FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley).
Series: Friends First #1
Publisher: Loveswept on April 8, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
Worn out from the long drive back home, Jayne Morgan can only smirk at the irony: Of course the first person she sees from her old life is Nick Scott. Once best friends, they lost touch when Jayne left town at eighteen, but nothing could keep them apart forever. Jayne has returned to take over her grandmother’s bookstore, determined to put all her bittersweet memories and secret disappointments strictly in the past—until, that is, Nick insists she bunk at his place.
Nick never did care what people thought about having a girl for a best friend—or the “scandal” she caused by showing up to his wife’s funeral four years earlier—so he’s got no problem with the gossips now. Jayne was always the one person he could count on in his life. Now Nick is starting to realize that he never wants her to leave again . . . and that being “just friends” isn’t going to be enough anymore.
When Jayne’s grandmother passes away, leaving her a small inheritance and an old book store, Jane returns to the town she thought she’d left behind for good. It may have been where she grew up, but it was never really home. And now that she’s back, she’s face to face with the one person she ever loved. The boy, now a man, who stole her heart and walked down the aisle with someone else.
I’m really surprised by just how much I love this story! I mean, I figured I would like it, but I can’t even count how many books I’ve read that have lifelong best friends falling in love. So I thought I was getting the usual, albeit enjoyable story. Oh, but it was so much more.
Jayne’s childhood certainly wasn’t easy, and adulthood hasn’t been a bucket of fun either, but despite everything she’s been through, she’s come out okay. Orphaned when she was just a baby, she was raised by a grandmother who made sure Jayne knew just how much of a burden she was. There were no birthday parties or magical Christmases. There was no affection or familial support. There was just getting by with the help of her best friend Nick until she graduated and her grandmother kicked her out.
Now that her grandmother has passed, though, she’s back in town, back spending too much time with Nick, and back to having the whole town –including his disapproving mother — speculating about their relationship. Their friendship is more than just the usual I secretly love my best friend fare, though. While most stories would have her pining away and constantly reminding herself that they’re just friends, Jayne’s not under any illusions. She knows they’ll never be anything but friends, and while she certainly wouldn’t mind more, she doesn’t really question what she sees as her reality.
And for his part, Nick breaks the mold as well. He hasn’t harbored some secret crush or attraction, and he truly loves Jayne as his best friend. And after the life she’s had, he does all he can to protect her and keep her happy. It’s not like she’s ever had anyone else on her side, and while she’s rather reluctant when it comes to accepting help or even showing affection, he makes it his job to do just that for her.
Of course, they eventually get past all that nonsense and realize their feelings for each other, but the path they take to get there is rather unconventional. For one, he has a girlfriend, and he is certainly not a cheater. And he even goes so far as to set her up on a blind date and later stand aside — well, maybe he just tries to — when she accepts a date with one of his best friends. Through it all, their genuine friendship keeps things sweet and funny and down to earth instead of the typical made-for-fiction fantasy. Plain Jayne is a great read, with all the fun of a New Adult novel wrapped around adult lives, just enough every day banter to fit reality, and just enough happily ever after to make it that much better.