Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan

The Friend Zone (2015) (self-published)
Kristen Callihan
Grade: A-
Genre: New Adult
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Game On: (1) The Hook Up, (2) The Friend Zone
Romance RBC 2015: A new adult book

The daughter of a sports agent, Ivy Mackenzie knows better than to get involved with a football star, especially a guy like Gray Grayson who can’t turn around without bumping into another one of his sexual conquests. But what starts out as just harmless banter and texting while Ivy spends a year abroad with her mother quickly becomes much more when Ivy returns home. Not only have Ivy and Gray become the best of friends and each other’s better half through their endless texting, but the irresistible sexual spark that’s constantly been simmering in the background flares to life when they meet in the flesh. It all makes for an irresistible read: while Ivy is insistent that she won’t follow the cliché and just become another notch on Gray’s bedpost, Gray is similarly determined to seduce the pants off of Ivy – Game On.

I loved this. This was one of Smexy Books’ SSS (Sex Scene Sunday) excerpts and even though it wasn’t nearly as explicit as other excerpts that have appeared on the weekly feature, there was just something about the extract that was chosen and the way that the book was described that made me want to find out more – see it here and their full review here. Despite my promises to myself that I won’t buy any more books, I’m so glad that I followed my hunch on this one. Easily the funniest book I’ve read all year – that is, so far.

Ivy is a great heroine – really, the best kind of New Adult heroine you can get, because she doesn’t need saving from a damn thing. Sure, she’s only ever been in one relationship (that obviously hasn’t inspired her to date more) but it wasn’t life-shatteringly devastating and she hasn’t experienced any major childhood trauma that’s left her scarred for life. Her father might have been a compulsive cheater during his football-playing days (hence her aversion to dating football players) but otherwise she’s had a generally healthy upbringing, though her parents admittedly live on different continents. Otherwise, she’s a well-rounded heroine who’s still looking for her calling in life when she strikes up her friendship with Gray. She’s been working for her mum in London for a year, learning how to run a bakery. Ivy loves baking, but it isn’t her passion. It’s wonderfully refreshing to read about a heroine who’s just embarking on her life; I’m at the start of my professional career myself and it is in this aspect of her life that I find myself most identifying with Ivy. Romance is undoubtedly my favourite genre but I’ve never been able to identify with their heroines, though this has never stopped me reading more. It would take a lot more encouragement to get me reading more new adult, but Kristen Callihan has definitely put me on the right path.

Ivy and Gray are still very much at the beginning of their lives but both have been forced to grow up fast in different ways – The Friend Zone only teaches them more life lessons. While Gray can’t complain about the doors that his talents on the field have opened for him, he’s grown out of his days of sleeping around and knows now that Ivy is the only girl for him. Learning from the (bad) example that her parents set, the last thing Ivy expects is to fall for a football player. She denies her feelings for Gray for a long time – it only makes the ending that much sweeter.

This was really funny. There were echoes of Ruthie Knox in Kristen Callihan’s writing stye and regular readers of this blog (are there actually any of you?!) will recall that Ruthie Knox was my favourite new author of 2014 – I literally devoured everything she wrote, whether it be contemporary romance or new adult. After I read their text-exchanges, I thought that nothing could top their banter once they met in real life – but Kristen Callihan happily proved me wrong, despite some awful jokes. This is one of the said text-exchanges – brilliant, or what?:

GrayG: So as friends, can I still say inappropriate, sex-related things?
Ivy Mac: Sure. Think of me as just another guy. With a vagina.
GrayG: A. Shudder. B. Yeah, no. C. I had this dream that you were sucking my 8==> But when I looked down, I discovered it was actually a goat … you know. Then I really woke up because I yelled so hard, I fell out of bed. And now I live in mortal terror of goats.
Ivy Mac: LMFAO! Gray got it from a goat!
GrayG: >:-[
Ivy Mac: Goat-on-Gray action! Heeeee! *Falls down dead*
GrayG: You suck, you know that?
Ivy Mac: No, the goat does! *Dies again* My sides. My sides!

I’ve already downloaded Kristen Callihan’s other contemporary novel: The Hook Up, which is the first book in this series and I’m really excited to see what else she has to come. She’s already the author of a darker, mystery (historical?) series called Darkest London which looks promising – when I have time, which is a complete laugh. I have a feeling that I’ll be reading much more of Kristen Callihan to come.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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