Reviewed by Kini
Favorite Quote: “Oh, I saw that in the store where I bought the condoms, and I wanted to… give you something,” Noah said like it was no big deal. He chuckled in a way that might have bordered on self-deprecating. “Something besides condoms.”
Oh, shit. She was past the point of no return. She burst into tears. Which of course brought him to her side in a flash. Damn him. Damn him to hell. Why did he have to be so fucking thoughtful all the time? Because he was a thoughtful, kind person. That was the terrible truth. He always had been, and he was now. The part in the middle, where he stood her up at the dance? It had been an aberration.
“What is it, then?” he asked quietly.
She stayed bent over, even though she knew she couldn’t hide from him indefinitely. She needed a moment to… put on her armor.
“Please, tell me what’s wrong.”
I’m in love with you, that’s what’s wrong. She stood up, met his eyes, and opened her palm. “You got me a Pez.”
He smiled uncertainly. “Which I would not have done if I’d known it was going to make you cry.”
And you don’t love me back. I tried to harden myself against you all those years ago, but it’s all happening again. “It was more just… that you remembered.”
Y’all know I am biased when it comes to Jenny Holiday, I have loved every book of hers that I have read and this was no different. Wendy is prickly and I LOVED her.
When the book starts, Wendy is preparing to be a bridesmaid to her BFF Jane, the heroine from book one. But we learn that Wendy is not so keen on Cameron, her BFF’s betrothed. And I was 100% here for it. Wendy knows that logically Cameron is a good dude and treats Jane well, but Wendy is jealous and worried about losing her best friend. Who among us hasn’t had complicated feelings about a best friend and someone they are dating? And then that feeling like you are going to lose said friend? Or is this just me that felt like that? Wendy and Jane have been best friends since childhood after they both lost their dads, they created the “dead dads club”. So part of their friendship is so intertwined with the loss of their parent. As a real-life member of the “dead dads club”, I know how much that grief changed relationships, for better and worse, but this isn’t about me. It is about Wendy and I need more Wendy’s in my romance reads. She isn’t all lightness and sweetness, she’s tough. She’ll probably get called unlikeable by some readers. She isn’t outwardly mean, she just has been through a lot. And hasn’t quite let it go. Try not to hold it against her though.
See Wendy was stood up for prom by a young man and she’s carried that hurt for a long time. Since then she’s engaged in casual sex and affairs. And she will NOT allow you to shame her for this. She’s a busy attorney and she’s living the best life she’s allowed herself to live. But deep inside, she’s scared. She’s lost so much already, she doesn’t want to lose more. She doesn’t want to lose herself. She doesn’t want to lose Jane to Cameron. She doesn’t want to lose what is left of her family. She is so focused on loss, it is hard for her to see the love she can gain.
Wendy thinks things like this-
What she hadn’t planned for, though, was getting to that moment. In her imaginings, the successful culmination of this evening involved some very hot sex. Some hot meaningless sex. Some “get the boy out of your system” sex. It did not involve Noah keeping his hand pressed against her lower back, the way guys always did in movies to show they cared about a girl. It did not involve him grabbing her hand and pulling her back when she stepped off the curb slightly prematurely as the light was changing from red to green. Wendy had traveled the world. By herself. She didn’t need anyone to take care of her. More to the point, she didn’t want anyone to take care of her. No, the real truth was that she didn’t want to enjoy being taken care of. Goddammit. Well, she would just have to turn that part of her brain off. She could do that.
Holiday really got me with his passage-
Wendy was a lobster being slowly boiled to death in a pot, the temperature rising so gradually she was oblivious to her impending demise. It was the only way to explain how she’d gone from proclaiming that hand-holding didn’t mix with meaningless fucking to hugging Noah in the shower after they’d spilled their guts about their goddamn childhood traumas.
Noah is Jane’s brother and the young man that stood Wendy up at the prom. He didn’t mean to, he was battling his own issues of being the primary support for his family. Noah is the caretaker and continues to be the caretaker because he just doesn’t know how not to. He is a worthy hero for Wendy. As he is the one that broke her heart, he has to be the one to fix it. He’s lovely and wonderful and for the most part, he handles Wendy with the care she deserves. Their love story was fun and also incredibly emotional.
Holiday also does a fantastic job exploring female friendship. Jane and Wendy are long term BFFs. They met Elise and Gia while in college and their twosome became a foursome. But Wendy wasn’t as close with the other women as she was Jane. We see not only Wendy and Jane’s relationship. But we get to see Gia and Wendy grow their friendship as well.
But seriously, this book is all Wendy. She’s not perfect, she’s not all lightness, she’s a bit closed off, although never mean or malicious. She is flawed, but of course deserving of love. It was a great story to watch her find and believe in her ability to love and be loved by all, not just in a romantic sense. I strongly recommend this book. I beg of you to give Wendy a chance and look past her hard exterior in order to see her wonderful heart.