Pub Date:April 3, 2012
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)
FTC: Purchased myself
I've read a few Julie James books, and they just keep getting better. About That Night is easily the best one yet.
It takes some skill to make an ex-con, rich boy with a penchant for dating supermodels appealing, but James does that so easily it is almost criminal. Because Kyle might just have made it into my all-time, favorite hero list.
It helps that we meet him long before he becomes the infamous Twitter Terrorist (who had a minor role in James's last book, A Lot Like Love). The title of the book refers to the first time our hero and heroine meet— in their college days at a local hangout. Instant chemistry, a connection, is made, but tragic circumstances end up derailing their first planned first date. Each goes on with their lives, with only a fleeting thought to what might've been.
Fast forward nine years, and Kyle is a disgraced tech executive whose drunken assault on Twitter through DNS attacks (a result of being publicly dumped by his girlfriend on the site) has given him infamy as the Twitter Terrorist. At his last court appearance, he's stunned when Rylann shows up representing the US Attorney's office.
(I just have to say, there's something about the heroine's name that my brain cannot process. I have to keep looking it up because I can't remember it, spell it, nada.)
There's something about Kyle that is so compelling. As a character, he has flaws. And you'd think the juvenile attack on Twitter would overshadow everything else, but as you read, you discover he is incredibly kind, solid, dependable, and considerate. He's also smoking hot! And you learn that the Twitter incident was an aberration rather than an indication of his character. He doesn't have a growth arc so much as a reveal. We get to see more and more of him as the story progresses. It's Rylann (did I freaking spell that right?) who has some growing to do.
There really isn't an external conflict in this book. That's something I really, REALLY liked, but others may find it too thin for their tastes. I like the fact that the only problems they need to navigate are internal ones. Rylann is in a new city, with a new job, and is hyper-aware of just how much her relationship with Kyle could threaten her future. Kyle is trying to rebuild his life and reputation after his stint in prison and public humiliation.
The only minor niggle I had was the info-dumpage about the US Attorney's office. It wasn't blatant ( I admit to being hypersensitive to this) but I think there was a more organic way to describe the office, the people, and the layout. It probably jumped out so glaringly because the rest of James's writing is so polished and smooth. And, in all honesty, I'm betting 99% of readers won't notice it at all.
This is a classy, emotional contemporary romance that is tremendously re-readable.
My Grade: A-