by Julie James
Published by Berkley on April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer.
FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.
For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .
I adored this book! It checked all my “swoony romance” checklist:
Swoony hero? check
Capable and sassy heroine? check
Witty banter? check
Feel-good romance factor? Double check!!
Jessica Harlow and John Shepard are FBA agents who started off as enemies during their FBI training to frenemies as they worked on their first case together to eventually becoming lovers.
If you’re looking for plot-twisting, ulcer inducing, angsty story, then this book won’t be for you. But if you are in the mood to read about two people who had to work on changing their perceptions about each other, fall in love and then learn navigate and balance their growing love for each other and their chosen careers, then this book is for you.
Julie James has a way of crafting stories that just oozes romance from page one ’till the end. I love her heroes and her heroines, and these two couples are no exception. Their chemistry is palpable throughout the book. I loved how these two characters fit together and how they work hard to make their relationship work, how willing they both were to change considering that their first meeting wasn’t exactly the best.
Another thing I really liked about Ms. James is the way she incorporates work-life balance into her stories. Most of the time in romance books, after the couple gets together, work sorta fades into the background, like you won’t hear as much how work takes over and affects the relationship. You get a sanitized version and no matter how stressful the heroine or hero’s work is, once the relationship starts, everything just falls into place. Heck, some characters forget to go to work and everything is fine.
Here, it’s different. Their job as FBI agents play a big role in the development of their romance and their characters. There are stakes involved. High stakes. And that made me appreciate the overarching elements of being FBI agents and being lovers in the book. It made my wait for this book worth it.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”
In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.
“Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”
“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”
There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”
The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.
They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.
As he knew well.
“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”
Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.
“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.
Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.
She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.
“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”
“’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”
She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”
Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”
He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.
Enough to get the jump on you.
Not for long, sweetheart.
Time for him to get cracking on that case file.