Reviewed: December 28, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: FBI/US Attorney, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 336 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Who would have thought that getting new floors in your home would lead to being a witness to a murder? Certainly not Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde, but a night spent in a luxury hotel for that very reason did exactly that. At first, the enthusiastic - and loud - sexual marathon in the adjoining room was just an annoyance. She couldn't sleep with all the...um...racket. Then, not long after her neighbors had finally reached the...er...climactic portion of their evening and had fallen silent, Cameron's quick trip to dreamland was rudely interrupted by what she first thought was round two...but what turned out to be something far more sinister.
A call girl is dead, a married U.S. Senator is under suspicion, and Cameron is the only witness. Sleep deprived and shaken, there's not much more she can take, so coming face to glowering face with FBI agent Jack Pallas doesn't exactly make her day. Three years ago he shoveled up some verbal abuse of Cameron to a reporter in the events following the bust up of a case he'd spent two years undercover securing and the footage went national. The fact that he thinks she's the reason he was transferred to a crap detail in Nebraska following that debacle doesn't do much to endear him to her, either. Now that he's back in Chicago and lead investigator on this homicide, tossing words like "protective custody" around, Cameron can pretty much cross off the next little while for anything resembling fun, too.
She should have kept the old flooring.
Julie James has another charming hit with Something About You. A little more serious in tone than Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect, this book still scores big on the fast, witty, sarcastic dialogue and solid, likable, and sympathetic lead characters. I'm particularly fond of James for her ability to write intelligent, successful heroines that don't trip over into angst or bitchiness to match wits with their men. Jack Pallas was slightly edgier than the leading men in her preceding books, with a bit of a dark side from his years undercover and the torture he survived at the hands of a criminal kingpin. He was a solid, steady force of nature and the chemistry between him and Cameron developed at an even pace that was believable and subtly woven into their present as they dealt with their past.
As I've come to expect from James, the narrative was smooth, the plot well paced, and the tension well timed as it rose towards the conclusion. I was impressed by a couple of action scenes that I felt were very well written and clearly defined without overwhelming me with detail. The relationship between Cameron and Jack was very well done, evolving and changing as the characters lives are altered by the case in organic ways, but never once losing any of the increasing intensity. Strong, appealing secondary and ancillary characters are also a staple of Julie James' work, and I loved Cameron's best friends and the outlying plot threads they added to the book. Jack's partner was also a source of much humor and wit and I appreciated him as a character, as well.
There were a couple of things that didn't totally work for me in the book. James writes fabulous romantic comedy, but it's hard to strike the right balance between humor and murder, and I'm not totally sure James pulled it off here. I kept feeling like the victim got sort of forgotten in the mess, and while I recognize that the main plot of the non-relationship aspect of the book is centered around keeping the witness alive while the case is being investigated, there seemed to be a prevailing disconnect between that and the fact that a woman was brutally killed. I ended up feeling like the victim was inconsequential. Even Cameron didn't seem to have much of a reaction and little to no lasting impact from hearing a woman get strangled and seeing the man who did it flee the scene. It never quite sat right with me.
The ending was another issue, though to a much lesser extent. I'm usually very appreciative of a book that ties up the loose ends and provides a bright, happy glimpse into a lead couple's Happily Ever After, but there were one or two aspects of that HEA in this book that seemed just the smallest bit too convenient or too neat - like Cameron's promotion and who offered it to her. Especially the scene between Cameron and the cheating senator. Nothing about that scene really worked for me, and given the number of politicians we've seen destroyed in the media over the last several years, it also didn't seem all that realistic.
Still, Something About You was a solid, fun read with a bit of a darker side than James' earlier two books. It definitely catapulted James onto my Buy Everything She Ever Writes list, just as I was expecting it would. There was a lot of humor, a ton of charm, and plenty of good, solid characterization in this book and I enjoyed it a lot. Her next book, A Lot Like Love, will be out March 1, 2011 and I fully intend to snatch it up as soon it comes out. I think I've built up a bit of an addiction to her books and am not relishing the wait until my next fix.
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