Solid but not sensational, Liese has set the bar so high for herself that I can’t help but feel like there were some missed opportunities in this fake friendship romance, even if a lot of it is very good. There have been a couple of STELLAR books in this series, so I eagerly await each one – and I was particularly excited about this installment. I love a good girl/bad boy pairing, and one of my favorite tropes is fake relationship, so this had all the ingredients of a great read. We’ve gotten to know Ziggy throughout the course of the series, and I thought Sebastian made her perfect partner. He’s in need of some love in his life, and he’s just the kind of guy who can shake things up in Ziggy’s world. Their first interactions had me SO invested in the story, but the execution ended up being pretty sedate. It felt like so much time was spent on internal thoughts and feelings, handling everything in a mature and responsible way, that the romance suffered. We barely scratched the surface on some of the romantic elements I was most looking forward to, and that left me a little disappointed. But there’s a lot of good stuff going on in the story, and I never mind being back with the Bergmans.
The story follows Ziggy, a 22-year-old soccer star who is tired of being treated like a child. She’s the baby of the family and someone with a good girl reputation, and she’s ready to make it clear that she’s an adult now. So when Ziggy sees her brother’s teammate, Sebastian, struggling to shed his bad boy persona, she has an idea. Spending time with Sebastian and developing a fake friendship with him will allow others to see both of them in a different light, and hopefully that will be just what they both need to stand on their own two feet. But Ziggy soon discovers that there’s more to Sebastian than meets the eye, and hanging out with him is not a hardship. Sure, he’s a little bit of a mess, but he is certainly not the lost cause that he seems to think he is. Forming a fake friendship with Ziggy sparks something inside of Sebastian, and it’s not long before he’s daydreaming of a very different sort of relationship with her.
I’ll be honest and say that I think the series has become uneven, with the earlier books being the stronger ones. Liese has become such a rising star that I can only imagine how much she’s got on her plate, so it’s really no surprise that this is missing the spark of those early books. And that’s the major thing that stands out to me with this – it was really easy to put down. I enjoyed my time with Ziggy and Sebastian as I was immersed in their world, but this isn’t the kind of book that’s going to stay with me. I wanted more moments with them together, talking and building that chemistry. I wanted more time with them faking the friendship. It’s very much a near-strangers to friends to lovers, SUPER slow burn romance. I love a good slow burn, but the time jumps in this extinguished a lot of the tension and did some of the heavy lifting for the relationship development. Show me the development, don’t tell me about it. So I definitely have some mixed feelings about the book as a whole, but I was emotionally invested enough that things bothered me – and that’s usually a sign that something is working. This sits somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me, but there are a lot of 5-star moments buried within the pages.
The audio is pretty good! I’ve been seeing a lot more of CJ Bloom recently, and she does a great job. Her voice has really grown on me over the last several books I’ve listened to, and her crisp performance is skilled and relaxing. Nelson Hobbs’ voice has also grown on me, but he’s still not a favorite of mine. Something about his voice comes across as being snobby and kind of aristocratic, which wasn’t a good fit for Sebastian’s character. The majority of the chapters are from Ziggy’s POV though, so it wasn’t a big problem – and it’s also definitely personal preference. He does perform well. The super slow burn lended itself perfectly to the audio format, and you could certainly listen to this at the office. There’s very little heat, and the emotional/somber tone makes it easy to get drawn in. The runtime (around 11 hours) is more than I can fit into a workday, but doable in a single day. So I do recommend the audio as a whole.
Find it on Libro.fm here
Brace yourself for longing, laughter, and a swoony slow-burn in this brother’s best friend sports romance about scoring the love of your life when you least expect to.
I’m the youngest player on the National Soccer team, the baby of my family, and thoroughly sick of being underestimated, so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. Which is where my brother’s best friend and teammate, the infamous Sebastian Gauthier, comes in.
Seb needs to rehab his reputation. I want to give mine an edge. So I propose a fake friendship with real benefits: spending time in the public eye, my good-girl image and his bad-boy notoriety rubbing off on each other. He’s my devious, dark-haired fantasy come to life, but his destructive ways make it easy to keep him in the (fake) friend zone. Or so I thought, until I start to see the heart of gold he’s been hiding beneath that sinister surface…
Like any self-respecting reprobate, I’ve been spiraling downward, and finally I’ve hit rock bottom. My hockey career and sponsorships are in jeopardy, and while I’m not ready to actually reform my ways, I’m happy to pretend that I have, to secure the life I’m on the brink of losing.
So when my best friend’s sister, Ziggy Bergman, proposes a public “friendship” to revamp our reputations, it’s an offer I can’t refuse. Up till now, I’ve stayed away from Ren’s sweet, shy little sister to avoid any risk of ruining my one good friendship. But I reassure myself there’s no risk in our scheme. I’ll fake a friendship with Ziggy, fix my reputation, and get back to hockey, the one and only thing I love. At least, it was, until what began as a transactional arrangement became the most loving relationship I’ve ever known.
If Only You is a brother’s best friend, (fake) friends with benefits to friends to lovers romance about a bighearted, quietly fierce soccer star on the autism spectrum, and a thoroughly unprincipled, almost irredeemable hockey player who has celiac disease. Complete with an absurd level of mutual pining, meddling family and friends, and a spicy slow burn, this standalone is the sixth in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
Start the series today!
Liese is best known for her Bergman Brothers series, and two of the books have made it on my Best of the Year lists (so far). Now is the perfect time to check out the series if you haven’t yet! Each book follows a different member of the Bergman family, so you might enjoy reading them in order. I’ve been doing things all out of order, and that hasn’t been a problem either! My personal favorites are Always Only You (reverse grumpy/sunshine) and Ever After Always (marriage in trouble).
Only When It’s Us
Always Only You
Read the review here
Ever After Always
Read the review here
With You Forever
Read the review here
Everything for You
Read the review here
About the Author:
Chloe writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats.
Connect with Chloe:
Follow Jeeves on social media!
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases