I’ve said this over and over, Julie James is one of the best contemporary romance authors out there. Her books are hilarious without being ridiculous, her heroes are sexy and her heroines strong and relatable. All of her stories have been winners to me, Practice Makes Perfect is on my Top 10 list of favorite books, and About That Night was one of my most anticipated books of the year. And that is why I’m so sad to tell you that we just hit a bump in the road because this book was definitely not a winner.
Kyle Rhodes has been on the spotlight his entire life. Son of a multimillionaire, his face has been part of the tabloids for years. However, he really became famous months ago when he hacked Twitter. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds, his super model girlfriend publicly broke up with him through Twitter, he got drunk and thanks to his extraordinary intelligence, managed to shut down the social network causing panic everywhere. He went to prison but thanks to his sister, who made a deal with the FBI, he was released earlier than planned. The day of his last hearing a change of plans brings him face to face with Assistant U.S. Attorney Rylan Pierce, a woman he met years ago and hasn’t been able to forget.
Rylan didn’t expect the Twitter Terrorist to be her first assignment of her new job as a Chicago AUSA. When she first met Kyle the chemistry was undeniable, but fate had other plans and instead of going on a date they never saw each other again. Now they meet again under less than stellar circumstances and even though the chemistry is still there becoming involved is probably the worse idea ever. Kyle is an ex-con, she is an attorney, and now he’s also the key witness in a murder investigation. Not the easiest road to Happily Ever After, or so it seems.
This book had all the ingredients to be great. Ms. James is a talented author with a great voice and that was obviously present. There was comedy, likeable characters and the promise of an interesting plot. Yet, something was missing. My main issue with the book was that I found it boring. Nothing really happens. Kyle and Rylan had a past, they agree to go on a date but he never shows, so there’s potential for some drama there, but things are resolved almost immediately because he has a good excuse and she knows it. I actually thought this was well handled, more realistic than having the heroine angry at a guy she only spent a couple hours with. So this was used just to give them a previous history and not for angst or conflict. They must work together without getting involved because he’s a witness and she’s an AUSA, but that didn’t cause conflict either. He is the main witness in a murder investigation, but that’s not really a subplot -unlike the previous book in the series, there’s no suspense in this book-. And finally, I didn’t feel the chemistry between the main couple, and that’s what really hurt the book for me. Great sex, great banter, but no real connection. I don’t expect every book I read to have an epic love story, but I want to feel the emotion coming through the pages regardless of how subtle the romance is, and that was lacking here.
Kyle was my favorite part of the book. I loved his personality and his easygoing nature, and I liked that he was hardworking and ready to make amends. All the comedy comes from him, so it’s impossible not to love a guy with both sense of humor and loyalty. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and it was great spending time in his company. Rylan, on the other hand, was more serious. She had a sense of humor but she needed to relax first. I liked that she was committed to her career but not obnoxious about it (not too much, at least), and she was a good friend, but I didn't really like anything else about her and found her difficult to relate to. She had some ideas about how things should be, part of it being that she was so career driven, but when things didn't go according to plan she either dismissed them or acted slightly mean about them, and that included Kyle. She was unfair towards him, she was judgmental and unable to see the good guy he was, I think she was the main reason I felt there was no chemistry between them. Or maybe the problem was that I wasn’t drawn to the story, which in turn hurt my perception of the romance and of them as a couple, but I just wasn’t invested in them and didn’t really care whether they made it or not.
I found the secondary characters more interesting than the main couple. They don’t really serve any purpose to the plot except as sequel bait, but I’ll take it. I’m looking forward to their books and hope that by then the magic will be back.
About That Night isn’t a bad book, but is far from great. If this is your first time reading Ms. James’ books, do not start here. If you’re a fan then you probably already read it. I can’t recommend this book but I will recommend everything else by her. Julie James is a must read, especially if you like your romances with a side of comedy.
Review by Brie
Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up, she never expected to see him again. Nine years later, the beautiful assistant U.S. attorney finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courtroom-and still wildly attracted to him. Just released from prison, Kyle isn't thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case. But he may find gorgeous Rylann Pierce is the one lawyer he can't refuse.
Berkley. April 3, 2012.