Gouda Friends by Cathy Yardley
March 22, 2022, by Montlake
Review by Melanie
This was one of the CUTEST contemporary romances I’ve read in a long time. Cathy Yardley is a new to me author but I will most definitely be checking out her backlist because based on this novel, her voice just really worked for me.
This is the second book I’m reviewing for Smexy that has identical themes in that the book focuses quite a bit on FMCs personal journey as a character and her growth. However, unlike the first book (Sadie on a Plate), this book is definitely a full-fledged romance and the love interest is very much a main character. In fact, this is a dual POV novel and I loved being able to get inside both Tam and Josh’s head as they ever so slowly stumble their way into love.
This novel very much contains one of my favorite tropes: a friends to lovers between two longtime best friends who, upon suddenly realizing the inconvenient truth that they are attracted to each other (gasp!), decide to bang it out once to get it out of their system and then oops, there are feelings, oh, no, WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING?!? Yes, it’s kind of a mouthful but as a trope, totally delightful.
Tam and Josh, best friends since high school, haven’t seen each other in years. But when Tam comes home from work unexpectedly early and finds her boyfriend in bed with another woman, she flies back home to seek comfort and refuge in the arms of her long-time best friend. In the course of a weekend, she ends up losing her boyfriend, the apartment they shared, and ultimately her job, a dead-end gig that paid too little and asked too much of her.
Totally at loose ends, Tam has to figure out who she is and what she wants while unpacking the baggage of her upbringing and also battling her ever growing attraction to a guy she’s only ever seen as a friend.
Josh is the ultimate nurturing, care-taking hero. I adored him and the way he always had Tam and her best interests at heart. I mean, he comes to pick her up at the airport with a cooler full of artisanal cheese! (Tam loves cheese, it actually plays a significant role in why she breaks up with her boyfriend, even aside from catching him in bed with another woman). Even when he was taking control of Tam’s job search and encouraging her to find her bliss, he only had the very best intentions at heart. Watching these two lovable goofs side-step their feelings for each other even as they give into their growing sexual attraction was so fun to watch.
I also really loved the friend group in this book, the Nerd Herd. This book is a series – this is the second book in the series and I will definitely be going back to read the first book and I hope that the other unattached members of the Nerd Herd all get their own books because I would definitely read more about all of these characters.
One of the reasons the relationship between Josh and Tam doesn’t seem all that quick or sudden is because they have such an established history with each other, as best friends and as members of the Nerd Herd. And even though they fell out of touch, they are always there for each other whenever needed. While much of the book is about Tam being at crossroads in her life and Josh being the one to take care of her, it was easy to see this is very much a two-way street for them and that their love and care for each other went both ways.
It’s a sweet, tender, small town romance with a great found family and I loved watching Tam find herself, both professionally and personally as she gave into her feelings for Josh.
Content notes: Tam walks in on her boyfriend in bed with another woman (he is NOT the hero), fat shaming from Tam’s ex-boyfriend, another woman who leases commercial space in Josh’s building makes inappropriate overtures towards him and threatens to lie and sue him for harassing her, Tam’s ex bf vilifies her on social media and spreads lies, gaslighting her over the end of their relationship;