Featuring the SWOONIEST hero I’ve read in a long time (complete with sweet alpha vibes, a man bun, and a dad bod), this friends to lovers romance is filled with great moments. I absolutely adored the hero. I loved trying to puzzle out his feelings without his perspective, I loved the road trip aspect, and I loved the focus on mental health and loving yourself before you can let love in to your life. Which, yeah, made for some very frustrating moments as well. I wasn’t particularly fond of the way the commitment-phobic heroine took advantage of our selfless, loving hero’s feelings. I did not want to see that giant, lovable man hurting, which made me dislike the heroine somewhere along the way. That is really the only thing holding me back from calling this otherwise-excellent romance a 5-star read though. There is a LOT to love about it, including tons of chemistry and plenty of swoony moments along the way.
The story follows Lane, a woman who avoids relationships. She’s happy to fool around with people, but delving deeper is something she doesn’t allow herself to consider. So when she meets Matt, a friend of a friend, she’s definitely attracted but knows that crossing any lines is a bad idea. Matt is going to be in her life for years whether she likes it or not, so Lane knows that it’s better to stick to the friend zone. When Lane makes the spontaneous decision to buy a school bus to convert into her new home, she asks for Matt’s help in both retrieving and restoring the bus. As a mechanic and friend, Matt is happy to offer his assistance. But as the two embark on a road trip and spend time alone along the way, Lane soon realizes that her feelings for Matt are not-so-friendly after all. She may not be able to offer Matt her heart, but going back to being just friends seems impossible.
I loved the first book in this series, Next of Kin, so I was eager to dive into this despite the fact that the tropes are not a perfect fit for me. Friends to lovers and friends with benefits are both tropes that rarely win me over, but I really enjoyed the road trip aspect of this. Plus, Matt is such a sweetheart that I couldn’t help but fall for him – this giant teddy bear of a man who works with his hands all day, has Jason Momoa vibes, and is CLEARLY very gone for his girl. The connection between Lane and Matt was obvious, and the forced proximity cranked everything up a notch. I struggled with Lane though, and I think this is one instance where having dual perspectives may have helped. We’re in her headspace the entire time, and that got frustrating after awhile. I needed a break from her hesitation and personal struggles, though I empathized with her as well. There’s a strong emphasis on Lane’s unresolved issues surrounding her father’s death and her battle with anxiety, which make this a richer, more emotional read. Much of it is light, sexy, and swoony, but there are also those darker moments to balance things out. Fans of friends to lovers are sure to love this in a big way, and it’s got me very excited to continue with the series.
Two friends (who are totally not in love) work together to renovate a school bus into a home.
Lane is in the middle of an identity crisis. Her friends are all partnered up, her career is leading nowhere, and simply put, she’s not happy. So after a night out celebrating (drinking) on her birthday, she makes one hell of an impulsive purchase. A giant yellow forty-eight passenger school bus that she intends to make a home.
With little-to-no renovation experience but a large sum of inheritance money, Lane enlists the help of her friend Matt—a mechanic by trade, handyman by practice, and hottie by nature.
While their mutual attraction is undeniable, Matt and Lane have silently agreed that a friendship is the only thing that can ever exist between them. Matt’s a total family guy with “settle down with me” tattooed across his forehead, whereas Lane is entirely commitment-averse.
So when Matt offers to help her with the bus and in the bedroom with no strings attached, Lane’s feelings evolve faster than you can say “just good friends.” But she soon discovers that in order to build something new, she has to first heal her past.
Start the series today!
These will read as standalones easily, but the found family aspect is great. Also, I loved Next of Kin!
Two bickering strangers, Chloe and Warren, are partnered by Child Protective Services to qualify for next of kin fostering of their younger siblings.
When people-pleasing Chloe learns that her birth mother has unexpectedly had another baby, she doesn’t hesitate to become a next-of-kin guardian. But when she fails to pass Child Protective Services’ financial evaluation, she is faced with a choice: see her baby sister placed in foster care or participate in CPS’ new initiative, TeamUp.
Enter Warren, a surly mechanic’s apprentice attempting to get custody of his deaf fifteen-year-old brother after failing CPS’ housing evaluation. The two strangers immediately clash but agree to live together until Warren can find housing elsewhere and Chloe can further grow her freelance career.
As their lives intertwine, Chloe and Warren both realise that they’re far more similar than they could have imagined. What started as forced begins to feel natural—and far less lonely. Chemistry soon intensifies beyond what either of them can stand, but they must each decide if what burns between them is worth risking their arrangement.
With banter, heart, and steam that will have the reader blushing, NEXT OF KIN is a true underdog story of two young adults redefining what family can look like.
Read the review here
About the Author:
Hannah has been a fan of stories -both written and spoken- her entire life. An admirer from a young age of the Austens and Brontës of the world, Hannah’s favourite stories are, at their core, about love.
When books are not only able to feature the romantic love between the couple but the wonderful other forms of love that change, challenge, and surround us—magic happens. That is Hannah’s goal.
Hannah writes stories featuring a cast of diverse, disabled, marginalized, and LGBTQIA+ folks wherein complex and swoon-worthy storylines coexist and blend with the beautiful realities of life, in all its messy glory.
You can find Hannah at @hannahby_writes on Instagram OR visit her website hannahbywrites.com
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