ALMOST JUST FRIENDS (The Wildstone Series Book 5) by Jill Shalvis
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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.
This is a story about two people struggling with family issues and painful things in their pasts. I fell for Cam quickly. Despite carrying a load of guilt, he was open to taking a chance. Not only in romance, but with his father and those around them. I enjoyed him and his banter. I related to Piper in the beginning, but her self-preserving behavior frustrated me after a while. Thankfully she was a likeable person, so my groans were kept to a minimum.
I liked the family members, especially Cam’s dad, Emmitt. He was a hoot! Piper’s brother, Gavin had his own romance in the story that made me smile. Due to the nature of the families, I didn’t feel the camaraderie that I love in Shalvis’ books, but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment in watching them grow closer. It’s a story of letting go of the past to embrace the future, accepting others, and being open to love. It is a lovely romance.
*Review copy provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
The last time a woman had ordered Cam to strip had been a very different scene altogether, and it’d been a while. Generally speaking, he liked to be behind the wheel in most situations, but he’d never had any complaints about a woman driving in his bed. “Interesting bedside manner.”
“Okay,” she said. “How about strip, please.”
He laughed, and he realized that until tonight, it’d been a damn long time for that too. “Well, since you asked so nicely . . .” But still he hesitated.
“Trust me, I’ve seen it all before.”
He pulled off his shirt, wincing when the cotton stuck to the deepest slice across his chest.
Piper blinked, and for the first time all night, appeared short of words.
It was pretty damn cute, especially with the mud on her nose. “Thought you’ve seen it all before.” She bit her lower lip, eyes suddenly hooded, and he couldn’t resist teasing her. “So, how do I stack up?”
That got her, and she rolled her eyes. “Like you don’t know. Sit.”
The couch seemed too . . . personal, so he sat on her coffee table. She dropped to her knees at his side and doctored up first the cut on his left palm from where he’d nicked himself in his dad’s kitchen, and then the two slices on his left biceps, and then the biggest one across his chest, during which time he did his best to ignore the feel of her soft breath on his skin and failed.
When she’d finished, she looked down at his cargoes and saw the blood seeping through from his thigh. Rising to her feet, she stepped back, gesturing for him to lose the pants too.
“Seriously,” he said. “Doesn’t even have to be dinner. An appetizer would work.”
“If you’re real good, I’ll give you a sticker.”
“How about letting me look at your secret secret bucket list instead?”
Her eyes narrowed. “How about we stop talking now?”
“Wait.” He cocked his head. “Does this mean you also have a secret bucket list? And possibly a not-so- secret bucket list?”
She had hands on hips; a fresh, clean gauze in one hand, antibiotic ointment in the other, her expression dialed to Not Feeling Playful.
With a rough laugh, he stood and took the gauze and ointment from her. “I got this one, Doc.” And then he gestured for her to turn around.
She did with a smirk, and then spoke over her shoulder. “Didn’t peg you for the shy type.”
“Oh, I’m not shy.” He shoved his icy, muddy, wet cargoes to his thighs, and yeah, the cat had come within two inches of de-manning him. “Just didn’t want to have to fight you off.”
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I always get verbal consent first. And I bet you didn’t want me to see your tighty-whities.”
He gritted his teeth as he cleaned out the cut. Son of a bitch, that cat had gone deep. “They’re not tight and they’re not white.”
“Commando,” he said, and that shut her up. When he’d finished and pulled his pants back up, he lifted his head and found her facing him. His brows went up. “See anything you like?”
Instead of answering, she blushed. And he grinned because, yeah. She’d definitely seensomething she liked.
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New York Times and USA Today 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 sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.