Friends First novel #3
by Christine Warner
One kiss can change your life...
Allison Hall is fed up with being a social outcast. Even at the tech company where she works for her brother and his best friend, Jared, she's the invisible nerdy girl. What she needs is confidence—and that requires a makeover and dating tips. And she knows just the man to help…
Jared Esterly is shocked when Allison asks for his assistance and turns her down, knowing that her brother—his business partner and best friend, Nick—would kill him if he dated her, even if it is just for practice. But when Al’s attempt to make changes on her own fails spectacularly, Jared reluctantly steps in. Things heat up quickly, and soon lessons move from the salon to the bedroom.
When overprotective big-brother Nick discovers Jared is dating Allison, their friendship and business partnership sour. Allison, consumed by guilt, must make a choice: stay with Jared, even though that means ruining his friendship with Nick and possibly his career, or leave the one man who sets her on fire.
I truly am a glutton for punishment. There are going to be spoilers all over this review - you have been warned.
If any of you listen to the Smart Bitches podcast, they talk about "catnip" a lot. They do love cats, but that's not what they're talking about. Catnip is basically the tropes and cliches one likes in particularly romance novels. The catnip is the reason why we will read a story that is so insane just because it contains a theme we really like. This story - by description alone - had one of my favorite tropes: the friends to lovers story. Truly the only one that tops that one is the enemies to lovers story. I love it when they can't stand each other and end up falling for the other. Ugh. But I digress.
Allison is this geeky, intelligent woman who wants to make herself over to gain some confidence and momentum in her life. Jared is the family friend (namely, to Allison's older brother, Nick) who reluctantly decides to help her after Allison tries to make the transformation on her own. I thought Jared was really sweet, telling Allison from the beginning of the story that she already had the confidence and looks and all that. However, I do like a good makeover. Instead of writing her as a completely different person, the author really wrote Allison as herself - just with a little mascara on and wearing a nice dress. She remained her geeky self who loves penguins. I really enjoyed that.
I felt that the romance that ultimately blossoms between Jared and Allison was really sweet - but moved along a little too fast for my taste. I LOVED the jealousy coming from both of them when they see each other with other people. And I realized that I totally take for granted the fact that romance authors rotate POV between the hero and heroine. Not all books do that!! I forget that fact. I love hearing from Allison's mind and Jared's mind - especially cuz of the jealousy haha.
This book had a little something extra - penguins! Allison loves penguins because it was something her mother was interested in too. Allison talks to Jared about penguins and how different they can be, their behaviors, etc. This is something that Jared comes to connect with Allison, so when they are going through their "rough patch" - Jared uses a penguin-esque idea to get Allison back.
Now - what I didn't like. It's really only one thing and if you're a reader of this site, you already know what it is. THE PROPOSAL!!! *insert shriek of frustration here* Why why why do people have to get proposed to at the end of every romance book I read? I know it's traditional, but we are living in 2016 here - people can be happy being together. Period. I don't mind all proposals in books - but lately it seems like it's just a part of the formula that I do not like.
So - lovely story, love the penguins and Allison and Jared - but HATED the end.