Sunday, April 22, 2012

About That Night by Julie James

Book Description:
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.

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..

Another winner from Julie James - I am in love with her writing! I loved, loved this story of Kyle Rhodes and Rylann Pierce. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down. Great story, great chemistry, snappy dialogue and a legitimate quandary about their relationship. I didn't want it to end!

When I first heard that James' next book was going to be about Kyle Rhodes, twin brother to Jordan, the heroine from her last book, I was not overjoyed to hear it.  The fact that he was supposed to be a billionaire, good looking dead ringer for Sawyer on "Lost" (I've never even seen the show) did not wow me.  I thought this was going to be the story of how a spoiled trust fund baby playboy can change his roguish ways thanks to the love of a good woman who teaches him how to be a responsible grown up.  Yes, About That Night isn't too far off the mark from that scenario, but I was wrong to pre-judge.  In fact, my reaction was very similar to Rylann's the first time she meets Kyle  in a campus bar at the end of her first year of law school.  As he turns on his charm to get to know her better, she writes him off, wanting nothing to do with him, convinced he's only interested in a one night stand.  Yet, he manages to worm his way into her good graces and walks her home that night, lending her his flannel shirt when she gets soaking wet.   They share an unforgettable kiss good-bye and he asks her for a date for the following night.  Against her better judgment, she acquiesces. What happens on their date?  He stands her up, succeeding in fulfilling all her preconceived notions about privileged rich kid jerks.

On the surface Kyle Rhodes is the son of a billionaire who has had it easy most of his life.  He dates Victoria Secret models, drives an amazing sports car and is devilishly good looking.  Is it any wonder my initial reaction was just like Rylann's first impression of Kyle?  It just goes to show, you cannot always go by first impressions.   About That Night picks up where A Lot Like Love leaves off and James' goes back to the winning formula borrowed in part from Pride and Prejudice (a favorite of mine) in which you cannot judge a person based solely on the size of their bank account and, in the case of Kyle Rhodes, if they also happen to be an ex-con.  I'm over-simplifying the plot line, but that's basically what happens.

Fast forward several years later.  Rylann is now a successful U.S. attorney, newly arrived in Chicago from San Francisco after recently breaking up with her long time boyfriend.  What has Kyle Rhodes been doing?  He's been in jail.  Yes... jail.  Because he hacked into Twitter after a humiliating public break up with his Victoria Secret model girlfriend he broke all sorts of federal laws and was sentenced to jail time.  Although, he was only there for a few months, he technically is now an ex-con and is faced with an uphill battle of having anyone take him seriously.  He and Rylann's paths cross in court at the time of his release (thanks to some deal making in A Lot Like Love).  Of course, both remember "that night" and the sparks fly between them once again.  This time, they're captured on film together and a picture of Kyle looking at Rylann's boobs is plastered all over the newspapers.  Of course, they both deny that's where his eyes are directed.  I loved this scene when they meet again.  James' courtroom scenes are her forte, they are the BEST!  Rylann is cool, calm and collected on the outside, but inside Rylann is simmering.  Kyle is even more handsome than ever and Rylann has already forgiven him for the way he stood her up all those years ago.  It turns out on the same night as their date his mother was killed in a car accident.  I'd say that a pretty good excuse.

Once they meet again they are thrown together often because he agrees to help her as a witness for a case she's working on about a shady prison guard and the murder of an inmate at the same prison where Kyle was serving time.  I won't go into the details of the case, but it serves it's purpose in bringing Kyle and Rylann together again.  He wants to see more of her and this is a great excuse to get close to her.  They become friends again by working together, but their mutual attraction complicates things and creates an ethical dilemma for her.  He's her main witness in a case and it would be completely wrong for her to date him at the same time.  Plus, she's new to her Chicago office and he's an ex-con, the notorious Twitter Terrorist her office went after ruthlessly.  How can she possibly date him?  She'd come across as completely unprofessional and it could probably damage her career irrevocably-or so she thinks.  Once the murder case wraps up, that solves one part of her dilemma, but Rylann is still really hyper sensitive about what her new office's reaction will be about her dating him openly.  She's convinced that the fact he was in jail, no matter how briefly, will reflect badly on her.  They decide to see each other on the sly, but Kyle becomes dissatisfied with the arrangement and begins to feel like she's embarrassed to be seen with him.  You see, Kyle is trying to get past the Twitter debacle.  He has a great idea of how to start up his own Internet security business and wants to be taken seriously.  It irks him that he and Rylann can't go public with their relationship.  Does she care enough about him to risk her job?  This is the big dilemma in the novel.  What does he have to do to earn her approval?  And why should he have to earn her approval in the first place?  Shouldn't she accept him for who he is as a person and not his public persona as the Twitter Terrorist playboy billionaire heir?  I sympathized with Kyle more than Rylann, but she has her reasons.  She's the new girl in the office, her last boyfriend really did a number on her and as a woman in a man's world in the U.S. Attorney's office, she feels a need to be taken seriously.

This is where Julie James excels, she shows us both sides of the coin, but for the most part, I identified with Kyle more often than Rylann.  In fact, the whole book is really Kyle's story.  His fears, his insecurities, the poignant love for his sister and father after his mother's death and his desire to become successful without the help of his father.  Now add in his need to have Rylann's unconditional love.  We see Kyle come a long way from that guy Rylann first met in Urbana.  Kyle is smart but he has to be respected in the computer industry as well.  Even though he's a whiz when it comes to computers and the ins and outs of security he's facing an uphill battle to get over the Twitter episode and it's repercussions.  He has a great idea for his business and runs with it.  I loved how we see the whole thing come to fruition and how he launches his new company - it was great!  I was so happy for him, I won't spoil it all, but he cleverly manages to find a way to clean the slate and start over.  Yet, as much as things are looking great for his new company, there is still that nagging worry about Rylann and her preoccupation with her job and reputation.  Things come to a head between them, he doesn't want to sneak around anymore and she's going to have to make a choice.  Either it's him or her job.

I won't tell you what happens next, but I can assure you there is a happy ending. This is a winning contemporary romance, albeit it may seem dated twenty years from now, but it was a fun read.  Third in her U.S. Attorney's office series, I also enjoyed seeing some of the old favorites from the previous books, particularly Jack Pallas from Something About You, one of my all time favorites!   

Julie James is an auto-buy author for me.  I expect her books to have loads of humor and snappy fast paced dialogue which keep the stories moving forward all the way to the end.  They're tight and well written, no dull parts which make them quick reads as well.  I always identify with her characters and laugh and cry along with them.  Did I mention the sex scenes are hot as well?  *fans self*  You can't go wrong with her books!

This is a keeper!  Read it and enjoy!



Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

i don't read a lot of contemporary romances, but her books always sound great!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I don't read contemporaries very often, but I love Julie James - she's one of the few exceptions.

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