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FBI/US Attorney #7

The Thing About Love

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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. . .

373 pages, Paperback

First published April 18, 2017

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About the author

Julie James

20 books9,497 followers
New York Times bestselling author Julie James practiced law with one of the nation's largest firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of her scripts, she decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time. Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages and Julie’s ninth novel, THE THING ABOUT LOVE, is now available.

Julie James lives with her husband and two children in Chicago, where she is working on her next novel.

Visit Julie's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/JulieJamesfan...

Follow Julie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/juljames and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliejamesa...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,082 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
4,053 reviews69.5k followers
January 31, 2020
2.5 stars

So I didn't think it was terrible, but I didn't really enjoy it, either. Which was shocking because I love everything else James has written. She's a talented writer, and I enjoyed a few of her other FBI romances, but this time around it felt like there was too much FBI detail.
It was as though she'd researched all this stuff about the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and white collar sting operations, and she was determined to use every last bit of information she had gleaned, goddamnit!
By the end, I was skimming the (rather boring) parts about this undercover case the two agents were working. There were too many details about the preparation (fake websites, fake buildings, fake limo companies, etc) crammed onto every available page. Plus, the case itself was dull! A mayor who was taking bribes from businessmen and helping them rezone buildings to commercial.
The will-they-won't-they-catch-him was intense, dude.


In an attempt to take the tension up a notch, the mayor was a little skeevy. No, he didn't do anything, but he looked lecherously at her breasts and ran his finger over her knuckles when they shook hands. I thought that he might try something eventually, but evidently, he was written in as a c-list perv so that John could show off a slightly protective side.


Both Jessica and John were likable characters, and I was rooting for them to overcome whatever obstacles and get together in the end.
Because, OF COURSE, I was.
This was a romance, so I was fully prepared to put aside the majority of reality so these two could get their HEA. I seriously don't expect authors to make things hyper-realistic in this genre because I'm reading these books to get that butterflies in my tummy feeling, you know?
Love conquers all! Wheee!


But the ending was so incredibly over the top that it basically ruined what little enjoyment I had been hoping to find.

Warning: Spoilers!


So, in the beginning of the book, John walks in on his longtime girlfriend fucking one of his best friends. Simultaneously, Jessica is finalizing her divorce. She's just moved back to Chicago to get a fresh start and ends up getting paired with John for an undercover assignment in Jacksonville, FL.
It's important to note that Jacksonville is the 13th largest city. I'm not sure why that's important, but the author mentions that little fact about a million times, so I figured I should throw it out there, as well.
Anyway, they're both coming out of long term relationships. PLUS, John learns fairly early on that he's been accepted onto the Hostage and Rescue team and is moving to Virginia. This has been his astronaut job for a long time, and since he parted ways with his cheating girlfriend he finally felt like he could commit to being part of such an intensive team.
Basically what I'm saying is that these two were in no position to be making life-altering decisions about their relationship after a few months of (sporadic) screwing.
So as the story drew to a close, I figured that they would decide to make a long distance thing work for a while and give their relationship a 'chance'.
Because 5 pages ago they were just fuck buddies!


But with only a few pages to go...?
He suddenly quits his dream job, they both say I love you, they move in together, and marriage & children are now on the table.
What the what?!
No. Just...no.
Either make the story longer or give the story a more (and I hate to use this word in romances!) realistic ending. Because there is no way in hell that two career-driven people who are BOTH dealing with very recent breakups are going to throw that level of caution to the wind.


I love Julie James. She's one my favorite writers. But this was (to me) a serious brain fart on her part. And you know what? I'm ok with that. Not all of them can be winners and I'm sure there are a ton of readers who absolutely loved this story. I'm just not one of them.
Too much boring wah, wah, wah about the FBI shit, coupled with that horrifyingly rushed ending, just didn't make for a good reading experience for me.
Profile Image for Lana ❇✾DG Romance❇✾.
2,052 reviews12.2k followers
April 13, 2017

Nearly fifteen thousand special agents in the FBI, spread throughout the United States in fifty-six field offices, and she had to show up in Chicago for what was quite possibly his last undercover assignment. As his new partner.

God but I love this author. She writes stories that are funny, swoony, full of witty banter and humor, and they just keeps getting better and better! First of all, if you haven't read anything by her yet, you need to rectify it immediately by reading her FBI/US Attorney series. One, because it's AMAZING. And two, because you'll definitely appreciate a few of the cameos in this book. But let's get back to the matter at hand; all of the awesome that was this book.

So let's see? We already know that enemies to lovers is my catnip, and no one seems to write it better than Julie James.
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.

What makes it good is not just the humor interlaced flawlessly throughout the story, but the wit and sarcasm. Her characters are perfectly balanced and equals of each other. I love how James has a knack for writing incredibly endearing and strong female leads. They're just the right amount of witty sarcasm and strength and Jessica Harlow was no exception. After her dedication to her job cost her her marriage, she's looking to dive in further into her work and forget men. She doesn't need them. She certainly doesn't need an incredibly cocky, smart mouthed, Thor lookalike that made her months at Quantico training a living hell. Too bad it appears that he's her new partner for an undercover sting and she's stuck with him. He may know how to start a fire with two sticks and the ass end of a lightning bug, but he's a royal pain in her butt and she won't let him forget it. Digs and sarcasm galore, you guys!

John Shepher is on the track to make the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. He has one final assignment before he finds out, and it may be the longest assignment of his life because his new partner is as equally infuriating as she is sexy. The sparks flew between them when they first met but a simply misunderstanding of intentions turned them into rivals. Now they're older, at a different point in their lives, but the spark hasn't diminished even a little.
Feeling her body tremble, he leaned down and reached between her legs, the words pouring out of him in a low, possessive growl. “I love when you’re on the edge like this. You’re so goddamn sweet. So mine.”

The chemistry between theses two was through the roof hot. What I especially loved was how balanced to each other they both were. John didn't come charging in and unermine Jessica's ability as an agent. She was fully capable and he knew it. They were perfect equals and that's so rare to find in today's romance.

As per usual James fashion there was plenty of sexual tension and humor to keep you glued to the pages. The Thing About Love was a laugh out loud, swoon till you melt, keep you turning the pages well into the night sort of read. I adored it. I simply adored it. I will never get enough of this author and I can't recommend her enough if you love smart contemporary romance with swoony heroes and capable, strong heroines. It was perfection!
Okay,” he repeated. She knew that look. “You’re going to kiss me, aren’t you?” He pretended to consider this. “Well, with all the emotions flying around, it just feels … expected.”

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ARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for Annie .
2,449 reviews818 followers
April 21, 2017

Oh man, I don’t even know how to say this because I never thought I would ever be saying this about a Julie James book but this one really disappointed me. I’ve been a big fan of Julie James from the very start of her career and have read every one of the books she has released, but I’ve noticed that she is veering further and further away from what I liked about her books. While she still has the very strong, very career-oriented heroines, I just don’t think the more recent books have the same fun banter and sexy romance that her first books have.

First of all, I thought the hero of this book, John, to be pretty bland. James did a lot of research for this book, and it’s very evident in the pages. I know she had an FBI agent take a close look at this book so that all the details are correct. The problem is, we don’t need all those details to make a great book. The beginning of this book is very slow. Instead of presenting readers with a hero who has been cheated on, there’s pages and pages of work-related FBI terminology that I personally think could’ve been cut out. Yes, you’re an agent. I get it already. But because there’s so much focus on that, I never got the chance to connect to John at all. There are scenes that are meant to be emotional and make you sympathize with his character, but instead of feeling sorry for him, I felt nothing at all.

The same thing goes for the heroine, Jessica. I like that James has very strong heroines, but behind that there is nothing there to make me actually care about Jessica. I felt like we never really got to the core of her character and instead it’s all about the job.

The romance fell flat and I never smiled once throughout reading this book, which is what used to happen when I read a Julie James book. The only thing that saved me from not finishing this book is the writing. James still writes well, but there’s just too much extra stuff that’s being pumped into the books that the romance and characterization almost seems like a second thought next to getting all the terminology right. I wish she went back and focused on the banter and building that romance from the ground up. Everything else should come after. After reading this, I have no idea if I’ll continue reading this author. I just think she’s fallen so far away from what I used to love, that I wonder if she’ll ever be able to go back.
Profile Image for Shawna.
3,545 reviews4,576 followers
August 24, 2022
Reread/listened to audiobook Aug'2022:

4 stars - Contemporary Romance

Original rating/review:

3.5 stars – Contemporary Romance

I liked this, but I didn’t adore and devour it the way I usually do a Julie James book. It was a bit slow going at times and just didn’t have the same snarky, saucy spark that I’ve come to expect and love from a highly anticipated Julie James read.

To me, the story felt like 75% lives and careers of the hero and heroine FBI agents, with way too much background, information, and excessive minutiae, and only about 25% romance. I really enjoyed the playful camaraderie, sassy banter, teasing quips, and sexy chemistry between badass John and feisty Jessica, but there wasn’t enough of it.

Quite a bit of story time was spent detailing the ins and outs of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), on John’s drive and determination to make the squad, and . So after all that, I actually felt somewhat disappointed that John . But I guess it was romantic and allowed for a nicely wrapped .

While not my favorite from this author, it’s well written and a good read. And I’m still eager, as usual, for her next book. I just wish Ms. James didn’t make us wait so long between releases!
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,905 reviews851 followers
April 18, 2017
Jessica Harlow was one of two women in a class of forty-one FBI agent trainees, exceptional in the academics portion, but just okay in the physical part, making her insecure over those abilities. John had the opposite problem, being a former Army Ranger he excelled at the physical exams and skills on the firing range, but felt intimated by all the postgraduate degrees. At first they both really admire each other, but their respective insecurities played a factor in putting them at odds by the end of the class, and they left on bad terms.

Six years later, they’re both back at the Chicago office, and assigned to work with each other; neither very excited at the prospect. I enjoyed being in on the procedures preparing for their case, and the actual undercover work. I was a little on edge over the inherent danger with their assignments, especially with one of Jessica’s cases.

I liked how the past misconceptions that led to their mutual dislike were clarified quickly, and handled early on. After that, John and Jessica’s mutual respect grew, both admired how adept and good each were at undercover work, and the initial attraction they felt six years back starts to ignite all over again. Very hot! But with John leaving for a new assignment in only a few weeks they agree to keep things simple with no strings attached. After having problems with past relationships over the job, they’re happily surprised at the understanding and support each one provides when difficulties come up, and they just clicked on so many levels! Loved these two together! I was thrilled there was no unnecessary angst or drama with this realistic romance. What originally starts out as a temporary affair turns into yearning for more, and I was crossing my fingers they’d be able to make things work long term.

Julie James rarely disappoints! The Thing About Love grabbed and held my attention, from FBI procedure and casework, to John and Jessica’s past relationships and their current romance I wanted to last forever, I was captivated.

A copy was kindly provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is also posted at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Mackenzie.
86 reviews
March 15, 2019
Song for summary: Haven't Had Enough by Marianas Trench

A fantastic read! The characters are determined, driven, and highly skilled; while the plot is a fast and fun investigation as two old rivals get thrown together for an undercover assignment. Aliases, ancient grudges, an obstacle course, a corrupt Mayer, and two covert operatives will sweep you away in a whirlwind of justice and romance. This is my first novel by Julie James, but it certainly won't be my last!
Profile Image for Jonetta.
2,242 reviews965 followers
May 11, 2017
FBI Special Agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have an interesting history. They attended the academy together and competed against each other full out. Both graduated with not so great opinions of each other. Now, six years later they find themselves in the same Chicago office assigned to the same high profile undercover case in Jacksonville. They're both professionals so of course they're going to make it work...right:)

This isn't one of those stories with lots of action and pivotal moments. It is, however, a wonderfully developed story about these two characters. We begin with John and then transition to Jessica's point of view. I loved watching from the sidelines as these two slowly discovered what we already know...that they are two highly skilled and admirable people who've experienced hard knocks in the area of relationships. They come from close-knit families, are well adjusted and are kinda perfect for each other.

I liked how the story meandered getting to its conclusion. When you really like the main characters and their interactions with each other, it's just fun waiting to see it work out. Jessica's well respected as is John and their constant need to compete with each other make for some entertaining moments. I liked her spirit, his grit and their relationship. The narrator really nails the personality of them both and I enjoyed listening to the story.

Despite it not being formally connected to the FBI/US Attorney series here on Goodreads (which I love), it is #7 as there are characters from the series showing up here. Just be advised. Yes, it stands alone well but for you purists out there, that's the order.

(I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,062 followers
April 8, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Mo.
1,362 reviews2 followers
April 24, 2017

3.75 stars.

An enjoyable read, as are most of JJ books, but there was something lacking in it. Not sure what. Since my last read of her books I have delved into some really riveting books so maybe this was a little tame for me.

Their relationship develops but nothing really happens.

Both characters were great. Liked the banter. And the fact that they had a past but .... I don't know. I was waiting for SOMETHING to happen.

Ah, well, what can you do?

There was one part where she wanted to know what the initial "M" meant in his name. I did too = we never found out. Liked the family dynamics.

Won't give up on this author but hoping that her new book has a bit more of a "WOW" factor.

Profile Image for peachygirl.
268 reviews668 followers
November 9, 2021
I'm done with all of Julie James's books.
So if anyone is wondering, I'll be searching for my life's meaning till I find a good romance author to binge read. 🙈
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,743 reviews6,670 followers
April 25, 2017
Julie James's FBI/US Attorney series is one of my favorites. I'm still not sure if The Thing About Love is part of the series or not...I'm confused...but it was a solid romantic suspense novel regardless. Just know going in that this story is heavy on suspense and light on the romance. I enjoyed the combination but it's important to note since that seems to be the majority of readers' complaints with this book. There was humor, family drama, undercover investigation, romantic tension, and finally that sexy tenderness that Ms. James' excels at. If you are a fan of her writing, check this title out!

My favorite quote:
“But . . . I didn’t even get to say good-bye to the man bun.” “Still with that?” John asked dryly. One time he’d made the mistake of wearing his hair tied back in a knot to work, and, boy, had his squad mates ever had a field day with that. For two damn weeks, all he’d heard was Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair! every time he’d walked into the office.”
Profile Image for Booksingarden.
270 reviews
April 24, 2017
Looking forward to reading it. I do not give ratings before reading - but seeing that someone gave it a one star before reading, I wanted to step in. Julie James is best modern romance writer today. I will be surprised if this is not another 5 star.
Profile Image for Chris  C - A Midlife Wife.
1,558 reviews287 followers
April 14, 2017
Not your run of the mill main stream review today....

This is the first book I was able to read and review by Julie James. I am a sucker for cop drama along with a hot romance so I was excited to check this one out. However, I did have a few issues with this story.

I understand that a writer has a certain formula that is meant to give the back story and build the anticipation. I understand a formula that works - so why be different. But this book dragged on for me because I really disliked the female lead. She was cocky and had a huge chip on her shoulder throughout the entire book. I think the author was trying to make it cute and funny, but it was sooo annoying for me - right from the beginning!

This book also had a long back story and I found myself skimming quite a bit of the book. Things did not start getting interesting, in terms of the romance, until over 60% of the book was done. Plus the main story itself was a bit ho-hum. No real suspense you would expect in a cop story. The book was longer than average, which is fine, if it was interesting.

Once the attraction reached some good anticipation and two started to get involved, the story got better. Not quite as much filler... altho there still was some. And the ending was sooo much better... so a save for me.

John is a hottie and I loved his character. He was interesting and a sweetheart. Loved his brother too! She... and I won't even mention her name coz she annoyed me so much... needs some courses on how to be real and not so flipping competitive. ugh

The author had a great concept but I feel there is too much fluff and not enough real action. That is what I need to keep my interest level at its peak.

Profile Image for Lacey (laceybooklovers).
2,063 reviews10.5k followers
May 31, 2017
Originally posted at Booklovers For Life


It’s been a long time since I picked up a Julie James novel (even though I don’t know why, because I’m a big fan of her work), but reading The Thing About Love reminded me of all the reasons why I love her and her books. She writes such fantastic contemporary romances starring FBI agents in a realistic, believable light. If you want contemporary romance done right, plus a little enemies-to-lovers trope and suspense, The Thing About Love will be the perfect read for you.

Six years ago, Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd first met at the FBI Academy in Quantico, where they ended up with the wrong first impressions of each other and clashing from the get-go. To say they didn’t get along would be an understatement, so it was a relief to graduate and go their separate ways. But now, when John moves back to Chicago after leaving his cheating girlfriend and receives what might be his last undercover assignment before joining the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, he is paired up with none other than his old nemesis, Jessica Harlow.

“John,” she said, her light blue eyes widening in surprise.
“Hello, Jessica.”
Nearly fifteen thousand special agents in the FBI, spread throughout the United States in fifty-six field offices, and she had to show up in Chicago for what was quite possibly his last undercover assignment.
As his new partner.
And here he’d thought HRT tryouts had been hell.

Newly divorced, Jessica is also looking for a fresh start in Chicago. She’s not happy about John being her partner, but she’s determined not to let their past get in the way of their assignment. But the more she’s around John and the closer she gets to him, she finds that her first impression of him might not have gone the way she thought it did. She gains a new perspective on John… and it’s one she finds herself falling for. But with John joining HRT and leaving Chicago in a few weeks, can they make a relationship between them work?

“Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to look at me this way?”
She assumed he was teasing her. “What are you talking about? You didn’t even like me for most of the time we’ve known each other.”
He bent his head before turning to go, his voice low and confident in her ear. “Or may I’m just that good of an undercover agent.”

I absolutely adored this book. The Thing About Love was sweet, funny, kickass – I had the best time reading it. Jessica and John had me grinning and giggling in spades. My heart was honestly so happy the whole time I was reading their story. I loved both their characters and how they made me laugh and swoon. Their banter is the absolute BEST – I loved it! If you’re ever in the mood for something light-hearted and fun about two undercover FBI agents who hate to love and love to hate each other, I highly recommend this book!

Thanks to the publisher for generously providing me an ARC to review.

Quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change in the final version.

Amazon Ebook: http://amzn.to/29u1df3
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/29WKnUQ
Audible: http://amzn.to/2ojdjfV

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Profile Image for Meen.
53 reviews15 followers
July 27, 2017

Profile Image for Mandi.
2,305 reviews724 followers
April 18, 2017
First I have to say, what is up with this cover? At first glance, or from far away, it looks bloody! But it's a broken lollipop? Not my favorite cover, and not my favorite book by Julie James. She writes meticulously detailed FBI agents - you can tell she puts hours, and hours of research into her stories. Some books, an author just slaps on the title of FBI to their characters and keeps writing, but James makes them genuine and as a reader I appreciate that so much.

However, I had a hard time getting pulled into this one and I think it's partly because of the tremendous amount of details. Yes, I am fickle! It's so meticulous, at moments I just didn't want to read every little detail about their life or job. Which sounds horrible to say but it's just what I honestly felt while reading. It dragged the book down for me.

Jessica and John are both FBI agents who trained together at Quantico. Jessica is a former lawyer, and John is a former Ranger. They are both very competitive and had more of stubborn, comptetive relationship at Quantico, rather than friendly. After their training is complete, Jessica heads to the L.A FBI office where she meets someone in the film industry and gets married. But her marriage will eventually fizzle out and she will find herself wanting a fresh start. When an opening in the Chicago office becomes available, she takes it.

Since John was a Ranger, he is primed to be in the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team (or HRT). But instead of trying out, he goes deep undercover in Detroit on a big case for a couple of years, during which his long-term girlfriend starts having an affair with his friend. He too moves to Chicago for a new start.

Nearly fifteen thousand special agents in the FBI, spread throughout the United States in fifty-six field offices, and she had to show up in Chicago for what was quite possibly his last undercover assignment.

As his new partner.

And here he'd though HRT tryouts had been hell.

Since Jessica and John both have undercover training, they are put on the same case...which means these frenimes are reunited and forced to work together. They are sent to Jacksonville, Florida undercover as "shady Chicago business entrepreneurs" to try to catch the mayor taking a bribe from them. As they work together, their enemy status turns more romantic.

When John talks about joining the HRT again, and we learn about the admission process and what goes into it, I was very engaged. And when Jessica goes on a different undercover mission, I was very engaged. I was not so engaged in the mayor who is taking bribes from city officials. It just wasn't that exciting or interesting to me - although it doesn't weight the story down too much.

Jessica and John reunite, and there are definitely some cute moments because they are both so smart, and stubborn - and so competitive, they try to out-do each other at first. They have cute banter, as only Julie James can write and it definitely made me smile at times. But they fall into bed and a relationship pretty easy in this one. There isn't a lot of sexual tension or a lot of passion. It's a sweet romance but there wasn't a lot of fire or fuel behind their relationship. They sleep with each other while in Jacksonville and by the end of the book they are in love. I feel like I needed something more.

I really liked John's character - he is super sexy. A little more gruff because he has that Ranger background, compared to Jessica's sleek lawyer vibe - that worked well for me.

“With all due respect, sir, I'm a Ranger. If I wanted to put badass on my résumé, I think I'm set.”

Overall I liked this book, but it didn't stand out as others have in this series.

Grade: C+
Profile Image for D.G..
1,365 reviews342 followers
July 8, 2017
**4.5 stars**

This. THIS is how is done! THIS is how you show a woman competing in a man's world. Bravo, Ms. James.

Anyhow, that's why I'm rating this book so high. Not because of the romance but because of the characterization. Jessica, our heroine, is a great FBI agent, and she's great because of her smarts, her brain, her resourcefulness, her preparation, her instincts. She's just 5'3" so OF COURSE, she's not in the same league physically as John, our hero, who as a former Army Ranger can probably kill people with his pinky finger. And you know what? John understand that the skills she brings to the table as an FBI undercover agent are actually more important on a daily basis than his ability to kick ass and works very hard on his soft skills. AMAZING!!! People who understand that in this day and age, your brain carries the day in most situations!!!

Jessica and John meet at the Academy while they're training to become FBI agents. They end up aggravating each other to no end, competing fiercely to be the best in everything. 6 years later, they meet again as partners in an undercover sting, right after they both had some heartbreak.

John was probably the most memorable hero in Ms. James' arsenal. 6'4", very physical (the guy is ALWAYS exercising), very capable, smart but still funny and loving with his family. (That he's blond and blue-eyed with a Thor-like body doesn't hurt. ;) Once the relationship with his girlfriend ends, he decides to try out for the Hostage Rescue Team, a super elite counterterrorism FBI team. The tryout was simply hair-raising and brutal so while he's waiting for the news on whether he makes the team, he's paired of with Jessica in an undercover investigation. As they spend more time together, they realize that they like each other very much.

As usual with Ms. James' books, the investigation was very well researched and true to life. It really felt like a real FBI investigation.

If I liked this so much, why am I rounding down?
- Too much going on to explore the relationship: A LOT of the book is about the investigation or spending time with friends/family. I know Ms. James likes well rounded characters that have a life besides their romantic goings on but that meant that in reality, John and Jessica spend little time together. And when they are together, they mostly talk about the case, so this supposed love felt very surprising.
- Post-breakup feelings were left unexplored: Given the way their relationships with other people ended, these two should have been really bitter. I found it unbelievable that such a short time later after their relationships went up in flames, they were confessing their undying love to somebody else.
- Never saw John kicking ass: Why have a character so super kickass and not show him using his mad skillz? What a waste!!!
- Didn't like the solution at the end: I thought they should have gone with Jessica's plan. I know why Ms. James went John's way - that tied everything perfectly with a bow - but again, WHAT A WASTE!

It goes without saying that even with my quibbles, I completely recommend it!

Thanks to Berkley and Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book.
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
7,013 reviews834 followers
April 19, 2017

Well, Julie James just gained a new fan. A new-to-me author that had me enthralled from the beginning of the story to the end, I will definitely be reading her again and again! She is a fascinating author that wrote two characters that had me smiling throughout the story.

I absolutely loved the love/hate relationship that John and Jessica had. It was fun! Their banter brought this story to another level and I would go a lot higher than 5 stars if that was possible. Now, pair the back-and-forth of these two with descriptions of the FBI Academy and I was hooked. I’ve always wanted to visit Quantico and Julie James brought it to life for me.

Now, it didn’t hurt that John was an ex-Army Ranger and a hot one at that. It also didn’t hurt that he really didn’t have an ego but was competitive. Then, add to that that he had his heart broken in a way that you wouldn’t wish on anyone and you, too, will fall in love with this big teddy bear.

Jessica was just what I would picture a female FBI Special Agent to be. She was smart, sassy and just as competitive as her male counterparts. John just rubbed her the wrong way and she let him know it at every turn. She did what she had to do to get through Quantico and she would be damned if John Shepherd would get the best of her.

Fast forward 6 years later, the Special Agent in Charge’s office, Chicago, IL. Enter Jessica. Enter John. Enter the world of She Said/He Said and an undercover operation that pairs them together. Now, this is where it really got interesting and amusing and I couldn’t wait for it to play out on the pages.

I cannot say enough good about this book or this author. You could tell her research was intense (unless she’s a former FBI Special Agent) with her accounts of training, undercover operations and just what needs to be done to catch the bad guy. Her timelines and the fluidity of the story was perfect. All of the characters in the book were witty, enticing and just added more to the story. I loved Nate … he needs his own book. Tara was a hoot and definitely needs to find the one (just not on Tinder). Jessica’s siblings and the texts just brightened up the whole story. But, the one thing that I really admired about Julie James’ writing was how she brought levity into some serious situations and made sure that John and Jessica “connected”. It was a natural progression from hate to admiration to love. She didn’t force her characters into bed, it was just “right”. Julie James showed us that there really is a fine line between love and hate. There is so much more that I could say about this story and her style of writing but I really want you to read this and see for yourself.

Review copy provided by Berkley Publishing for a voluntary review.
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,658 reviews3,254 followers
December 9, 2021
December 2016-Update and New Title
We have a clearer picture of what exactly is up with these FBI Agents...
A Hint of Past History...
Competitiveness, Snark....
And them having a bit of that Hate/Love/Hate thing going on...

Makes their reunion all the more interesting...
Don't You Think....

Now they are on assignment...
Forced close quarters, pretend affection
and personally....

Both free of any entanglements...
Seems to me this might be the perfect way to work out ....

The Thing About Love - April 18th 2017

December 2015
Undercover FBI Agents, Quantico Rivals
This has all the markings of a Julie James novel....

Oh, that's right... It is!

Flirty Little Secrets coming in the Summer of 2016
I wonder what she has up her sleeve now...

For more Reviews, Free E-books and Giveaways

Profile Image for Anita.
2,159 reviews157 followers
May 10, 2017
Loved it! I'm so glad to see that Julie James has returned to her old writing form. Her last three books lacked her trademark humor and the touch of suspense that set her apart from other romance authors. Those elements are back and I'm a very happy reader. I especially loved the Nicholas Sparks jab at the end - just wonderful.

Jessica and John first met at the FBI Academy at trainees. It was a meeting of oil and water from the very beginning. They each went separate ways, but have now ended up together six years later in the Chicago Field Office. John has just returned from a try out for the FBI's most prestigious team, the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). If accepted he is off for Quantico in Virginia in about three weeks. In the meantime, the Jacksonville Field Office needs two agents for a undercover operation and Jessica and John are selected. This operation puts them together and forces them to confront what happened at the Academy and their attraction to each other.
Profile Image for Kay*FindMeInThePages*.
33 reviews12 followers
March 29, 2017
John and Jessica first met at Quantico during their training at the FBI academy. Despite their mutual attraction, they were constantly competing and trying to outwit each other. Neither is sad to see the other go.

Six years later they are assigned as partners on an undercover sting. The old hostilities immediately resurface. Gradually as they work together each shares their perception from their time at Quantico. It becomes the ultimate he said, she said of their time together. But in hearing each other side of the story they gain a greater understanding of each other’s motivations. Soon these two strong, intelligent individuals are working together in a smooth professional partnership that turns into a hot, steamy, no strings relationship. It takes another separation to make them realize what they mean to each other.

This is another strong addition to Julie James’ FBI/US Attorney series. It has all the banter and wit that make these books fun. If you like the other books in the series, this one won’t disappoint.

*ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for AJ.
2,931 reviews958 followers
April 13, 2017
4 stars

I loved this book! Another smart, funny, sexy and romantic read from Ms James!

John Shepherd and Jessica Harlow met while training to become FBI agents. It did not go well. John was a dedicated Army Ranger, the picture of the perfect soldier who flew through the physical aspects of the training, and Jessica was fresh out of law school and an academic wiz. Following misinterpreted motives and misunderstandings they became fierce competitors who couldn’t wait to see the back of each other at the completion of their training.

Now, it’s six years later. Jessica is newly divorced after her marriage to a Hollywood producer fell apart due to her dedication to her job, and John’s long-term relationship has just gone up in flames for the same reason. They both throw themselves into their work, and when Jess’s transfer to the FBI’s Chicago office sees her going straight into an undercover mission, they are both horrified to discover that they are now partners.

I love an enemies-to-lovers romance, and this one is really well done. The animosity between John and Jessica is believable, but the underlying chemistry is very much present, and it’s a delicious mix of emotions as they are thrown together for the first time in six years, and all of that aggression is just begging to come out. The banter is fantastic, and every moment they were together was so much fun!

“You know what? Let’s not do this, after all. I think dredging up the past will only make things worse, and you and I have got to be in sync these next couple of days.”
“That’s fine with me,” he said. “I wasn’t the one who started chatting about the good old days in the first place.”
“Trust me, I won’t make that mistake again … Besides, you obviously have some reading you want to do and I don’t want to hold you up.”
“I appreciate that,” he said, faux-politely.
“I’m glad you’re appreciative,” she said mock-nicely, before turning to her e-reader.
So much for lessening the tension between them.
“You do realize you still make the sassy head movements even when you only think the words, right?” John said.
Jessica glared but remained silent.

John and Jess are fantastic character, both strong and confident, with no baggage, traumatic backgrounds or unnecessary drama. They are both ‘normal’ people, successful and driven in their careers, and determined to get through their mission together as they become the front-line in a longstanding investigation into a fraudulent politician. And, of course, as they travel away together to carry out their job, all of their time together allows them to get to know each other, to re-hash the past and talk about the present, and their long-buried attraction resurfaces.

I loved these two together! The relationship felt so natural with lots of chemistry and sexual tension and a great camaraderie as they move from enemies to friends to lovers, and it flowed beautifully. There’s a great build-up with no stupid behaviour and no game playing, they just go with it, and it all feels so right.

He traced his thumb over her skin. “Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to look at me this way?”

The sexy time is hot and intense, and with the story written in dual POV we get to see them both falling for each other, and what they initially planned to be a short-term affair soon becomes something so much more.

“You’re so goddamn sweet. So mine”

But life has a way of complicating things, and when John is given the career opportunity of a lifetime, they will both be forced to re-evaluate their priorities and what they want from life.

“The thing I want most is to spend the rest of my life with the one person who drives me crazy in all the best possible ways.”

I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, smart, romantic and intriguing read. There’s a lot of detail given about John and Jessica’s case, their jobs, and the various training and political aspects of their work, and while it was interesting, I honestly didn’t feel that I needed to know that much. For me it was all about the love story, and that, combined with how much I enjoyed the characters, was what carried the book for me - though I did think that the different elements of the story were blended really well.

I loved it – a solid 4 stars.

An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Anne OK.
3,571 reviews460 followers
April 28, 2017

The very talented Julie James and her latest book release filled my rainy day with sunshine! Once again, she has written a winner that is engaging, intelligent, witty, and just fun-to-read. A couple of overly competitive FBI agents that are intelligent, sexy, strong, and complex find themselves straddling that fine line between love and hate. The frenemy/lover plot grabbed me from the start, and I read this one from cover to cover without moving from my chair.

The book blurb above gives readers the gist of the tale. There’s not a lot of angst or drama, but there’s plenty of action. From he said/she said dual points of view, the competitive nature of their relationship is intensified. The romance sizzles with heat, but is a slow build to a very satisfactory conclusion. James has a masterful touch in providing sarcasm and sass between protagonists. Her characters are always intelligent, highly capable, and satisfy on every level providing a riveting read. The vocal sparring between Agents Harlow and Shepherd was outstanding entertainment riddled with laughter.

Neither agent expects the surprise that awaits them upon arrival in their hometown of Chicago. Each is hoping for a fresh start after complicated relationships have gone down the drain. Between them there’s also bad history filled with animosity and competitiveness carried over from their FBI training days at Quantico. Things between them are strained. Now they find themselves paired as partners on an undercover assignment.

The story jumps between different locales including Chicago, Florida and Virginia which adds some extra fun to the mix. For a good view of the FBI Academy, we go to Quantico and get an interesting look at a training session for new agents. The undercover case, reuniting Jessica and John after six years, sends them to Florida on several occasions to catch a crooked Mayor with his hands in the till, and who quickly develops a fondness for the attractive female agent which, in turn, brings out a streak of jealousy in her male counterpart. Back to home base in Chicago, readers are treated to quick appearances by a few agents from previous books in James’s popular FBI Series.

The reunion between Jessica and John sparks conflicting emotions. As the competitiveness once again rears its head, the old one-upmanship games are on again, with lots of witty and fun-to-read dialogue flying back and forth between them. Even as worthy opponents, the respect for one another’s capabilities is always evident. If you’re looking for a lot of sexual encounters between the two, you’re looking in the wrong place. But you will find a sufficient amount of top-grade sexual tension with plenty of passion. The romance is real and eventually they end up in bed together. Things get a little more complicated from that point and – well, you’ll just have to read their story to see how it all washed out.

A nice casting of secondary characters included both John and Jessica’s families. I loved John’s brother, Nate, who owns a bar/grill. He’s got John’s back, along with sussing out what’s going on between his brother and the lovely female agent. John’s dad, a retired cop, was thrilled to have his older son back in Chicago after years away. He keeps his feelings close to his vest — a man of few words. Jessica’s best friend, Tara, kept things light and frisky with her online dating updates. That girl definitely needs her own happily-ever-after. Jessica’s family was a fun and supportive group. The inclusion of text messages between Jessica and her matchmaking siblings are a hoot and great comical lift to the story, too.

The devil is in the details, or so the saying goes. I’ve read reviews complaining that were too many details making this story problematic for their enjoyment. With a meritorious background in law with a federal judicial clerkship and a position with one of the largest law firms in the United States to her credit, James knows her details well — and the proof is in her research and presentation. I will never complain because I find pleasure in the added learning experiences that come through these details. She expertly weaves both depth and reality into a perfect blend of real life issues and work-related matters. And that’s just fine with me.

Utterly addictive, THE THING ABOUT LOVE will consume you through the very last line – which is perfectly placed ringing true to the end and leaving you with a smile on your face. Clear your schedule and enjoy!

Profile Image for Karen.
809 reviews1,024 followers
August 21, 2020
He traced his thumb over her skin. "Do you know how long I've waited for you to look at me this way?"
She assumed he was teasing her. "What are you talking about? You didn't even like me for most of the time we've known each other."
He bent his head before turning to go, his voice low and confident in her ear. "Or maybe, I'm just that good of an undercover agent."

Ended up really enjoying this. It took me a little while to get myself invested though. While I know the background stories are important, I felt like these dragged on a little in the beginning. Once I hit about 75% though, the story really took off. I loved John's character, although a little too perfect. And as for Jessica, wasn't impressed at first, she was a bit cliché for a female agent, but she grew on me as the story unfolded. All in all a cute FBI romance. This was my first book by JJ, and I will definitely be reading more.
Profile Image for Mandy.
1,521 reviews221 followers
April 18, 2017
I loved this book so much! John Shepard and Jessica Harlow met at FBI training and became fast enemies. Years later, when Jessica transfers to the Chicago field office, her first assignment is with none other than her training nemesis John Shepard. John remembers training and why they became enemies a little differently than Jessica does. What I love so much about this author's writing is the witty banter between her characters and John and Jessica's frenemies relationship is no different. They don't like each other but the chemistry between them is hot. Add in a bit of action and suspense, a bit of steam and great supporting characters and I wasn't able to put this book down. This is a smart, fun and sexy romance and I can't wait to read whatever this author writes next!
Profile Image for Sharon.
506 reviews272 followers
May 9, 2018
It has been a while since I read a solidly good romance. The love-hate relationship = Perfection.
Here are some of my thoughts:
• Badass heroine. I love her confidence and her can-do attitude. Here is a competent woman who is career-oriented and independent – I love it. She is literally what I strive for.
• John is great too. He’s also badass, and he’s honestly so sweet. I love seeing him and Jessica bantering nonstop. I think the premise of how they met is funny, and it is nice to see how much they have grown up since 6 years ago at the Academy. It’s fitting that they form something now when the time is right because they have both matured, and have experienced many things in their work field already. It is great to see how they both are so good at their jobs but also immensely enjoy it. It makes sense why they are able to bond over this because they have similar values and goals.
• I adore all of the family and friends teasing. I always appreciate when an author takes the time to develop the supporting characters and have them truly interact with the main characters. Nate, Wes, and John’s dad are supportive and hilarious during his whole breakup ordeal in the beginning and then with his job and about Jessica. Tara is great for putting things in perspective for Jessica and being a good friend and Jessica’s siblings are nice, supportive comic relief. Anyway, I love them all.
• This had one of the less predictable and more crazy climax in the FBI scene in the series. I was literally like oh, shitttt when certain conflicts came up.
• I think it would have been interesting to see John officially talk and close up the chapter with his ex and ex friends, like for forgiveness or something like that. However, I guess it’s not necessary because John has truly moved on and they have become irrelevant in his life.
• Also, this is part of the FBI/US Attorney series (should be listed under #6), despite it not being listed currently as part of it. It is so great to see certain cameos from old characters, like Jack and Sam (the OG), and Nick and Vaughn.

Overall 4 stars. I love it and I think it is one of my favorites from the series so far. Hopefully there is more because this serious always has such badass female and male characters!

Things that you might want to know (WARNING: Spoilers below)
Happy/satisfying ending?
Love triangle? Cheating? Angst level? Other things to note?
Favorite scenes?
What age level would be appropriate?
One of my fav authors for love-hate relationships. I miss reading her books 😫😫
Profile Image for Robin.
1,729 reviews65 followers
September 17, 2017
After finding his girlfriend in bed with one of his friends, FBI Agent John Shepherd agrees to take part in the elite Hostage Rescue Team training because acceptance would mean he would move to Virginia. But before training begins, John has one last undercover assignment with the new FBI agent at the office. Jessica Harlow has moved to the Chicago office after her recent divorce. When she sees that her new partner is John Shepherd, she can't believe her luck. She and John graduated from the same FBI class where they were adversaries. Now Jessica and John must work together to bring down a corrupt Florida politician. But working together gets complicated when the sparks start to fly.

This is another great addition to Julie James' FBI/U.S. Attorney series. I loved how the hero and heroine start out as enemies, but learn to trust each other as the story progresses. This is a slow-burn type of romance with a good deal of humor and chemistry. My rating: 5 Stars.
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