Please note that I gave this book 4.5 stars but rounded it up to 5 stars here.
This was a cute book. Unfortunately I read book #6 first, so I already knew that how this story would end up. I am still glad I read it though. The hero/heroine were great. Though I will say that James heroes all seem to be over 6 feet tall with dark hair. And the heroines always have long hair to their backs practically and wear it in a high ponytail. Plus they all have high heels. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some women wear ballet flats, or gasp sandals, etc. There was a secondary character that really got on my nerves while I was reading this, and that is the main reason why I gave this 4.5 stars.
Our heroine, Brooke Parker is general counsel for a growing restaurant empire. Due to her busy schedule she barely has time to date. After her latest boyfriend dumps her since she is so unavailable, she starts to think that causal dating is a solution. That way, she can still hang out with a guy, make love, but no strings attached (you know how well this is going to go right?)
Our hero, Cade Morgan, is a former college football star. After a career ending injury, he contracted on the law, and is now one of Chicago's rising Assistant US Attorney's. I have to say, that I actually for once liked the hero in the story more than the heroine. Readers find out right away that Cade has issues. Being raised by a single mom, and having his father abandon him until he was 10, and then abandon him all over again, Cade is not looking to delve too much into his inner democracy. Sorry, I had to include that. Cade and Brooke meet up when the US Attorney's office needs her cooperation to bug one of her restaurant's where a dirty deal is about to go down. Sparks fly, and we get to watch.
I think the main reason why Cade's story was more interesting to me, was that he does have a lot of pain to deal with involving his father. James introduces a character that is close to someone that Cade knows (no spoilers) and I was really tired of this character by the time we get to the end of the book. I didn't like how things got flipped around to suddenly make Cade a bad guy, though he had nothing to do with the situation at all.
Brooke and her best friend Ford with his two dude bro friends are entertaining when they get together. I do like that we have a book that showcases a man and woman who are best friends, who love and support each other, and shockingly don't fall in love or get all hot and bothered about the other one. I liked that. I wish that we had seen more of them interacting in Ford's book, but oh well.
The writing was great, I found out a lot about how at least the FBI and US Attorney's work (I knew some of this, but it was nice to read about it anyway) and the dialogue between Cade and Brooke was great. I don't know why he thought of her as sassy, but whatever. It seems like in this books, any woman that doesn't fall all over a guy is sassy. The flow worked too, I thought the ending of the book with Brooke having to make a choice was great. And her response to that choice was smart too. I liked that for her, it was really about being more available to her family and friends. As a working woman climbing up the ranks at my office, I get it. We work a lot of hours, push ourselves, because otherwise we have to worry about someone eventually saying that we don't seem as committed as we used to be. I liked that Brooke didn't give up her career aspirations for a guy (like most romance novels have the heroine do).
The setting of Chicago shines in this one as well. I really want some drinks and pizza after finishing this book, and I hate deep dish anything.
The ending was once again cute showing the hero/heroine proceeding with life, but thank goodness does not end with a wedding.