Title: Just Friends (review copy)
Author: Holly McCulloch
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, Friends to Lovers
Blurb from Goodreads
It’s easy to put someone in the friend zone. But what happens if you change your mind?
Bea isn’t happy. Desperate for a change, she looks to her friends for inspiration. Every single one of them is paired off, perhaps that’s what she needs too.
So, she starts dating again. But everywhere she goes – amid the hilarious and scarring dates – there’s Peter. Good old, oddball Peter, her closest friend from university. He’s always been firmly in the friend zone but something’s happened lately – he seems taller, more handsome and suddenly making him smile is Bea’s favourite thing.
But how can Bea possibly risk their friendship? And how do you even go about taking someone out of the friend zone? What if Bea and Peter were only ever meant to be just friends…
Oh this book gave me all the happy feels!
The premise is of friends to lovers which isn’t something I normally like…I tend to be more of a fan of enemies to lovers but after this book…
GIVE ME ALL THE FRIENDS TO LOVERS NOVELS PLEASE!
The plot follows a year in the life of Bea who goes on the most wonderful character journey.
Bea is thirty something and single; she’s finding it lonely to see her friends all partnered up and in particular feels sad to see the changes that happen when your bestie gets married. She’s got a steady job as an assistant but doesn’t particularly love it; it just kinda pays the bills. In her free time she tries to create greeting cards in the hopes of setting up a small business but she just lacks self belief to really drive this business forward.
At the beginning of the novel we meet Bea at her best friend’s wedding where she gets a little bit on the tipsy side and proclaims that this year she will date more… and with her best girlfriends’ *support* (more like loving interference!) she tries to put herself out there a little more.
But all the while in the background is Peter. Peter is a long term friend. He’s someone that supports her fully, is one of the people that she feels most comfortable with but he’s firmly in the friend zone…. or is he?
This book is a fantastic slow burn development of a potential relationship. It’s all about Bea uncovering how she truly feels and finally seeing what everyone around her saw for years.
I really loved Bea as a main character. She’s both incredibly witty and self deprecating which makes for a lot of laugh out loud moments. She feels very authentic too in that she has many facets to her personality and as a reader I truly felt all the range of emotions she went through.
And not only is the main character Bea really well written but this book also has a wonderful range of multilayered supporting characters.
Mixed in with Bea’s great friend group are a fantastic depiction of family; her mum’s Christmas food quirks were an absolute hoot to read about!
Her relationship with bestie Mia felt very true to life in that their friendship had its highs and lows but at its core was a mutual feeling of supporting each other.
And the character of Peter was just so great! He was described in a delightfully quirky fashion that not only made him incredibly likeable but gave his characterisation depth.
All these things serve to set the scene for a wonderfully written novel that made me both laugh out loud and get very happily teary-eyed at the end! Definitely recommend this to fans of witty fiction that want to escape the busyness of everyday life with a comforting and life affirming read.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*