Sorry, this was supposed to go up yesterday, but life... well, it got in the way.
Oh Julie James, there is just something about you, about the way you write. Is it the witty banter? No, although it is quite wonderfully fabulous. Is it the clean story lines? I love that your focus stays true throughout your books, but it is not that either. The sexual tension that is getting steamier with each book? No, but thank you!
I know! I've got it! Characters. Girl, you know your way around a character. Your heroes and heroines are sharp, intelligent, sarcastic, funny, relateable. All around well-developed enjoyable characters. We like them. We want to find out what happens to them. We root for them. But you don't stop there. You give us more.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Something About You. (Coming soon to a store near you!) Let me tell you, Ms. James does not disappoint with her characters in this one. It all starts with Cameron. A successful assistant U.S. attorney, she is staying at the fancy pants Peninsula hotel. She is treating herself. She has been working hard and deserves some pampering. The hardwood floors in her house are being refinished so instead of crashing with a friend, there she is tucked into bed at one of the most expensive hotels in Chicago... and she can't sleep. Why? "Oh, God! Oh, yes!" ::bang bang bang:: "Oh yes, right there!!!!" And no, she was not the one on the receiving end.
The noisy neighbors continue. And continue. And continue. A living, screaming advertisement for Viagra. Just as she is about to call the front desk to complain... silence. Beautiful, blessed silence. Cameron begins to drift away, exhaustion claiming her. ::bang bang bang:: Seriously??!!?! The front desk receives her complaint. Cameron hears the door open next door. She peek through the peep hole and sees a man leaving. Damn, security won't get to (politely) rip him a new one.
Then the plot thickens. When security arrives no one answers. They enter to find a young woman. Dead. Dun, dun dun!!!!! Talking to police is nothing new for Cameron. She is an attorney, after all. But then the FBI gets involved. Not just any FBI agent. None other than Jack Pallas, the man who blames her for ruining his career!
Now these two characters could have easily been left at that. Julie could have chosen not to delve much deeper in their development. But this is Julie! Of course she gives us more. Cameron's motivations are strong and based on past experience. She isn't perfect and doesn't pretend to be. (Her culinary skills lead her to fill her freezer with Lean Cuisine entrees "neatly organized according to the four major food ethnicities: Italian, Asian, Mexican, and macaroni and cheese.") Jack is a multi-faceted man who can see when he is wrong and fights when he is right. The two are not a perfect match. They don't instantly click. They butt heads constantly, and not only as a way to build sexual chemistry (although they do have tons of that. ) You like Cameron. You may have a friend very much like her. Jack is the guy you want to be with, provided he gets his head out of his ass by the end of your story.
Here's the thing, though. It isn't just about Cameron and Jack. There is Cameron's best friend Collin, who is going through a rough patch of his own. He is hilarious and snarky. Perfect best friend material. He is very real and Julie does a great job of not turning him into a stereotype. Jack's partner Wilkins is one of those characters that makes you hope against hope that Julie will decide to turn this into a series. I would LOVE for him to get his own story. Young and new to the FBI, Wilkins is slick with just a little too much pop culture and fashion knowledge stored in that brain of his. His references to Carrie and Miranda result is some serious ribbing from those around him. He's a total professional when he needs to be, but the perfect lighthearted foil to Jack's brooding attitude.
We know who the "bad guy" is and she makes him plenty creepy in that "I've killed and I don't feel a thing" sort of way. What I did appreciate was how she wrote the character of Sen. Hodges. He could have been a slimy politician. Lord knows we have enough of those here in Chicago. Julie didn't take the easy way out. He was a flawed man. He made mistakes. He wasn't bad. I like that he was not what I expected.
There is just something about Something About You that makes it fantastic: the characters. Julie has a way with them. It keeps me coming back for more. Write faster Julie, write faster!