Book Review

Something About You by Julie James


Title: Something About You
Author: Julie James
Publication Info: Berkley 2010
ISBN: 9780425233382
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book CoverThree years ago, U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde worked closely with Jack Pallas on an investigation that went totally FUBAR. His career was in the toilet, and he blamed her for totally screwing him over. He ended up in the remote wilds of some place that wasn’t Chicago nursing a big old asshurt over how wrong things went and doesn’t expect to see her again – until she overhears a murder in a hotel room next door to her own, and Pallas is assigned to the case.

I don’t think I can do justice to how freaking fun this book is. Something About You is a perfect storm of awesome. From first impressions to the last page, it’s worth shaking your tail feather over.

Part Awesome the First: Cover is unique, hot, and also eye-catching. And in fact, the cover art reflects a dress that the heroine wears – how in the world did James pull that off? I suspect chickens and voodoo were involved.

Part Awesome the Second: from the first scenes, the dialogue is dry champagne crossed with poprocks. (That’s a good thing.) It crackles, it’s funny, it makes you laugh, and it isn’t ever fake or cliche or completely unrealistic. These are smart, intelligent people who speak like normal humans and don’t ever mouth cliches unless they’re using one to tell the other off.

Part Awesome the Third: there’s plenty of conflict for the plot, between the history overshadowing Cameron and Jack, and the murder she heard overnight in the hotel room next door, and the mystery of who did it, and who completely screwed up that other investigation three years ago. But James excels at writing characters who are so real they bring understandable and realistic conflict to the story that isn’t ever too much to believe. It’s not top-heavy, and the mystery of what happened in the hotel isn’t more or less important than what happened three years ago, or a few days prior between Cameron and Jack. The characters themselves are so vivid and real, and so interesting, the plot could have revolved around the typesetting of the phonebook for HoHoKus, New Jersey, and I’d have been reading page after page.

Part of James’ deft character building skillz include the redevelopment of traditional and expected character roles. The best friends are real, and if there’s a potential for cliche, it never goes where I expected it to. She updates and then redeploys the expected trope, and makes each character, not just Cameron and Jack, into amazing people. There was real emotion for each, and no limited role for any character.

For example: meet Cameron’s best friend Collin is something of a local celebrity. He’s also gay, with relationship problems of his own, and not once does he veer into stereotypical typecasting as “Ye Olde Gayye Best Friendde:”

“And I haven’t even told you the twist,” Cameron said. “Jack Pallas is one of the agents handling the case for the FBI.”

It took Amy a moment to place the name. “Wait—Agent Hottie?”

“Agent Asshole,” Cameron corrected her. “Agent Hottie” had been her former nickname for Jack, one long since dropped. Ever since he accused her of accepting bribes….

“That is a twist. How is Agent Asshole these days?” Collin asked dryly. As Cameron’s best friend, he was de facto required to exhibit animosity toward Jack Pallas as well.

“More important, how was it seeing him after all this time?” Amy asked.

“We traded sarcastic barbs and insults the whole time. It was nice, catching up like that.”

“But is he still just as hot?” Amy exchanged a look with Collin. “Well, one of us had to ask.”

“That’s kind of irrelevant, don’t you think?” Cameron managed a coolly disdainful look as she took a sip of her wine. Then she swallowed too fast, nearly choked, and coughed while gasping for air.

Amy smiled. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Cameron dabbed her watering eyes with a napkin and turned to Collin for help.

“Don’t look at me—I’m staying out of this one,” he said.

“I would like to remind both of you that the jerk embarrassed me on national television.”

“No, the jerk embarrassed himself on national television,” Amy said.

Cameron sniffed, partially mollified by this. “And I’d also like to point out that because of him, virtually every FBI agent in the Chicago area has carried a grudge against me for the past three years. Which has made things tons of fun, considering I work with the FBI on a near-daily basis.”

“You don’t have to see him again, do you?” Collin asked.

“If there is a god, no.” Cameron thought about this more seriously. “I don’t know, maybe if there are some follow-up questions they need to ask. But I’ll tell you this: if I do see Jack Pallas again, it will be on my terms. He may have caught me off guard last night, but next time I’ll be prepared. And at least I’ll be dressed appropriately for the occasion.”

“What was wrong with the way you were dressed?” Amy asked.

“I was wearing yoga pants and gym shoes.” Cameron scoffed. “I might as well have been naked.”

“Certainly would’ve made for a more interesting interrogation.”

Collin sat back in his chair, all haughty manlike. “You and your high heels. You’re lucky you weren’t still in your underwear. Between that and being interrogated in your gym shoes, which would you prefer?”

Cameron thought about this. “Do I still get to wear high heels in the underwear scenario?”

“That was supposed to be a rhetorical question. You have a problem,” Collin said.

Cameron smiled. “So I like to vertically enhance… I’m a five-foot-three-inch trial lawyer. Cut me some slack.”

There’s no “As you know, Bob,” crap, nor is there any tired dialogue that says nothing and takes up space. It’s hilarious and awesome. Cameron, Jack, Collin, and Jack’s FBI partner Wilkins are never stupid or mean or boneheaded. If there’s fighting – and between Cameron and Jack there’s some fighting, there’s enough of a clue from a gesture or a momentary expression to reveal that their tempers get the best of them for a very hot reason.

The plot also reveals the villain and spends some time in his head – but it doesn’t become fearsome or tiresome, or an exhaustive list of How Psychologically Fucked Up Is That Guy OMGWTFKITTENKILLER.

My lone point of discomfort was how very, very neatly and bow-wrapped glittery perfect the ending was, with every loose end tied down and each piece of perfect lined up flawlessly. It had an overwhelming fairy tale aspect that didn’t fit with the realistic honesty of the characters and the plot.

Jayne mentioned in her review at Dear Author that Cameron and Jack listen to each other – oh, yes, they do. They professionally and personally listen to each other, because they’re adults (and because they have to listen to make sure the next verbal gauntlet hits the mark). I’ve been disappointed by some contemporary romances lately because the characters are so even, so rational, so dead boring grown up that there’s no conflict. Here, the characters are grown ups who lose their tempers and act in anger, but who can carry themselves professionally and apologize to each other. (That is some hot sexy right there). What I enjoyed most was that this book featured a heroine I admired and learned from, and a hero I admired and learned from. This is a contemporary romance well worth savoring, and laughing over, and reading all over again.

This book is available at most book retailers including Amazon, IndieBound, Book Depository, Powell’s and All Romance Ebooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. Kim says:

    Thanks, Sarah, for the review!  It must be kissmet as I just received Julie’s bookmarks from her publicist for the literary programs here in Pearl Harbor.  Looking forward to reading this adventure!

  2. Niiiiiccee.  I’ve been jonesing for some fresh suspense. Win!

    Oh, and LOLing at ‘nursing a big old asshurt’. I’ve been living with the unhusband’s melodrama (not my fault, TG) for a week, and wasn’t sure what to call it. Now I know! Snerk.

  3. Kristin says:

    Oooh, I just won an Amazon gift card.  I know what is going on my too buy list.

  4. I adore Julie’s books! Can’t wait to pick this one up. Great review!

  5. Scorpio M. says:

    RE: dress

    Tidbit: Julie mentioned on Dear Author that she actually changed the dress from a black strapless to what the cover model is wearing after she saw what the design team came up with.

    no voodoo!

  6. Beki says:

    Okay, THIS sounds like something good to read on a cold night.  Yay!

  7. Tracy Wolff says:

    I’ve been waiting for this book for what feels like forever!  Glad today is here 🙂

  8. Julie James says:

    I like the chicken/voodoo story better re: the dress.  I’m going with that one from now on.

    Sarah—thank you so much for the fantastic review!  I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book, and I cracked up reading this.  “Dry champagne crossed with poprocks”—and here I thought I was the only one who mixed those two together.  😉


  9. Laura (in PA) says:

    I just read a post from a friend of mine on Facebook that she couldn’t wait to go out today and get this book. Then I come here and there’s a great review. Seems like the Gods are telling me something…

  10. quichepup says:

    I’m happy to say I put copies of this book on an endcap at work today, near top at eye level. I just thought it had a pretty cover but glad to know it’s a good read too. I may pick it up myself.

  11. sandra says:

    Mrs giggles just reviewed this book.  She gave it a rating of 85.

  12. Lynne says:

    I have been so looking forward to this book!

  13. Cat S. says:

    Oh, for Pete’s sake!  Had it in my hand at the bookstore tonight. [sigh]  Guess I’ll just have to go back!

  14. Marilyn says:

    Great review and the book sounds wonderful.

  15. Randi says:

    Based on here and the review at Dear Author, I picked up this book yesterday. I am nearly done and I have to give the author some major kudos. The writing is supberb, the dialogue is, as SB Sarah mentions, “real”, and the plotting is tight. I am thoroughly enjoying the read and am glad to have picked up a new author.

  16. Leah says:

    I bought this yesterday based on your review, and loved it!  Thanks so much for recommending.

  17. Glynis says:

    I bought this on your recommendation. What a fun story—truly enjoyable with characters that felt three-dimensional. So THAT’s what I’ve been craving.

    A good read. I’ll be recommending it to friends.

  18. Carolyn says:

    Between your very witty review and DA’s … well, I bought the book.  Now waiting expectantly for delivery.  Any day now – it’s been shipped!!! (no bookstore in my town 🙁 )

  19. karma says:

    I generally read very few categories, but this review makes me so curious I’ll get my hands on this book. Hope it lives up to the expectations …

  20. Kelc says:

    Read your review (and Jane’s)….bought the book…read the book. I don’t often read contemps, but this one was worth the sticker price. I’m tired of couples’ internal struggles against the relationship, especially when the strongest argument is “I just shouldn’t” and “it’ll never work”.

    It was nice to read about them getting over themselves quickly and not constantly reminding themselves of the past.

    I’d do Jack. And after you read this story, you would too.

  21. chisai says:

    I bought this book on based on your review, and boy I’m glad I did.  What a wonderful, charming thing it was.  I loved it.

    And @Kelk, seriously who wouldn’t do Jack?

  22. RomanceFan says:

    LOVE Julie James. Single-handedly redeemed the contemporary genre which has been veering sharply towards Pure Cheese. And GREAT point on the cover dress actually being a part of the story. I swooned my way through the book.

  23. Alpha Lyra says:

    I’m glad you found and reviewed this book. I bought it based on this review and enjoyed it immensely. Then I bought copies for two of my friends who had birthdays this month. I haven’t heard back from one of them yet, but the other said she loved it so much she read it in a day, and now it’s making the rounds through her friends.

  24. Mp3 dinle says:

    @karma i agree with you…

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