Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis (Wildstone #4)

It's been years since I've read a Jill Shalvis book. Anyone out there remember Harlequin Duets? They were paperback books that contained two romantic comedies and I loved them. I'm almost certain that's where I discovered Jill Shalvis's writing.

In Almost Just Friends, Piper raised her siblings, works in EMS, and is fixing up the Victorian lake house and nearby cabins they own in preparation for selling. Her plan is to split the proceeds, go back to school to become a physician's assistant, and help her sister pay for college and her brother get a nice place of his own.

Then, all of a sudden, things change. During a massive storm, Piper goes to check on her diabetic neighbor and meets his handsome son, Camden. Piper is a little stunned to find herself attracted to Cam. Then, both her brother and sister, Gavin and Winnie, return home to stay. But, everyone has a secret and nobody wants to let Piper know what's going on. So, while her younger siblings are trying to work out what's next for them and the handsome neighbor is keeping at least one of their secrets, Piper begins to realize that maybe she has some work to do on communicating with her family, especially when it turns out they don't want to sell out the property at all.

I had some issues with Almost Just Friends, the main one being Camden's job. I couldn't make heads or tails of his combination of jobs. He's in the Coast Guard but he also gets called away on active duty for something-or-other. Or, maybe he gets called out on Coast Guard missions that are dangerous? It just confused me. I would have been happier if Camden had just had a normal job in the Coast Guard instead of the two conflicting things. I kept puzzling over how on earth the things he did worked together and whether they even made sense. At some point, I decided to try not to think too hard about what Camden even did for a living.

What I liked best about the story was the relationship between Piper and Camden, which quickly became one of comfort friends with benefits. They genuinely felt comfortable together and I felt like their relationship worked. I also liked the way the siblings fought. Sometimes, it was a little uncomfortably familiar, but I thought their arguments felt pretty realistic, if ridiculous.

Recommended but not a favorite - I really enjoyed Almost Just Friends, don't get me wrong, but there were little niggling things about it that bothered me – Camden's job, the timing of Winnie's issues, the pointless secrets being kept. And, at some point, it felt like the author tried to turn Piper's trauma into something similar for Camden. In other words, I felt like the story was uneven. But, I liked the romance and wanted the couple to get together. So, while Almost Just Friends is not my favorite book by Jill Shalvis, I still enjoyed it enough that I'd read more by her.

I received my copy of Almost Just Friends from HarperCollins for review. Thank you! Almost Just Friends is the 4th book in the Wildstone series but I have not read any of the other books and it stood alone just fine. So, if you're interested in the storyline, don't worry about the fact that it's a series book.

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  1. I enjoyed this one as well but I have to agree with you on the secrets that didn't make sense at times. I just wanted them to get everything out there in the open more. I really did enjoy this book though and I think that at some point I will go back and read the earlier books in this series.

    1. Yes, exactly! Why hold back? Eventually, the truth was going to come out and they weren't the kind of secrets I could imagine people normally bothering to keep. But, I love Jill Shalvis's writing. I don't know if I'll go back and read the rest of the series but I won't give up on her.

  2. I read Jill Shalvis a lot but the last time I read one I was...underwhelmed!

    1. I guess underwhelmed is a good way to describe how I felt about this one. I liked the romance, just not what happens around that romance. There wasn't much excitement; it felt a little contrived. Hopefully, she'll be back to form with the next one.


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