Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Review: About That Night by Julie James

How was everyone's week-end? I spent almost the whole week-end switching the pictures of my blog... and I'm still not done ^_^; Can you imagine?!? I have about another 6 months to go. I can't imagine how much I used to blog back then! The good thing is I added those books to my Goodreads as well and even cross-posted some of the reviews :) Oh and there was a moment of panic when I thought the lightbox image viewing didn't work on my blog. If you're wondering what is the lightbox imagine viewing, it's when you click on a picture and it appears on a grey/black overlay over the content of your browser window. While trying to figure out the problem, I read that sometimes, it was due to the customization of template, etc. So I tried to figure out the html codes, but couldn't... In the end, turns out I simply didn't give my blog enough time to load ^_^; Oups. Anyway, after this week-end, I think I'll be doing next year's Bloggiesta :)

All right, I won't hold you up any longer. I go some comments on my last Hauling Sunday post about how people were looking forward to About That Night :) Since I've already finished it, I thought I'd review it :) Here you go, enjoy!

About That Night by Julie James
published by Berkley in April 2012
He's playing games

Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.

But she's making the rules

Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case — but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants — and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: FBI series, Book #3

The Story: Nine years ago, Rylann Pierce was celebrating the end of her first year as a law student at the University of Illinois when she met Kyles Rhodes in a bar. Sparks flew between the two and they arranged a date to see where it would lead them. Unfortunately, due to some extenuating circumstances, Kyle never picked up Rylann... and the two of them went their separate ways.

Now, Rylann is an assistant U.S. attorney (AUSA) who is looking for a fresh start from a relationship gone awry by moving back to Chicago. Her first case at the Office of Chicago is an agreed motion involving none other than Kyle Rhodes, the Twitter Terrorist.

To their surprise, sparks are still flying between them. However, a relationship between them would not be easy. Especially when Rylann gets a new case about an inmate being killed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, engineered by a prison guard, and Kyle is her only potential key witness.

My Opinion: I really enjoyed Ms James' previous release, A Lot Like Love, and therefore, like many, About That Night was one of my most anticipated read this month. And as soon as I got my copy, I proceeded to devour it :) Overall, I think Ms James has delivered another solid book; however, there was something that bugged me a little and as a result, I did not enjoy this book as much as its predecessor :(

First, let's talk about what worked for me in About That Night: Kyle. I loved, loved Kyle! LOL. He was such a great hero and made the book for me :) I'm trying to think of words to describe him and actually, I think Ms James did it best: (p248)
Twitter Terrorist, billionaire heir, ex-con, computer geek, bad boy - none of those terms came close to describing Kyle Rhodes. He was, simply, a good person, and a confident, intelligent man to boot, and she found that combination absolutely irresistible.
Just like Rylann realized, I loved Kyle because he was such a good guy. Not only that, he was also very genuine. Even though he was a billionaire heir, there was no arrogance in him. Confidence - yes, but no arrogance. You have to give credit to his parents for Kyle's upbringing :) No one could accuse him from being spoiled. He worked to be at the top and he never expected to get his way simple because who he was. I also liked that he was honest with himself, knowing what he did was stupid, but also admitting the reason behind: male pride. I felt that in the 5 months since the whole debacle started, it made him more mature and humble and taken all together, he simply was a great hero.

Something else that I really enjoyed was the interactions between the characters, especially the twin connection. I enjoyed all the scenes with Kyle and Jordo together :P They were just so fun. Their bond was really strong and it was also great for Kyle to know that he could always count on Jordo, that she'd always have his back. It also made me smiled that Jordan had her way with all the men in her life and that Kyle and Nick had to have a bonding session :) I also liked how close-knitted the Rhodes were. I think this is the first time we really see family interactions in one of Ms James' books and she definitively needs to add more if they are going to be this good. And as usual, Ms James added some friendships in the mix and they work well :)

Oh and before I forget, something else that worked for me is Ms James writing style :) Or more accurately, how "current" her books feel. Last year at RWA, I attended a workshop where she was a speaker and Ms James said she liked adding current elements in her stories, even if later, it would date them in the future. In this case, there was a mention of The Hunger Games movie and the whole Twitter aspect. A lot of contemporary romances now take place in small towns or if it's in big cities, it's a bit nondescript. So I find all these little additions very fun and I think it really gives her books an edge.

When it comes to the storyline of About That Night, I think it falls in the middle. I wouldn't say I loved the story, because I think something was missing... perhaps a little action, especially compared to the first two installments of this series. At the same time, I didn't dislike it. If anything, I thought it was interesting. Hmmm, in a way, I'd say it was more akin to Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect in the sense that there was a lot of lawyer-ish stuff and minimal involvement of the FBI. In About That Night, Ms James introduces us to the life of an AUSA and that's what I found interesting. I have to say, before reading this book, I had no idea what was an agreed motion or what was the processes to get an indictment. Also, it was a clever way to bring Rylann and Kyle back together, because I don't think otherwise, they would have gone after each other. However, I have to say when I read Kyle was a witness, I was expecting something a bit more exciting. I thought at the end, the resolution for the indictment was a bit anti-climatic... but Ms James made up for the lack of action and excitement with sexual tension :)

Now, onto what bugged me in About That Night. Basically, it has to do with Rylann. As a character, I didn't have an issue with her. She's the type of person who's very career-orientated and who has a tendency to have plans - 6-years plan for her career, 6-months plan for forgetting her ex, etc. I admit that I have a bit of difficulty connecting with Rylann, but overall, she was a good character. What bothered me though is the way she treated Kyle and her relationship with him. Even in the flashback, she was attracted to Kyle, but didn't want to... and it felt like she was deliberately trying to find faults in him, think the worst of him. That bothered me a little. And then, in the present, she starts this relationship with Kyle. At first, they were simply "hooking up," but even then, she was worried about the consequences of their relationship in her career because Kyle was not only an ex-con, but one that her office prosecuted zealously. And at one point, it just felt like she was "ashamed" of their relationship and that really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, why would you be ashamed of such a great guy?!? Like Jayne in her review for Dear Author, it wasn't such a big deal for a non-lawyer person like me and therefore, the fact that she was "hiding" the truth, skirting the comments of her co-workers when it came to Kyle bothered me greatly. And seriously, if her boss wasn't happy because Rylann was dating the "Twitter Terrorist," well she'd only have her own office to blame. That's another sore point for me, the whole Twitter Terrorist. I thought it was a bit overkill ^_^; I understand the context where they wanted to make an example out of Kyle... but being called a terrorist for shutting down Twitter for two days? Overboard :( In A Lot Like Love, I already thought it was absurd, but hey, it was quite funny. In About That Night, from Kyle POV, not so funny anymore. While thinking of this review, I kept wondering about Kyle's prosecution. I couldn't help but think that his 5 lawyers must have been really bad not to get him a better deal considering the motives behind Kyle's action. Couldn't he have purged the sentence at home with an anklet? A la Martha Stewart? And it's because of these two issues that I find I didn't enjoy About That Night as much as I wanted, despite a great hero like Kyle :(

My Grade: B. As I said earlier, About That Night was a solid book with a great hero. Overall, I did enjoy it, but could have enjoyed it more if it wasn't for a few issues.