It was completely at random that Beth Ellen and I both read and reviewed this one so close together, and our takes on it are remarkably similar.
This is a contemporary romance set in Chicago between two neighbors with a little bit of the hate to love theme. Ford is a journalist and Victoria a divorce attorney. Each are very good at their jobs and live for their work. They are both in their early thirties and don’t see themselves settling down with the typical marriage/kids scenario. Victoria has some childhood trauma from her parents’ divorce and also sees families falling apart every day at her job. Ford’s father was an alcoholic and he knows that has caused him some issues, but also he’s just a typical guy enjoying his ‘freedom’ for now. Victoria decides to help Ford’s sister with a family law issue she is having, and the two spend the time getting to know each other.
The plot appeared to be headed towards a Big Misunderstanding as the conflict between the characters, but it sidestepped that route at the last minute, and the reason to not be together was a realistic one. Too often I feel contemporaries push the realism boundaries just to have a conflict between characters. These were imperfect people trying to protect themselves and their feelings. Also, I really, really loved the epilogue where they were not magically fixed and they decide to work on their ongoing issues together. That kind of emotional maturity is appreciated.
I had read one other Julie James book before (Something About You) and it was more of a romantic suspense book. I had been expecting the same here, and this did not have those suspense elements. I actually prefer straight contemporary, so once I stopped waiting for the Big Bad to show up I was able to settle in and enjoy the story a bit more. There was nothing groundbreaking here, but the characters were realistic and enjoyable and there was definitely some funny banter and fairly steamy sex. I won’t ever reread it, but it was pleasant while it lasted