Tag: Rowena’s Reviews

Buddy Review: Highland Deception by Meggan Connors

Posted July 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Buddy Review: Highland Deception by Meggan ConnorsReviewer: Tasha and Rowena
Highland Deception by Meggan Connors
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Publication Date: March 17, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 300
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

When Kenneth Mackay, long-banished rogue and thief, returns to the Mackay holding at the request of his brother, he has no idea what he might find. He certainly doesn’t expect to be confronted with his twin’s imminent death, or with the plan his brother has concocted.

Ten years before, Malcolm made a tragic mistake, and, to preserve the family name—and his own skin—he allowed Kenneth to take the fall. Now that he is dying without an heir, Malcolm plans to atone for his mistake: by giving Kenneth his life back. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the unexpected return of Lady Isobel Mackay, the daughter of an English marquess... and the wife Malcolm didn’t want.

Isobel barely knows the husband who abandoned her even before their marriage, and she'd long since given up on having a real marriage with him. Yet when she returns to the Mackay holding far earlier than expected, she finds her husband a changed man. Despite the hurt between them, Isobel's heart responds to this man who cares for his entire clan as if they were family. Who, for the first time since their marriage, cares for her as if she is, too.

Falling in love with her husband had never been part of Isobel’s plan. But when their future is suddenly in peril, Isobel must find a way to save him—from himself and from the deception threatening to tear them apart.

Kenneth MacKay has been living his life on the run ever since he took the fall for his brother’s actions but when he is summoned home because the very same twin brother, is dying, his life is about to take a very interesting turn. Kenneth is going to step into the life of his brother and his life is never going to be the same again….especially when he meets his brother’s wife, Isobel, a woman that if Kenneth isn’t careful, can steal his heart.

Rowena: So who was surprised that my sister chose a historical romance for this month’s book of the month? I’m not. I am, however, surprised that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I hoped I would have. There were too many things that annoyed me but let’s start with what you thought. Did you like it or nah?

Tasha: I wasn’t surprise either with Blanche’s historical pick, hahaha! Actually I expected her to select a historical romance, specifically a highlander romance. This was an okay read for me. I didn’t like it all that much but I didn’t hate it either. Just wish it was better. I know I won’t be doing a re-read of this.

Rowena: Same here. I mean, it was fine but not great or even memorable. Are you surprised that Blanche LOVED this one though? Haha.

Anyway, what did you think about Kenneth and Isobel? Did you like them? Was their romance believable?

Tasha: You know me, I love the whole “happily ever after ending”. I am happy Kenneth got the girl and the lands in the end. I can’t believe how his own twin brother would do him dirty like that. Now did I like them? Kenneth, yes. Isobel, there were moments I didn’t like her so much. Their romance could’ve been better.

Rowena: I agree that this book could have been a lot better. There were far too many things that happened that had me either rolling my eyes or shaking my head. I didn’t get the feeling that this book happened over a good chunk of time. For me, it felt like everything happened at warp speed. I didn’t believe that Isobel could fall in love with Kenneth so quickly after how horrible Malcolm was to her. Malcolm was horrible to her for years but for a few months, Kenneth shows up and shows her a better side to him and it felt like she didn’t question it long enough for me to believe the change of heart from him.

Also? I thought it was pretty gross that Kenneth didn’t come clean with Isobel the moment that he fell in love with her and they started sleeping together. Especially when he finds out that she was a virgin the first time that they slept together.

Tasha: Actually, I understand why Kenneth didn’t come clean. He even said so himself. If she didn’t know the truth, she couldn’t lie. And he really wasn’t sure how she would’ve reacted to the truth. So I get it. And for the longest, she’s had dreams of this man, her husband having a family together and being so happy. She was hopeful and was trying to make this work with Malcolm but when he wouldn’t budge, she’d leave for London. Now imagine coming back to Scotland and your dream man isn’t being mean to you and making you feel like there’s a chance after all, I’m positive that’s what Isobel felt and went for it.

Rowena: The author should have found a better way around that because it was gross. Kenneth was pretending to be someone else and Isobel thought she was falling in love with her husband and I’m not down with those kinds of secrets and the way that Isobel found out was even worst. She may have been a brat but she didn’t deserve that.

Tasha: If anything, I think the part that really bothered me is when she finally figured out that he was Kenneth, she said his name once and said that was the one and only time she would say it aloud. I thought that sucked. Malcolm was the mean husband, who had no regard for her or her feelings. Why couldn’t she address him as Kenneth in the private, when its just the two of them. I wouldn’t have been able to utter the name Malcolm. You’d hear me address him as “my lord”, “my laird” or whatever title he holds, but not Malcolm.

Rowena: Then I spent some time being annoyed with Isobel’s friend and lady’s maid. The way that she wasn’t as supportive to Isobel as I hoped she’d be, considering she worked for Isobel, it bothered me when she jumped down Isobel’s throat for things I’d expect my best friend to be supportive of.

Tasha: I’m glad she wasn’t on board with going back to London when Isobel was ready to leave. She noticed the change in the Laird and she saw how differently he was treating her. Okay yeah, maybe she only wanted to stay because she found herself a man but to me, Isobel was being a brat. And in those moments, it’s your real friends who will set you straight and tell you to get it together. That’s what I saw happen in that part of the book.

Rowena: Nah, the lady’s maid was first and foremost, Isobel’s maid and they were around the same age so she forgot her place and didn’t stay in her lane. There’s a way to make your point without being a total bitch about it and I thought that the maid (what the heck was her name again?) misstepped. I think I was more annoyed with the way that she came at Isobel because a whole lot of her reasoning for not wanting to go back to London was because she wanted that D. It didn’t come off right.

Tasha: I didn’t think Marie was a bitch towards her, just very firm and direct. But I have to agree with the sleeping with somebody when they don’t even know who you really are. That’s gross! And again, I wish it was a better read than what it turned out to be, just meh.

Rowena: There were just too many little things that bothered me but despite all of that, I still didn’t hate the book and I think that a huge part of the reason I didn’t hate this book was because the week that I read this book, I had read so many other bad books that this was a walk in the park compared to them.

Would I re-read this one? Probably not. Would I recommend this one to other readers? I don’t know. There was promise in this book but the author took the story in a different direction than I would have taken it and because of that, my enjoyment wasn’t as great as it could have been.

Tasha: You made some really good points! And some I agree with, like the relationship between Kenneth and Isobel being rushed. And how he didn’t tell Isobel the truth about who he really was before they did the deed or how the book started off really good and then sadly it just it fizzled out.

Rowena: Like I said, there were so many ways that the author could have written this romance and the way that she wrote it, wasn’t my favorite so yeah, I won’t be re-reading this one. Also, I should probably mention that I was one of the few people in book club that didn’t love this book so if you are curious about this one, you should give it a go.

I give this one 2.5 out of 5, what about you?

Tasha: My rating for this is a 3 out of 5. This will not be a re-read and I probably wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve read similar books that were much better reads.

Final Grades

Tasha: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 2.5 out of 5


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Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Posted July 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

Sarah Dessen has always written such high-quality stories that I’m not at all surprised that I was engrossed in Saylor’s story from beginning to end. Emma Saylor lost her mother when she was ten years old and with the death of her mother, she lost contact with her mother’s side of the family. She doesn’t remember a lot about her mother’s family since her mother became estranged from them when she was little but she does remember stories her mother used to tell her about the North Lake and the life her mother had there before Saylor was born. When her father remarries and Saylor needs a place to crash while he goes on his honeymoon, she finds herself back in her mother’s world with a whole lot of questions. When we first meet Saylor, she’s Emma but everyone in her mother’s family calls her Saylor, just like her mother did when she was alive. This story is about how Emma became Saylor.

When Saylor gets to North Lake, she finds out that she had a giant family that she doesn’t remember and yet there are pictures floating around that prove that she was, very much, a part of this family. That she spent significant time with these people but she doesn’t remember very much. After years of being part of such a small family that consisted of her, her father and her grandmother and now her step-mother, being smack dab in the middle of so much family is overwhelming but I really loved seeing Emma grow into Saylor and just seeing her come into her own while getting to know the other side of her family.

I loved how she worked through learning about her mother. I loved seeing her develop relationships with people that were strangers to her when she first arrived at North Lake. I loved seeing her grow to care for every single person that she came into contact over the course of her stay there. I loved how by the end of the book, she had strong ties to her mother’s family and I really loved how they taught her how family is sometimes messy but family is family through thick and through thin.

Sarah Dessen never fails to write stories that hit me right in the gut. She writes these emotional journeys for her characters and I’m always right there with them. I enjoyed the love interest in this one a lot more than I did in the last book that I read by her and I’m already looking forward to her next release. Saylor and Roo were an adorable couple and I loved seeing them grow closer and closer each day that Saylor stayed in North Lake. There were times when I got really frustrated with Saylor’s Dad but even that is handled well and I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a sweet and emotional contemporary YA with charming characters and a main character that you’ll be cheering on from beginning to end. This book is good, you should read it.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5


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Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Posted July 5, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha RaiReviewer: Rowena
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

- Nude pics are by invitation only

- If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

- Protect your heart

Only there aren't any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night... and disappears.

Rhi thought she'd buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won't fumble their second chance, but she's wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

The Right Swipe is the first book in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series but if you’ve read her Forbidden Hearts series then you’ll remember our heroine, Rhiannon, as she is the sister of the hero in Hurts to Love You.

Rhiannon Hunter is raking in the big bucks as founder and CEO of the dating app, Crush. She works really hard to stay on top and though she’s not all that interested in a relationship, she’s not above using her app to find hookups wherever she might be. When she hooks up with Samson Lima, she knows that it’s a night she’ll never forget. They have chemistry in spades and their night together was explosive so when he wants to see her again, she agrees even though she doesn’t usually go back for seconds. But then Samson ghosts her and her pride gets kicked in the teeth. She’s not expecting to see Samson ever again (and not willing to go there again with him anyway) but when she runs into him at a conference and finds out that he’s working for the company she’s hoping to purchase, her life gets all kinds of complicated.

Samson Lima can’t believe his luck when he comes across the woman that he spent a memorable night with. He didn’t mean to disappear on her and when he tried to fix things, she had already moved on and trying to find her proved to be impossible. Seeing Rhiannon again is a stroke of luck that Samson is not going to mess up again. After retiring from football in a most abrupt manner, Samson spent most of his time caring for his sick uncle and now he’s back at work, helping his Aunt with her dating company. Helping his Aunt by being the face of her company has brought Rhiannon back into his life and he’s happy about that but trying to get her to give him another chance is proving to be a tad bit difficult.

This book was a little slow to pick up for me. I wanted to like it from the jump but I found it hard to connect with both Rhiannon and Samson early on. I will say that I loved that they were both diverse characters without race being a plot point of their romance. I absolutely ADORED that Samson was Samoan because I haven’t had a bunch of luck finding romances featuring Polynesian characters. I’d love to see more of my peeps get their happily ever afters told. I’ve tried reading some and couldn’t really get into them so that’s been a bummer for me and I’m always on the lookout for more.

While I understood Rhiannon’s hesitance in giving Samson another shot, there were times when I wanted to hit her with the, “Either you’re in and you have to get over all of the other shit or you’re not and you need to let this guy go” speech because I felt like Samson kept paying for the same mistake over and over again. I also felt like he was paying for shit he had absolutely nothing to do with (mostly the shit with her ex) and though I know that’s not really something Rhiannon could control, I still wasn’t a big fan of it. Then on the flip side, I wanted to smack some sense into Samson too. I felt like he was far too passive where Rhiannon was concerned. I felt like far too often, he let Rhiannon get away with shit because he felt like he had to redeem himself for ghosting her. His character felt like a bit of a pushover and I wasn’t a fan of that.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and I see the promise that’s there for future books. I will definitely be reading more from Alisha Rai because I’m trying to read more diversely and she’s written some pretty solid romances so far but this one wasn’t one of my favorites by her. Still, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try since most of the stuff that I didn’t care for are personal things. Alisha Rai is a promising talent and shouldn’t be missed.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5


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Featured Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfree

Posted June 26, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Featured Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry WinfreeReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

Warning: This review contains spoilers. They’re marked behind a spoiler tag, but read on at your own risk.

Annie is an aspiring screenwriter who is obsessed with RomComs. She’s waiting for her Tom Hanks – the embodiment of all her girlhood fantasies. When she’s offered the job as assistant to the director on the set of a movie being filmed in her hometown – a RomCom no less – she wonders if this will finally be her chance to meet the man of her dreams.

Except, it’s Drew Danforth who she sees most often. He’s the lead of the movie and a total jerk. She doesn’t like him..yet she can’t stop thinking about him. Too bad for him she’s waiting for her perfect man..and he’s no Tom Hanks.

Holly: When I read the blurb for this book, I thought it sounded like the perfect, lighthearted summer read. While it was definitely lighthearted, the heroine drove me crazy. She jumped to conclusions and, in general, acted like a jerk for the entire book. I really loved her uncle and her best friend, but she rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning. I have no idea what the hero saw in her or why he kept pursuing her.

Casee: I wasn’t excited to read this book at all. I’m not a huge fan of rom coms in general, so the blurb didn’t interest me. Then I picked it up. I was actually interested for the first chapter or so. Then I realized how horrible the heroine was. She was stuck in the past and waiting for a man that only exists in the movies. She’s an intelligent woman, but so freaking stupid.

Rowena: Yeah, I wanted to read this book because it sounded cute and lighthearted and I’m pretty obsessed with RomComs myself. Too bad I wanted to burn shit down while reading this book. Actually, mostly I just wanted to pull Annie’s hair because holy shit, I thought she was so freaking dumb. I hated the way that she treated Drew throughout the entire book. From beginning to end, she was a bitch to him and like Holly, I had no freaking clue what the hell Drew saw in her.

The thing that drove me up the wall was the thing that drew me to the story in the first place. Annie’s obsession with RomComs. But the lengths that she went with her RomCom obsession was just flat out dumb. When she said, “Chloe! He.Has.A.Houseboat.” I wanted to smack the shit out of her. I stuck with the book because I thought for sure, Annie would grow up and she would learn her lesson and she’d stop being so freaking dumb but nope. In the end, I still didn’t like her and was it just me or did Annie never apologize for the texting fiasco? In a meaningful way?

Holly: Her obsession with RomComs was definitely unhealthy. The way she held up every man to this ridiculous standard set by fictional characters was out of control. If she’d shown some growth, apologized like an adult, realized what she did was wrong..anything..I might have been able to forgive her. But from page 1 to the very last, she was the same.

View Spoiler »


Casee: View Spoiler »

Rowena: View Spoiler »

Throughout the book, I couldn’t connect with her as a character because I did not like the way she treated Drew. She treated him like he wasn’t a man but some other world being that wasn’t human. He didn’t have the same kinds of feelings because he was rich and he was a celebrity so he couldn’t possibly be hurt by the shitty way she was around him. That bothered me because it didn’t make me believe in what they were building between them. Even when she got to know him and should have known better, she treated him like he couldn’t have emotions because he had millions of dollars to comfort him. A lot of shit rubbed me the wrong way and it ruined what I hoped would have been a fun read.

Holly: Oh, and this:

It’s McDonald’s. Drew Danforth, star of screens both large and small, takes me to the home of the McNugget. “This is a joke, right?” I ask as I stare up at the golden arches, but he’s out of the car before he even hears me. Of course, when Drew has a chance to go somewhere good—to take me, someone who rarely goes to fancy restaurants, to a nice place—he decides it would be oh-so-funny to visit a fast-food joint.

The sheer entitlement of this statement kills me. The director of the film suggests they go out together because Drew needs to get out. He basically orders her to go. This is their first time spending time together outside of the set, and she’s FORCED into it by her boss. Yet she gets pissed because “He has millions so he should have taken me somewhere better”. HE DIDN’T INVITE YOU ON A DATE! HIS DIRECTOR MADE HIM GO. Jesus.

Rowena: This is me, reading through both of your thoughts.

Casee: Burn shit down indeed.

Holly: Something else that really bothered me was the lack of diversity in this book. The characters have a full-on conversation about the lack of diversity in RomComs and how the director of the movie wanted to change that, but the only POC in the entire book is talked about once or twice? She’s the co-star of the movie, yet she had zero page time and neither did anyone else of color?!? It made no sense.

Rowena: I completely agree with Holly about the lack of diversity in this one. It’s brought up as part of the reason they were filming a diverse RomCom but everyone in this book, that had actual page time, were lily-white as can be. Like, why bother at all?

Casee: Another thing I didn’t care for was that Annie turned over her screenplay before telling Chloe that it was based on her life. That was pretty fucked. Annie was just a crappy person all the way around.

Rowena: Yeah, I thought Annie turning over her screenplay about Nick and Chloe BEFORE telling her best friend about it was pretty creepy and by that point, I wasn’t surprised that Annie would do something like that to a loved one. I didn’t like her in the beginning and even in the end, I didn’t like her so that about sums up this book for me. There were parts of the book that I liked (mostly Chloe and the Uncle) but for the most part, I didn’t like this one.

Casee: My favorite character was Chloe. I just adored her. She tried to get Annie to see reason throughout the whole book, while she herself was so adorably clueless. But she was real, she could see that Annie was living in la-la-land. Too bad Annie couldn’t see it herself. Then, when she did find her dream man, the one that checked off all her romcom boxes, there were no sparks. WTAF.

Holly: I really liked Chloe. She was so down-to-earth. I definitely wanted more from her. I also really liked Annie’s uncle. He was hilarious.

Casee: This book just wasn’t for me. I’m curious about Chloe and Nick’s book, but not enough to read it. I can certainly imagine Chloe’s character being ruined or completely changed from this book. I really don’t want to see that happen.

Rowena: I’m curious about Nick and Chloe’s book too but I don’t know that I’d actually read it. I’d be scared that the Chloe I loved from this book would turn into an Annie and I don’t know that it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Holly: I’m too scared to read Chloe’s book. I don’t even understand why she was friends with Annie. Every good friendship is filled with give and take. Sometimes you give, sometimes you take. It seemed to me all Annie did was take. Chloe could do better.

Casee: I would give this book a 2 out of 5.

Rowena: I would give this book a 2 out of 5.

Holly: I’m giving this 1.5 out of 5. I liked Drew, Chloe and Annie’s Uncle, but the fact that the book revolved around Annie killed it for me.

Final Grades

Casee: 2 out of 5
Holly: 1.5 out of 5
Rowena: 2 out of 5


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Joint Rant: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Posted June 24, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 14 Comments

Joint Rant: The Friend Zone by Abby JimenezReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Fall in love with this hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy that USA Today bestselling author LJ Shen calls "an absolute treat." SheReads' "Most Anticipated Romance Books of 2019

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

"Harnessing sass, heartfelt struggle, and unapologetic sexuality, Jimenez's debut is as hysterical as it is tear-jerking.... Jimenez manages to fulfill all expectations for a romantic comedy while refusing to sacrifice nuance. Biting wit and laugh-out-loud moments take priority, but the novel remains subtle in its sentimentality and sneaks up on the reader with unanticipated depth." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Warning: This review if FULL OF RANTING AND SPOILERS. Nothing is hidden behind a spoiler tag and there is cursing. Read on at your own risk.

Kristen’s best friend, Sloan, is marrying the man of her dreams, Brandon. Brandon’s best friend and best man, Josh, is new in town and Kristen and Josh are forced together a lot while they help with wedding preparations, and Josh acts as a stand in carpenter for Kristen’s business after hers quits unexpectedly. They hit it off pretty early on and they have chemistry in spades, but Kristen has a boyfriend…plus, she’s hiding a pretty big secret from Josh. He’s made it clear on several occasions that he wants a ton of kids, but she’s infertile. She suffers from fibroids in her uterus that are making her absolutely miserable. In fact, she’s having a partial hysterectomy in a matter of weeks.

Holly: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez is one of my most anticipated books of 2019. It first came on my radar earlier this year when the cover caught my attention. The blurb intrigued me and, since I’m trying to branch out in my reading this year, I added it to my TBB pile. Then early reviews popped up and I got really excited. This book sounded like everything I needed in my life.

Rowena: This book was on my radar too because it sounded like a good time and I’m all about the friends to lover trope. I liked the cover too so I thought, yeah, this book looks like it’ll be a fun read so I agreed to buddy review this with Holly once the book came out.

Holly: Sadly, it was not. In fact, it made me so angry I ended up with an eye twitch.

Rowena: Like Holly, this book pissed me off the more that I read. Like, this book made me ragey. I’m still feeling rage when I think about this book. sigh

Holly: There’s a lot for me to unpack with this book. First, I absolutely adored Josh. He was so down-to-earth and secure in himself I couldn’t help but fall for him. His loyalty to his friends, his desire to make Kristen happy, his overall personality – I loved it all.

I loved Kristen at first, too. She’s brash, unapologetic about it and, in general, so comfortable with herself you know she’ll give it to you straight every time. Until she doesn’t, that is. Early in the book she tells Josh:

“There’s something you should know about me, Josh. I say what I think. I don’t have a coy bone in my body. Yes, you’re sexy. Enjoy the compliment because you won’t always like what I say to you, and I won’t care one way or the other if you do or don’t.”

Based on this, and many other things she says and does, I thought Kristen was a straight shooter. So why, then, did she spend the entirety of the book playing games with Josh? She strung him along, flirted, kissed him, slept with him, then ghosted him for weeks…only to reel him back in. She swore it was for his own good, but what she did was toy with him constantly. She never opened up to him about her problems or had a true, adult conversation with him about where she was at. She just kept telling him “This is just sex! Don’t get attached.” Even after it was clear he was attached, she’d weaken, sleep with him, then shut down.

Had she not been described as a drama-free unicorn for the majority of the book, maybe I would have felt differently about her actions throughout. But her hot and cold act, her immaturity when it came to having real conversations about shit, and the way she emotionally cheated on her boyfriend didn’t scream “Drama Free” to me. I loved her wit and sarcasm; how loyal she was to her best friend and how quick she was to take care of the people in her life. But she contradicted all of that by acting like a 12-year-old when it came to Josh.

Rowena: Yessssss, to all of that. She annoyed the shit out of me but in the early days of the book, I really enjoyed her. I loved her attitude and the way that she told Josh the truth when they were truly just friends. When Josh was working in her garage, building the little doggy stuff, their friendship was pretty awesome. I loved their banter, I loved that she was a shitty cook and Josh hated her cooking but ate everything she put in front of him because what else could he do? Sure, I thought Kristen was kind of weird for trying to look unsexy so that she wasn’t tempted by Josh even though emotionally, she was already hella tempted but it wasn’t until they started becoming more than friends that she really started to piss me off.

Holly: I want to address her looking unsexy so she wouldn’t be tempted by Josh for a minute. She was in a fully committed relationship with a man for over two years. In a matter of weeks he was coming home and they were going to live together. He knew about her infertility issues and he was okay with it because he didn’t want kids. He was deployed with the military, so they weren’t able to talk every single day, but they did talk rather frequently. Kristen claims she’s fully in, that she’s not a cheater. But FROM THE BEGINNING, she had to “remove temptation”? I did not get that at all. Being around someone attractive should not tempt you to cheat if you’re committed to someone. That seriously pissed me off.

Rowena: Same. She may not have gotten physical with Josh but she was emotionally cheating on Tyler the entire time she was there with Josh, especially when she stopped taking Tyler’s calls at the end to spend as much time as possible with Josh before Tyler came home. I thought that was super stupid.

One of the fastest ways for me to fall out of love with a character, or even, a story, is when one character decides for another character that they know best and keeps secrets for their own good. Kristen does this to Josh and every single time that she missed an opportunity to come clean about everything with Josh, my blood pressure would rise. It took way too long for Kristen to come clean and with every page that she didn’t, every time that she played with Josh’s emotions, I cared for her less and less. Even in the end when all is revealed and the happy ending comes along, I still didn’t fully forgive Kristen for all that she put Josh through. I didn’t understand it and I hated that Kristen thought she could make decisions for Josh like it was her place. Ugh.

Holly: You’re absolutely right, she did make decisions for Josh. She decided what she thought was best for him and just went on her merry way. I understand that she didn’t want to be treated differently because of her health issues. I get that she didn’t want to take the chance that Josh would reject her. I also understand she was dealing with a lot of stuff from her childhood, because she was never good enough for her mother. But it wasn’t enough to make what she did okay. She should have been upfront with Josh and let him make decisions for himself.

Rowena: She had legit reasons for keeping her situation under wraps…at first but all of that shit went right out the window when she started playing those ridiculous games with Josh and her reason of, “It’s for his own good” made me want to smack some damn sense into her. She just kept right on making stupid decision after stupid decision and I hated that Josh kind of just goes with it all. Her ex shows up in town and she leaves for hours with him, leaving Josh at her house and then comes back and when Josh asks about it, she’s all, “You really want to talk about my boyfriend?” Not her ex-boyfriend but her boyfriend like she didn’t spend the night in bed banging the shit out of Josh before the ex shows up. Like Josh really is just a fuck buddy.

Holly: Stringing two guys along, lying, treating the person she loved most in the world like shit and making him feel unloved….I just couldn’t with her.

Rowena: And then after the ex, who she knows she’s not in love with anymore proposes to her, the bitch had the audacity to say, “Maybe”. The bitch has already come to terms with the fact that she is madly in love with Josh but she tells the ex, “Maybe” and the hot and cold shit just kept coming up and even in the end, I still wanted to punch this bitch in the mouth. Goodness, I just…AHHH.

Holly: OMG girl, when she told Josh that she said “maybe” to Tyler’s proposal, I thought my head was going to explode. YOU DID WHAT?!? She full on admitted she was in love with Josh. Josh straight up admitted he had feelings for her. She was ACTIVELY FUCKING JOSH ON A REGULAR BASIS. But Tyler comes home and proposes and she says “maybe”?!?!?. OMFG the rage.

To make matters worse, halfway through the book Brandon, Josh’s best friend, was in a terrible motorcycle accident and eventually dies after months of being in the hospital. I have no idea why that was even included. It served no purpose other than to add additional conflict. It didn’t bring the MCs closer together, it didn’t do anything but add additional trauma to an already traumatic story.

Rowena: Yes. Just…yes about Brandon. I completely agree with everything you said regarding that whole matter because I felt it too. I finished this book in the early hours of the morning and I couldn’t go to sleep because of it. I was super ragey over this whole thing because IT WASN’T NECESSARY! I’m getting ragey about it again so let me step away and calm my ass down.

Holly: And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is this…

The story is ultimately about Kristen learning to love herself and to accept she’s worthy of love even though she can’t have children. For all my frustration and anger over her actions with Josh, it really touched me. My heart broke for her, because it came down to her health vs her dreams. When she finally accepts that she is worthy of love, and can be with Josh, I truly felt that inside my heart. I was all in with her.

But then there’s a miracle fucking pregnancy at the end. So, all the work the author did convincing me that Kristen was okay as she was, that she didn’t need to give Josh kids to make him love her? Went right out the fucking window. I just can’t. I was so angry when I finished the book I was shaking. Because that’s so wrong. What was the point of the book, then? And what message is the author sending out to other infertile women? If they just wait long enough, they too will get pregnant? So.Much.No.

Rowena: I was too mad at the stupid games that Kristen played with Josh’s heart for me to fully forgive her when everything was said and done. Too many things made me so angry and when I came to the end, I was still so rip-roaring mad that I couldn’t even talk about it. I sat there and I stewed over everything and I’m still not really able to talk about how much I hated this book. Everything was too little, too late and on top of the whole Brandon thing, and then the miracle pregnancy, I just…nope. This book gets a giant nope from me.

Grade: 1 out of 5.

Holly: It gets a giant nope from me, too. I really loved Josh, Brandon and Sloan, but Kristen killed all my good feels for them. All my happy feelings are as dead as Brandon.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Final Grades

Holly: 1 out of 5
Rowena: 1 out of 5


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