – Shirley Jump / Confined by all the category conventions. I kept reading because there was one big difference and that is that the hero is the one who came back to the little town first and who seems like he’s more likely to stay. He’s the conscientious one to the heroine’s “I gotta get out of this place” persona which is the reverse of what I’m used to seeing but it’s still not enough to overcome every small town convention and a matchmaking grandmother. Sorry but I bailed at the 1/3 mark.

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Brooklyn Love – Yael Levy / 4 women who are followed through the ups and downs of searching for love and marriage in the world of Orthodox Jews in NYC. It expanded this world for me which is what I look for in new-to-me settings and situations. However, the ultimate fate of two out of the four women is – to say the least – a major downer. One finds happiness in her unexpected marriage, one looks to have found her Mr. Right, but the minute a scandal hits his family, one immediately tosses in the towel on the man she was all set to upend convention in order to marry and the last woman appears to be headed for a life of married living hell based on what we’ve seen of her fiance. Wow, way to end the story. D

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The Nabob’s Widow – Elsie Lee / When Elsie Lee’s name is mentioned, voices intone in hushed or squeeing reverence, “The Nabob’s Widow!!” Comments to a post here continued this tradition and I decided to finally readit and find out for myself how good it is. With that decision made, I headed to a couple of online USBs I have bookmarked and, taking a deep breath, began the search. I found a used paperback copy in pretty good shape for a price that didn’t make me wince too badly and clicked my way to a purchase. It arrived and I sat, reverently gazing at this Holy Grail of trad regencies. I hoped it would do for me what it appears to have done for so many others – turn me into one of those bouncing, happy readers who gush whenever the book is mentioned. Alas, the book falls into the category of “would have liked it better years ago.” Reading it now…I think my high expectations might have had a hand in why the 1/3 of this book that I managed to slog through did almost nothing for me.

I wanted to slap Dianthe. She’s like a pint-sized Mary Poppins – too perfect. Plus – call me a prude – but when I read a trad regency from the mid 1970s, I don’t expect to see the word c*nt used. Also, the Christmas celebration – complete with tree (which I thought wasn’t an English custom until after Prince Albert arrives in the early 1840s) is a minor annoyance. But what’s really the sand in my Vaseline is the fact that the hero’s sister’s son is mentioned – several times – as being the hero’s heir. Is his title one that can be held suo jure? Oh, and the cats. I’m a cat person, I grew up with Siamese but it didn’t take me long before I was sick of ‘em. I stopped at this point and conferred with Sunita who said it was doubtful that soldiering on would change my opinion much. With that I decided that I have too many other books to continue to waste my time and raise my blood pressure.

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The Duchess War / Courtney Milan – Since I’d never read any of her books and she’s such a favorite among my fellow reviewers, I figured I’d better get with the program. I started this book and immediately felt as if I’d been dropped into the ocean with no life preserver and the waves were crashing over me. Nevertheless, the set up for the hero and heroine to be pushed together was original and kept me going. Until I hit the scene where the heroine is urging her best friend to marry the cad who was looking into Minnie’s past just because Lydia needed to marry. This after Minnie spouted off statistics to Robert, the hero, about the percentage of unwed women in England and how she needed to marry. How depressing. The hero is an odd duck too spouting off information about political agitation in Leicester to an out of work worker’s organizer. WTF? I don’t mind nuggets of information but don’t just drop them in the story with a clunk. And all the SECRETS and mysteries and the “club” of left handed future heroes…. Sorry but I have too many other books to try and too little time already. DNF

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*****

A few things I watched recently:

Garrow’s Law and City of Vice are both UK productions set during the 18th century that explore historical personages and institutions. I knew almost nothing of 18th century English barrister William Garrow before starting this series but watching justice be meted out – or not – in cases based on actual ones in which he was involved is fascinating. I can certainly say that the juries are out for a whole lot shorter amount of time than the case I sat on. City of Vice tells the story of how the Bow Street Runners were founded by the Fielding Brothers in an effort to stamp out the rampant crime afflicting London. It is also supposed to be based on actual crimes and cases. Most of the crimes dealt with in both series seem to center on sex and violence so these are not series I would recommend if you’re looking for placid village cozies.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Werner Herzog takes us to the Chauvet Cave in France where some of the oldest cave paintings in human history were found. The documentary goes slightly off the rails when he attempts to wax rhapsodical about philosophy and “what ifs” but this wonderful glimpse of the beautiful images there is well worth sitting through that.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – another documentary here. Do you like sushi? Watch this to see a master at his craft as he perfects the product he and his staff offer at his restaurant in Tokyo.

Top Secret Rosies: Female “Computers” of WWII – Here is the story of some unsung heroines of WWII who used their brains and mathematical skills to help win the war.

Ken Burns – Prohibition – Burns’ documentaries are hit or miss with me. I enjoyed this one though I could have done with fewer images of barrels of booze and beer being bashed. The recollections of those who lived through it are the best part.