Tag: Bluff City series

Guest Review: Too Friendly to Date by Nicole Helm

Posted November 5, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Too Friendly to Date by Nicole HelmJen’s review of Too Friendly to Date (Bluff City #2) by Nicole Helm

One little white lie–one big explanation!

Okay, pretending her sexy boss is her boyfriend is more like a huge white lie. But electrician Leah Santino will take the risk. If her parents think she has someone, they won’t go back to smothering her, and they can all be a family again.

Problem is, Jacob McKnight isn’t just her boss; he’s her friend. And faking a relationship when the Santinos come to visit means those sparks she’s always tried to ignore are hotter than ever. This thing between them is starting to feel real, but Leah has a very good reason to stay independent. Unless that’s one lie that’s outlived its purpose

I usually adore a good friends to lovers story, so I picked up Too Friendly to Date. While I did have a few issues, it was still a fun, touching read.

Leah Santino is a tough, no nonsense electrician who needs a big favor from her boss, Jacob McKnight. (Actually, “boss” is a little misleading, because Leah also has a small financial stake in the restoration company where they all work, though Jacob does still head the company.) Leah wants Jacob to pretend to be her boyfriend when her estranged family comes to visit. She had some serious, life threatening health problems as a child, and as a consequence her parents are overprotective and worried about her. She made up a boyfriend so they wouldn’t stress about her too much, but now that they’re coming to visit she needs to produce a man! Leah and Jacob have always had a competitive, snarky relationship despite a sizzling, unacknowledged attraction. When they’re forced to pretend to be in love for a week, their attraction, and secrets, bubble to the surface.

I love, love, love the interactions between Leah and Jacob. Leah is tough, sarcastic, and confident. She’s clearly great at her job, and it’s neat to see a heroine who’s a skilled tradesperson. Jacob is a funny, genuinely nice guy. He’s strong enough to stand up to Leah, but he doesn’t have a problem with her strength either. Their dialogue sparkles with humor, and the sexual tension and depth of emotion between them is wonderful. Here’s an example of a moment right after Jacob confesses something major to Leah:

But she wasn’t letting go of his arm. Her hand held him there in a tight grip. And that meant he couldn’t step away, and it meant stepping closer was too tempting to resist.

Her eyes didn’t leave his, and she didn’t move away. They just…stood there, and all he could think about was last night when he’d kissed her. A nothing kiss. Seconds at most, born of some weird frustration and none of the heat or sparks he felt standing right here, right now.

He could kiss her this time and it wouldn’t be veiled in pretend, and it would be a hell of a lot better than a peck in the dark.

But in the heaviness of the moment, he couldn’t force himself to act, thinking or not. It felt too important. Everything between them felt too important to complicate with a kiss.

Leah and Jacob are desperately attracted to each other, both physically and emotionally, but they are afraid to step over that friendship barrier. Plus, they each have their own personal obstacles holding them back. But they understand each other in a way no one else does, and that ability to be real, to be honest, is as appealing as it is scary. Seeing them come together despite all that was lovely.

As with most Superromances, there are plenty of Big Issues in this book. I appreciated the way Leah’s past was handled. I actually have a sibling who had a different but serious, scary health issue as a child. Having a sick kid puts intense strain on a family. It is easy to understand how it could rip everyone apart and make Leah act out. (And as the healthy sibling myself, I could also relate to Leah’s brother’s complicated mix of concern and resentment. I’m hoping we might get his story in the future, too!) I also liked that Leah’s overprotective mom isn’t a villain. In the end, we can see that she really is trying to let Leah live her life, but it’s hard for a parent who’s almost watched their child die to ever let go of the fear of losing them.

While the “pretend boyfriend” thing is a little silly, I bought into it because it really did seem like her parents would only be appeased if she had someone to care for her. I couldn’t buy into the abruptness of the resolution, though. Leah never confesses to her parents that Jacob wasn’t really her boyfriend, and given that he’s presumably going to be around permanently, that seems a pretty major omission. I thought her mom’s turn around was also too quick and came without more push back from Leah, which I wanted to see. Moreover, I didn’t feel like Leah and Jacob spent enough time discussing her health issues. Before he really knows all the details and the implications, he’s already signing up with her for life. I felt like they both owed it to each other to lay everything on the table first. I could believe that would happen off screen, but I wanted to actually see more of the resolution.

The end of the book didn’t quite maintain the same depth the rest of the book displayed, but seeing Leah and Jacob together was enjoyable enough to overcome some of that.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

This book is available from Harlequin Superromance. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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