Fake relationship romance done the Crystal Kaswell way – with a tortured tattoo artist, curvy goth girl, a ton of steam, and a completely distinct writing style – this sexy book is a play on a beloved trope. It’s definitely not my favorite from Kaswell – her books are always steamy but this was like one non-stop sexual reference, only broken up by our heroine’s insecurities and our hero’s tortured nature. There were things that I really liked, but ultimately it felt repetitive – both within the book and when compared to Kaswell’s past romances.
The story follows Forest, a tattoo artist whose heart was ripped to shreds following a bad breakup. He’s been single for the last two years (and hasn’t kissed anyone for almost that long, despite having had plenty of casual hookups), but is good friends with his ex’s cousin, Skye. Skye resents the fact that her cousin pursued Forest (knowing that she had feelings for him) and then treated him so badly. When she receives an invite to her cousin’s wedding, Skye sees it as an opportunity for both of them to show just how wrong her cousin’s actions were. But putting on a show for others puts the attraction that Skye and Forest feel for each other to the forefront, and it quickly becomes obvious that their friendship will forever be changed.
Kaswell’s writing style is so unique, flowing like a stream of consciousness. You’ll either love it or hate it, but it definitely works for me. I love a good fake relationship romance, so there were a lot of elements that I enjoyed – the depth of their feelings from the start, the tension, etc. My biggest issue is just how sexual this was – I know to expect a lot of steam from Kaswell (usually so much that I skim some of the scenes), but there’s typically a buildup in intimacy that advances the story, and this didn’t have the same feel. I also didn’t love how many commonalities there were between this book and past books from Kaswell – things that once felt original now feel like they’ve been done before. So it’s by no means a bad book, just not my favorite from this author. I received a free copy via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
I’m faking a relationship with my best friend. What could possibly go wrong?
Skye is my best friend. I trust her with my life.
So when she asks me to play her boyfriend?
I say hell no. Love screws everything up. And I’m not about to lose the only person who gets me.
But Skye is determined. She’s bringing a fake boyfriend to her cousin’s wedding, with or without me.
No way am I letting some other guy hold her, touch her, kiss her.
It has to be me.
It’s strange, smiling like I’m madly in love.
But it’s easy, wrapping my arms around her curvy body.
It’s easy, dragging my lips over her soft neck.
And when she kisses me?
It’s easy, realizing she’s the only thing I need.
I have five weeks of faking it. Five weeks to convince my best friend our fake love is real.
The Best Friend Bargain is a standalone friends to lovers/pretend girlfriend romance featuring a brooding tattoo artist hero and the curvy heroine who brings him to his knees.