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4.4 out of 5 stars
A Lot Like Love (Berkley Sensation)
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
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.

Kariebabs
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2011
I loved Julie James's first two books, and after reading her third I was unsure if I wanted to get this one. Its not that her writing is bad its just a little boring compared to the snappy lawyer, fighting the attraction till the end, super funny first two books. I don't know I guess there was just something missing for me that made me devour 'just the sexiest man alive'.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2011
If you like Julie James' other books, you'll probably love this one too. My absolute favorite book of hers is Practice Makes Perfect - busted out laughing many times and would recommend it as a read for anyone who liked this book. This book appears to be the 2nd in a series, first being Something About You (another great read), which is about Agent Pallas and U.S. States Attorney Cameron Lynde - the books can be read independently of each other. A Lot Like Love has Pallas and Lynde as minor characters.

A Lot Like Love is about FBI Agent Nick McCall, who, while preparing to head out of town for his Mother's 60th birthday, gets roped into a last minute consultation on a junior agent's assignment. Junior agent ends up getting sick and Nick ends up having to go undercover.

Jordan is a billionaire's daughter, though proclaimed as financially independent - this piece kind of stuck with me... I live in Chicago and its very tough to believe that a small business owner, though ahead in her 10-year business plan, can afford a 4,000 sq. ft home in Lincoln Park; that's like half a million dollars in real estate at the LOW end and she still has money for first class vacations (/business trips) and designer shoes? Anyways, I'm sure as a billionaire's daughter she has money, but maybe her everyday expenses are covered by her income or her store really does phenomenally well- whatever, it doesn't really matter, I liked Jordan as a person. She was completely down to earth and real.

Nick is on the case for taking down a money launderer, Xander, and so he poses as Jordan's BF to get into Xander's exclusive party and bugs Xanders office. Turns out Xanders got the hots for Jordan (and her Dad's money) and immediately wants Nick followed to find some dirt on him and figure out how serious the relationship is. This pushes Nick and Jordan to continue acting out their relationship.

This book has what's becoming James' trademark in my eyes, witty banter which is downright hilarious at times, a fast-paced story that keeps you turning pages, and lovable characters you could easily be friends with. James has a way of writing emotion you could feel, I hurt for Nick when he had to call and tell his Mom he was missing her party, the disappointment was tangible and I teared up when Nick calls home to say "Ma...there's this girl"

I even loved the secondary characters, Jordan's twin Kyle was great and I'm really hoping he gets a story soon!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
This is the second book in Julie James’ FBI/U.S. Attorneys series and follows Special Agent Nick McCall as he works to expose a money laundering scheme involving a notorious Chicago crime boss, Roberto Martino, and famous restaurateur, Xander Eckhart. Nick, originally from Brooklyn, comes from a family of cops and is one of the top agents Chicago’s field office. He’s just finished a six month deep undercover operation that resulted in the exposure and arrest of over two dozen dirty cops and all he wants is a few days to visit his mother on her sixtieth birthday.

Nick’s career means he’s knows that plans sometimes change, and he takes it in stride when his boss pulls him in to help a younger agent, Seth Huxley, with his first solo op. Huxley needs to plant some listening devices in Xander’s office in order to connect him to Martino, and the ticket inside is wine store owner and billionaire heiress Jordan Rhodes. Although Jordan’s father is a highly successful, self-made CEO to a company that made its name selling anti-virus software Jordan and her twin brother grew up modestly, and were expected to make their own way as adults. Jordan has done very well for herself but Kyle, the “Twitter Terrorist” has recently landed himself in prison after drunkenly taking down the site in a two day denial of service attack.

Eckhart hosts a yearly wine tasting for charity and as an heiress and wine store owner Jordan is invited every year. Nick and Huxley approach Jordan - who isn’t too fond of the FBI after its overly-harsh treatment of her brother at the moment - to bring Huxley as her date so he can slip away and plant listening devices in Eckhart’s office. Jordan begrudgingly agrees to their plan, the only highlights being that Kyle will be released to house arrest and Nick - who seriously rubs her the wrong way - won’t be the one posing as her date. Unfortunately, like in Nick’s case, plans change for Jordan, too, and she finds herself spending a lot more quality time with Mr. Tall, Dark and Smoldering - and Nosy.

This was a light read, yet very smart, quippy and entertaining. Nick and Jordan are smart, hardworking people, and I enjoyed seeing them navigate their feelings for one another. While A Lot Like Love is a romance the investigation of Eckhart and Martino played a huge role in the plot, and it was very interesting and felt authentic. I know this author is a former lawyer and whatever homework she needed to do for this novel she did very well. Everything was extremely realistic and believable, and her descriptions of Chicago made it feel more like a character than simply a setting.

While there could have been more romance I was still very satisfied with this book. Also, Nick and Jordan did have good chemistry but I think it needed to be a little more explosive, especially since they started off not liking each other. However, I felt most of the details and pacing was spot-on. There were no plot holes, tragic misunderstandings or conflicts resolved too quickly/with too much ease. The supporting characters were also fantastic - I particularly enjoyed Kyle. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read contemporary romance, books with characters who work in law enforcement or books with smart, successful female leads. A Lot Like Love may not be my favorite book of all time but I think it would be very difficult for any reader to dislike it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 4, 2011
Despite not having read Julie James' previous novel Something About You, I decided to pick up A Lot Like Love. I hesitated at first because I knew that it was more romantic suspense than comedy, the same reason I hadn't read Something About You. See, I adored her first two books, particularly Practice Makes Perfect, which are both romantic comedies but was afraid I wouldn't like her more serious novels. Plus I'm also not a fan of very spelled out sex scenes, which is why I don't read more from the straight romance genre. I like a little left to the imagination, you know? It also may have something to do with my sheltered, conservative upbringing. But in spite of these reservations, I was in need of a lighter, contemporary read, and it's hard to find someone who does sarcastic humor better than Julie James.

Billionaire heiress and wine aficionado Jordan Rhodes' life is pretty perfect. Her wine store is doing very well and she's happy to have broken the heiress mold and earned her own living. Although she has little in common with their elitist snobbery, regular clients in the likes of wine collector Xander Eckhart signify that she's made it. She even tells herself she's content without a man in her life. The only thing that she could want is for the release of her twin brother Kyle, who's in prison for one of the largest (and funniest) website hacks ever.

Undercover FBI agent Nick McCall is one of the finest at his job and he wouldn't have it any other way. Other than casual flings, Nick doesn't need a woman in his life, a fact he courteously informs each woman he dates up front. His only want is that he could attend his mother's 60th birthday party. For his next job, which just so happens to be at wine collector Eckhart's annual party, he's doing backup for a younger agent, so it looks like his wish may come true. Instead, Nick's stuck pretending to be Jordan's date. When the op doesn't go as planned, Jordan and Nick have no choice but to stay in their boyfriend/girlfriend characters and for him to miss his mom's party. Little do they know that their hearts may be in the most danger of all as what's real and what's an act begin to intersect.

I'm glad I took a chance on this novel because the promising premise pays off. I'm growing fond of novels where the lines between what's real and what's imaginary are blurred. I skipped the couple of smexier scenes but I enjoyed being back in a love-hate relationship with plenty of witty quips and retorts - another trope that James does so well. I found Jordan very likeable. She's grounded despite coming from a wealthy family and has an interesting career in wine, something I know next to nothing about since I don't drink. The wine premise is especially appropriate as wine tasting works well as a metaphor for sex. Rugged, masculine Nick is definitely one of my types. :) I liked that Jordan wasn't sure if she could be attracted to a man's man over the fashionable wealthy/celebrity types she usually sees. Nick is married to his career and I can relate to that too. One of my favorite no-holds-barred smiling scenes star­ted off by Nick:

"So I've been thinking about your question. My character has decided he doesn't want to see other people."

"What made you change your mind? Let me guess - the Maserati."

He chuckled. "Our cover story is that my character has been smitten from the moment he met you. He's not about to let another man get anywhere near you."

"Your character sounds a little possessive. Is this something my character should be worried about?

They came to a stop at the light that would take them onto the Drive. Nicks voice was low, even smoother than the car's engine. "I think your character secretly likes it. You've been dating boring, uptight guys for too long. You've been looking for something different."

Jordan looked sharply at the SUV in front of her. "I think your character presumes too much."

His eyes caught hers in the rear view mirror. "Does he?"

Good times and entertaining stuff. That's exactly how I can describe the experience of reading A Lot Like Love or any of James' novels. While I may prefer her comedies I highly recommend this one to James fans and anyone who needs a chick flick in the guise of a book. Who doesn't? I think I'll be reading Something About You now. :) Both novels are definitely not for the faint of heart though so anyone who can't stomach the occasional f-bomb or graphic love scene, proceed with caution. Count yourself warned. ;)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2011
Gotta say I was disappointed with this book. I loved JJ's previous books, specially Something About You and Practice Makes Perfect. When I read the other reviews I was expecting something in their caliber, but I felt A Lot Like Love was seriously lacking. The sexual tension was good, but it didn't come close to what we have in SAY. And I really did not feel the emotional connection between the characters. I know her last two books (this one included) are a little heavier on the sex factor than her first ones, but it not bother me with Something About You. In this book, however, I had a really hard time trying to get anything deeper from the characters than just lust.

On the positive side, the heroine was not a disappointment. I found Jordan to be a very smart, witty, sexy, funny and confident woman. She knows who she is and what she wants. I really admired that about her. She was the highlight of the book and the sole reason why I'm giving it 3 stars instead of 2. Nick was just Ok.

Overall A Lot Like Love didn't work for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2011
Wine info dump city! Talk about overkill. I can appreciate good research as much as the next guy, but I was skimming entirely too much in this book. To me it's the mark of a bad book, or a bad editor, when I skim almost as much as I read and still don't miss anything important. I hate PAYING for a book where so much isn't worth reading.
I liked the heroine in this book, but the hero? The guy who won't drink wine if it's pink because *real* men do *do* pink drinks along with any number of other macho "real" men do and don't rules? Bleck! Please. Save those types of "heroes" for someone else. If it wasn't for the author [or the character himself --gag] TELLING me he was charming, I certainly would never have gotten that impression from the actual story. He just seemed there, that's all, his presence didn't add anything to the scene except to appreciate the heroine.
I really liked the previous 2 of Ms. James' novels after a *meh* reaction to her first one, and after this one I'll definitely be hesitant to buy the next.
When the best thing I can say about a book is that I really like how the author gets the covers to match a specific scene in the book, well, that doesn't say much for the story within the covers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2011
This sequel to James' Something About You (Berkley Sensation) is a good read with a lot of romance, suspense and some good laughs. Jordan Rhodes is a charming and witty wine shop owner in Chicago. Nick McCall is a sexy FBI agent who enlists Jordan in an undercover bust. Naturally, a romance between the two ensues. The chemistry is good, the dialogue is witty and I found myself wishing I had all the wines James describes alongside me as Jordan and Nick drink their way through Chicago and Napa Valley. If I had any complaint, it's that the book moved a bit fast. However, I enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2013
I liked this, but not nearly as well as Something About You. I didn't much care about the heroine, Jordan: I think wine snobs are hugely pretentious, and I just can't root for a wealthy, beautiful, blue-eyed blonde, even if her mama is dead and her brother's in jail (poor, poor baby). The hero, Nick, also seemed a little flat: there wasn't much to him except for sarcasm. Worse, the conflict in their relationship, especially in the big blowup before the end, seemed contrived--the kind of argument that stems from needing to stretch out the story rather than from any real, insurmountable conflict. Still, Julie James is always a reliable choice for a witty, fun contemporary romance, and while this isn't her best, you could do much worse.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2011
This book is a good news-bad news situation: there was some fun dialogue ( loved the spit vs swallow exchange) but there wasn't enough fun stuff to keep my interest for long. There was way too much information about wine tasting and I found myself skimming and skipping pages. Not the sign of an enthralling book. The story was okay but I didn't buy why this relationship was anything more than sex and why it would be a lasting Happily Ever After. There was too much "tell" vs "show" about how attractive the characters were and as a result they never caught my imagination. I greatly enjoyed Ms. James' previous books but this one just does come up to the level she set. Too bad. I'll hesitate before buying her next one.
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