I have been on a major romance kick lately but most of the romances I have been reading are of the historical variety. There is something so romantic about historical romances in a way that modern contemporary romances just don’t have. I think it’s the constraints of society and class in the historical romances that make them compelling but at the same time I am a modern woman and as a modern woman, I want to also read about modern women like me, not just the lone countess trapped in a marriage of convenience.
Enter this book. I decided it was time to take a bit of a break from the usual historical romances in favor of a more modern romance. Friends to lovers is such a great troupe (though I personally like enemies to lovers better) and I couldn’t wait to explore this book and the two friends who ultimately fall in love. The only thing I was worried about was sometimes the friends to lovers troupe doesn’t carry the same emotional impact for me as something a little more fraught with conflict like the enemies to lovers troupe—which is why I don’t read much of friends to lovers.
But this one sounded charming and I was eager to read something that didn’t involve a corset and buff colored breeches! Not to mention Helena Hunting has written a number of romances that sizzle and I couldn’t wait to read this one an explore the friends to lovers troupe in the modern world!
Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.
But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.
Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built (summary from Goodreads)
This one landed right in the middle for me. I liked it but I didn’t love it. It was problematic for me for one reason—-how did these two live together for so long and not really ‘discover’ their feelings until now? That was a hard one for me to swallow. I think it would have been better for me if they didn’t live together. Friends yes but roommates too, it was hard for me to get past that. But at the same time this is where all the chemistry came from between the two characters—this forced proximity really worked well between Avery and Declan but it was a gamble that I don’t know worked for me. I think the same chemistry could have been achieved in other ways.
I did enjoy the slow burn of the romance and the deeper undercurrent of each character’s individual back stories. both Declan and Avery have emotional baggage that impacts their relationship abilities and I thought that was what shined in this book. There was some romantic tension between them and chemistry of course, but the backstories made this one less of a fluffy read than I was expecting. Romance novels are usually light and easy to read and while this one has some of that, the backstories of the characters hints at something more complex and challenging for them to work through. I think readers will appreciate that aspect of the book.
I had a conversation with a friend recently about the Ladder Theory. For women I think it’s really easy to decide quickly where to put a guy in the ‘ladder’. This is why I think the friends to lovers troupe doesn’t always work for me. I think a woman always knows where a male friend lands on her radar, now there are varying degrees of self denial that might factor in but overall I think women know when a friend is more than a friend. While I have my own theories on the friends to lovers troupe, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love reading them on occasion. This one was a good solid romance, while I had some issues with it, I did like it and found it enjoyable. I think Hunting did a good job creating chemistry and tension between Declan and Avery even if at times I struggled with the logistics of their romance.
Book Info and Rating
Format320 pages, Paperback
Expected publication September 21, 2021 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Free review copy provided by publisher, St Martin’s Griffin, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: contempo romance