A few weeks ago, I was walking around Barnes and Noble, feeling really good about a job interview I had just been on (unfortunately that didn't work out) when some random woman saw me looking at the shelf of Julie James books and started talking about how good her books were. Of course, I had heard of Julie James before and I had been told several times how good she was, but I'd never read any of her books before and how much she loved this book. I stood there, trying to decide between this book and the new Victoria Dahl (I chose the Dahl) when I looked at the page count. 274 pages. I couldn't remember the last time I read a book that short, and I wasn't sure about spending $7.99 on a book with less than 300 pages, so instead of buying the book then, I decided to borrow it from the library first. (I quickly realized that it was the latest in the series and that there were 3 others that came before it. I decided to read those first, and I am really glad because I am not sure that I would have continued with the series if I started with this one.)
I had a two problems with this book.
1. Too much build up, not enough pay off. Almost the entire book was about how neither Cade nor Brooke were willing to commit to a real relationship because they were both gun shy (although in different ways), and by the time they both realized that they wanted more than just sex, there was only about 50 pages left--50 pages in which they spent almost no time together. (At one point, I looked up at the page number and realized there were only 5 pages left and I found myself wondering how there was going to be a HEA when the characters barely knew each other.)
2. The main characters couldn't communicate. I liked both Cade and Brooke--I really did, but they didn't spend quality time together. It seemed that if they weren't being sarcastic they were fucking like bunnies. Don't get me wrong, the sex scenes were hot, but in a romance novel, the sex is supposed to complement the love story not take the place of it, which is what this felt like. Neither of them were willing to talk to the other. They both wanted more than what they had, but they were too afraid to say anything about it. Cade, at least, knew there was something wrong with him. Brooke, for some reason, didn't. Her boyfriends all told her that she wasn't a "big picture kind of girl," but she and her friend, Ford, both insisted that the problem was with them and not her. However, that is not the case. She wasn't looking for the big picture; she claimed she was, but she wasn't. Then when the last boyfriend, the Hot OB, left her, she used it as an excuse to try casual relationships. Unfortunately, she didn't tell Cade that. From the very beginning they were on two different pages, although Cade figured out what she was getting at pretty quickly. Never once did they talk about their relationship--not until the very end when they declared their feelings.
In the end, I do like James's writing style, but this book is not a keeper. (I did eventually buy it after realizing that there were a lot of people on the library's waiting list.) At least now I have a book to donate to Lady Jane's Salon next month.
(If you want a good book by Julie James--a book that involves a real emotional arc, you might want to try About That Night, which is the book before this in the series, although all 3 of the previous books were really good.)