Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis

January 22, 2020 Book Reviews 3 ★★★★½

Almost Just Friends by Jill ShalvisAlmost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #4
Published by William Morrow on January 21, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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four-half-stars
Also in this series: Lost and Found Sisters, The Good Luck Sister
Also by this author: One Snowy Night, Chasing Chrismas Eve, Holiday Wishes, About That Kiss, Lost and Found Sisters, The Good Luck Sister, Hot Winter Nights, Playing for Keeps

Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblings…well, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herself…and Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

This book may not be suitable for readers under 17 years of age.

Review

Almost Just Friends is Jill Shalvis at her best: funny, heartwarming, sometimes heart-wrenching, and real. And hot. The main characters’ attraction simmers throughout the slow build of their romance, even when it’s expressed only through the occasional kiss or glance in the beginning.

I loved both Cam and Piper. They’re both carrying a fair bit of emotional baggage, but while Piper’s results in her keeping others at a distance and not handling relationships well (her siblings included), Cam begins the book a little further along in his own journey. From the start, he has an instinctual understanding of how to deal with Piper. He’s there for his dad and for Piper’s siblings in a ways that show he is already dealing with his own issues, while Piper is still, for all her attempts to keep control of everything in her life, not facing up to her own issues. She grows a lot during the course of the book; Cam’s support, encouragement, and insight play a large part in that growth, and I was cheering her on the entire way.

The novel is as much about Piper’s relationship with her younger siblings as with Cam. Those relationships are complicated and challenging despite the underlying love all three siblings have for one another. Winnie and Gavin have their own character arcs, growing and maturing throughout the story. Gavin is an important secondary POV character; his second-chance romance with a handsome cop is really moving. I’d love to say more about both of these two, and the relationships between the three siblings, because I think Shalvis got them all just right… but I can’t without spoilers.

I missed reading the previous Wildstone book, The Lemon Sisters, but it didn’t matter. The books in this series are connected mainly by place, so they feel more like standalones. I loved this one at least as much as I did the first one, Lost and Found Sisters. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

Cover note: The cover is a bit deceptive, in that Piper is never (and never would be) alone in a rowboat. Also, she has a cat, not a dog. The cover designer got the journal right, though!


Read for the 2020 POPSugar Reading Challenge: (1) A book published in 2020

four-half-stars

About Jill Shalvis

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER with Friends (Winter 2019-2020)
  • POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020

3 Responses to “Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis”

  1. Sam@wlabb

    I also gave this book 4.5 stars. The romance was great, the growth was amazing, the relationship between the siblings was fabulous – it all came together so well and worked in the best way for me. I had a lovely time reading this book.