Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More Than Friends by Jody Holford (Review)

Release date: December 5th, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC - Bliss

(review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

Description (from Goodreads):

Owen Burnett planned on a quiet, easygoing Christmas, hanging out with his best friend and neighbor, Gabby Michaelson. So when his mom pressures him to come home for the holidays, he tells a little white lie…that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But when his family shows up unexpectedly, Owen pulls the best friend card and asks Gabby to play his fake girlfriend.

Gabby’s been hopelessly in love with her best friend Owen for what feels like forever, but playing his "fake" girlfriend when the entire boisterous Burnett clan visits is easier said than done. The more she tries to deny the attraction between them, the more obvious their chemistry becomes. But even though she's not the only one feeling it, putting their friendship on the line is a risk she can’t take.

I don't pick up books like this very often, but almost every time I do, I keep telling myself I should do it more often. I am obsessed with romantic Hallmark movies, and while I read this, I kept thinking that this story is like a Hallmark movie, just in a literary form. 

While Hallmark movies might be trash for some, I absolutely love them, mostly because there is comfort in knowing that there will be a happy ending in the future. As the title of this suggests, the characters end up being more than friends. Rather than spending time questioning whether falling in love will happen, you can take comfort in the knowledge that it will, and rather focus on enjoying the experience of finding out HOW it all happens. 

Owen is a geeky tech guy who works from home. He likes his solitude and lives his life by certain kind of order. His best friend and neighbor Gabby is his total opposite in many ways, but it is impossible for his to imagine his life without her.

When Owen tells his family that he wants to spend the Christmas with his girlfriend, he soon finds himself faced with a problem. Lying about a relationship in hopes of avoiding the hustle and bustle of family Christmas does not work out quite the way he expected. His family is coming over for the holidays and he has to find a girlfriend for himself before that. Or could he just continue the lie and fake a relationship with someone who knows him better than anyone else?

This is where Gabby comes in. She has been in love with Owen for a while now, and while she knows faking a relationship with Owen will probably hurt her in the long run, she cannot resist the chance to see whether she actually has chemistry with him. But as Owen's family arrives, the fake relationship gets deeper and suddenly starts to feel so much more real than expected for both Owen and Gabby.

I think books like this have to be approached with a mindset that does not insist on questioning every single decision the characters make. That is often hard for me, but More than Friends managed to pull me in in a way that made it possible for me just to enjoy the ride. Sure, I kept questioning Owen's decision to lie in the first place and his choice to keep up with the lie. And yes, I found the weird robbery story line that takes place on the side a bit unnecessary and questioned the author's decision to include it there (though if this ends up being a series, then it makes more sense, because through that story line the author was able to introduce other people who live in the building). 

Gabby and Owen are both likable as characters, and I really enjoyed their interaction together. Since this book is quite short, quite a bit happens in a short span of time, but then fact that they have been friends for a long time makes it easier to believe that they suddenly fall in love. Owen's family is also filled with interesting personalities, and I definitely would not mind reading more about them, if there is to be continuations for this novel. 

As I said, I could totally see this one as a Hallmark Christmas movie. There are actually quite many of these "I need someone to pretend to be my boyfriend/girlfriend for the holidays" films out there, but I liked these characters so much that I think they could add a wonderful addition to Hallmark's line-up. 

If you are looking for a romantic, quick book to read during the holidays, definitely check out More than Friends by Jody Holford. And if you are like me and love Hallmark romances, you DEFINITELY should give this one a go!


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