Originally posted on Goodreads May 4th 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.
This is the point where I say you either like how Julie James writes or you don’t. I do think she writes better contemporary romance than most, but it’s not ideal for me either. I have my pet peeves like over-repetition of certain jokes, the missed opportunities with familial interactions, and nipples. That’s all I’m going to say about the sex scenes this time. Nipples.
The story starts slow with an in depth look at the events that took place nine years earlier. Even when the story jumps ahead to present date, it takes time for the couple to meet. Both Rylann’s life after college is established, and the events from the previous book paraphrased to explain Kyle’s current situation.
As per usual—she says with the voice of experience of reading three books of the same series—Julie James creates three dimensional characters with thought out motives and strong friendships. There’s always more under the surface and this is emphasised with a character like Kyle Rhodes.
In A Lot Like Love Jordan Rhodes was said to have a recognisable face from the Chicago gossip columns, but it wasn’t an all-pervading part of her daily life like it’s for
Josh Kyle—dammit Alicia. His mugshot and heir apparent status ensure that every stranger has an opinion on him. There’s a public image he exudes, but excluding three people who have known him longer than a decade no one really knows the private side of him. So far that hasn’t been a problem, and Josh Kyle actually prefers it that way.
Then Rylann Pierce walks into the courtroom and back into his life.
The fact that they almost had a date in college makes Rylann just curious enough to let herself bend the rules and divert from her twelve-year-plan. She’s a good girl prosecutor who plays by the rules, but with Kyle she makes a few new rules. For Kyle, who is used to playing games, this is a novel experience. They play these power games to the point where it made me uncomfortable. I assume it was done to heighten the sexual tension, and it did, but it also made me realise that I didn’t like Rylann very much. Not at that point at least.
Still, their behaviour was true to their characterisations and, like always with Julie James, that drove the plot. Sure, there were external obstacles too, but the biggest problems Rylann and Kyle had with their relationship, came from within. Rylann’s need to plan ahead and exude a certain kind of image because of her work, and Kyle’s need to turn his life around and let go of a few grudges dictated their interactions.
I especially like how Julie James’ characters don’t always get what they want. It doesn’t matter whether or not an apology is justified or not, when they don’t get it, they act like an adults and move on with their lives. They don’t throw huge tantrums that artificially kick start a romantic comedy and drive the plot. There’s something very real about them. So real, that I’m always disappointed when there’s not enough room for one more scene of “meet the family.”
Julie James needs to stop doing that.
She needs to stop creating stellar secondary characters like Nick’s Italian mother, or Kyle’s father Grey, or Rylann’s busybody mother and not have them meet the significant other their child is dating. I was beyond disappointed that Nick’s mother didn’t suddenly turn up in Chicago to meet this girl his son had talked about, because I really, really wanted to read that scene. I know the author aims for realism, but dammit, this is a book:
Bend the rules a little and have the characters do something outrageous.
Or at least explain their motives a little better. While I’m not heartbroken that Kyle never got to meet Rylann’s mother in this book, I would have liked to have those comments and phone calls explained a little better. As it stands, her mother’s only function in this book was to guilt Rylann into wanting to stay away from Kyle. Sure, I understood Rylann’s motives, but I never understood why her mother would call to talk about the Twitter Terrorist if she didn’t suspect there was something going on between them. And I never got an answer for that.
I’d really like an answer to that. I’d really like to read in-between-novellas where Jordan is introduced to Nick’s family, and Kyle has to win over Rylann’s retired paralegal mother. I’m not above bribery either. Some good wine and chocolate should do the trick, don’t you think?