James was Taylor's mentor, but was first introduced as her patient. His lady love, Sophia, was dying, and James needed help adjusting to that, as well as to the long-ago death of his father. Determined to help her friend, Taylor had done some research in Scotland, but found that his father was actually alive and well. After going to Scotland to confront his father and to realize that his feelings of insecurity came from his mother dying in childbirth and the distance between himself and his father. This led to a reunion for James and his father, and the revelation that Sophia had never really existed. James found himself falling in love with Taylor and, although she continued to treat him as a patient for awhile, it soon reached the point where she no longer felt it was appropriate for her to treat him, and suggested he find a new therapist. At this point, James began seeing Brooke Logan, curious to learn what it was about this woman that had Taylor in such fear of her. He and Brooke didn't get too far before Brooke insisted that Ridge accompany her to Paris. When Taylor, distraught over her husband leaving the country with Brooke, took off, James followed her. The two ended up in Big Bear at the center of an earthquake. Convinced they were going to die, James confessed his biggest secret to Taylor -- he was a virgin. Both believing they were going to die, and James not wanting to die a virgin, he and Taylor made love. Although James still cared for Taylor, she was committed to her husband, and James again began dating Brooke. Shortly after the two returned safely to Los Angeles, Taylor went to Egypt for a conference, and James was devastated to learn that her plane had crashed, and Taylor was believed to have perished.
After Taylor's death, James and Brooke got closer, to the point where James proposed marriage, and Brooke accepted. She was becoming better friends with Sheila Carter, who had married Eric after Brooke had divorced him. James began to see something in Sheila that worried him, and wanted to look deeper into her past. Sheila was the least of his problems at the time, though, as Brooke continued to vacillate in her feelings between Ridge and James. James and Brooke finally went to Santa Barbara to get married, but only hours before they planned to tie the knot, Ridge showed up and begged Brooke to marry him. After some thought, and James' best attempts to convince Brooke that Ridge would only hurt her in the end, Brooke chose to marry Ridge. Shortly thereafter, James received a package in the mail -- Taylor's lecture notes. James had no idea how they could possibly have survived the crash, and together, he and Connor Davis decided to look into what had happened, and learned they came from Morocco. James was also counseling Eric at this time in regards to his marriage to Sheila, and after spotting Sheila kissing Connor one day, James advised Eric that he believed he had marriage Sheila on the rebound from Brooke. James eventually agreed to be Sheila's therapist.
Brooke and Ridge ended up in Morocco on their honeymoon, and came face to veil with a beautiful and mysterious woman named Laila. After they returned home to the States, Brooke told James about Laila, and he was intrigued with the fact that Laila just happened to be in Morocco, where Taylor's notes had come from. He tried to enlist Connor's help, but Connor thought that James was trying too hard to convince himself Taylor was still alive. After seeing a couple newspaper photographs of Omar and Laila, James became convinced that she was alive and well and contacted Prince Omar in Morocco using the alias Brewster McKenzie and claiming to be a biographer. While waiting to find out whether or not Omar would see him, James went to Big Bear (now completely rebuilt) with Sheila, and after he mentioned Lauren and Genoa City she flipped out, but before things could go further, James received word that Omar was willing to see him, and prepared to go to Morocco. He went to Morocco to meet Laila for himself and soon realized that it was Taylor. Taylor tried to convince James that she was happy there, but he didn't believe it. He needed to return to the States to deal with Sheila, though, and was unable to convince Taylor to return to Los Angeles with him. After Jack Hamilton had a heart attack, though, James again contacted Taylor, telling her what happened, and Taylor returned to Los Angeles.
James soon returned his attention to Sheila Carter Forrester. He decided to bring Lauren to Los Angeles to expose the truth about Sheila, and was shocked to learn from Lauren about all of Sheila's transgressions. Before he could do anything, though, Sheila and Mike kidnapped him, holding him hostage in the basement of Harry Houdini's old home. By starving him, she forced him to phone Eric and Stephanie to vocally support her, as well as tell them he was leaving town for awhile. When Eric filed for divorce anyway, Sheila was devastated, and James decided that the best way to deal with Sheila was to try to get her to fall in love with him. He allowed her to kiss him, but that ended up getting him severely beaten by Mike, who was extremely jealous. Despite Mike's best efforts to convince Sheila that James was using her, she didn't believe him, and Sheila then seduced James. After Stephanie stopped by the house one day, James tried to get a message to her by tapping on pipes. Sheila then believed that James was dangerous, but he managed to overpower her when she attacked him, and locked her up in the dungeon before fetching help, but she was gone by the time they returned. Sheila eventually took the Forresters hostage at the mansion, and drank poison. She was believed dead, but weeks later they learned she was in a prison mental hospital.
With Sheila no longer a concern, James turns his attention back to Taylor again after Maggie Forrester refuses his dinner offer. Although the judge ruled Taylor and Ridge's marriage legal, Ridge opted to stay with Brooke, which devastated Taylor. Stephanie tried to convince James to stay away from Taylor, but James assured her he was only interested in being Taylor's friend, despite planning a romantic rendezvous with Taylor, who had no idea. Taylor soon began telling James about strange occurrences at her home, but James began to believe she was using it as an excuse to keep Ridge in her life. After Lauren Fenmore announced her plans to move to Los Angeles, she and James began seeing each other. Around this time, Sheila Carter was also up for parole. Although James and the others did their best, Sheila's psychiatrist Dr. Brian Carey was successful in getting her released. Even though James had petitioned to keep her locked inside, he visited her, recommending that she not attempt to continue her friendship with Brooke.
James eventually began dating Maggie Forrester, and it wasn't long before the two were falling in love and planning a wedding. Unfortunately, a drunken one-night stand with Sheila Forrester stood a chance to ruin everything. James and Maggie got married, but Sheila's pregnancy put a crimp in everything. James stayed strong in his vows to Maggie, and he and Maggie made plans to adopt Sheila's baby, which she agreed to. James and Maggie also began trying for a baby of their own. Sheila gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, whom he and Maggie named Margaret (after Maggie), and took home with them. However, Sheila changed her mind about giving her daughter up for adoption and reclaimed her, calling her Mary. James and Maggie embarked on a plan to get Sheila to give the baby to them, which started with them annulling their marriage so Sheila would believe that they were finished, and James had chosen to be with her. In a weird twist of fate and a suicide attempt on Sheila's part, James ended up falling for Sheila, and the two of them began to happily raise their daughter Mary together. Unfortunately, Sheila's jealousy over James' innocent friendship with Stephanie drove a wedge between James and Sheila, and Sheila, after shooting Stephanie, took off with Mary. James searched for the two without success, and after a brief romance with Stephanie, disappeared, not being seen again until Massimo Marone called him in to give Brooke an intervention when she wasn't certain whether Ridge or Nick was the right man for her.