Review: Just a Boyfriend by Sariah Wilson

justfriend

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Author: Sariah Wilson
Series:  End of the Line #2
Pages: 283

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Ian “Bash” Sebastian and Ember Carlson were high school sweethearts…until their single parents got married. With one thorny twist of fate, a secret young crush went from on fire to off-limits. What could a new stepbrother do but bail? Now, after almost four years, Bash has returned to Seattle, and he’s back in Ember’s orbit at End of the Line. EOL is the go-to college for second-chance scholarships. But what about love?

Sure, the old hurts are there. So is the attraction—and it’s more magnetic than ever. Still, they’re adults now, levelheaded and just fine with the friend thing. If only to make family dinners less awkward. But when they agree to start dating other people, moving on threatens to bring them closer together than ever.

Is it time to admit their past to their parents? Even trickier, their hope for the future? Because Ember and Bash deserve a love story of their own. With all their defenses down, can they make it a happy ever after?

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

First book of the year. 2020 hasn’t started as gloriously as the previous one in the reading aspect of my life, but it hasn’t been horrible. When a book has almost everything I like in this kind of Romance novel and yet it fails to deliver a story that satiates me, something weird must have happened. Let’s see where the weirdness resides in this second book of the End of the Line saga!! (Spoliler alert: most likely the only weird stuff is the reader himself…).

We go back to the EOL college, where we met Logan and Jess, to follow the lives of a new couple in the making… or the re-making as in this case. We meet Bash, another football star who has fallen in disgrace due to the consumption of drugs. He ran away from home several years ago avoiding his problems, but it doesn’t matter how much of an athletic hunk you are…. problems run waaaay faster. That unavoidable issue has a face and a name: Ember. She was his highschool girlfriend, but had to break up with her when their parents got married. In order to please his father, Bash left his home to avoid Ember and never came back. Until now. Both of them go to the same college and even have some classes in common, so they are meant to find each other again. Will they be able to be just friends for the sake of their parents or the forbidden love will be too big to ignore?

In my previous review, I mentioned my love for slow cooked romances in a genre that tends to rush into things in a somehow unbelievable manner. So this story should have been my cup of tea, but this time the beverage lacks of a spoonful or two of sugar. Bash’s and Ember’s story is a very slow dance, but sadly I didn’t feel any kind of anticipation for their getting together. No butterflies in my stomach or the need of biting my nails. Being witness of the development of their relationship has been just an OK experience. It is not boring, but in several moments along the book the pages got a bit longer than physically possible. It was hard to keep the focus, because the dynamic between the characters is almost the same during the whole book. I know that in this kind of romances the reader has to wait for the spark that ignites the fire, but to make it interesting there has to be some “friction” in the meantime. The first book of the saga had a lot of banter in its arsenal to entertain me. That kind of sense of humor would have worked wonders in this book, but we only get a smidgen of it with this couple. Not enough to keep me truly engaged during the slowest times.

What is the source of my frustration with the book? In hindsight I can point out the characters as the main culprits. Being fair, more than the characters, it is the interactions between Ember and Bash. In separate corners of the world they are mostly great characters. Ember is funny, hardworking, too loyal and with a sarcastic drive that made me smile (one that hasn’t been properly exploited, though). Bash is the classic hugable giant of the Romance genre, with a heart as big as his biceps (you get the drill…). But when they are together, we get to see the other side of the coin. A side that I dind’t enjoy and even pissed me off a little bit. First of all, all the drama is based on them hiding to each other their feelings. That is not a problem per se, but with this couple it doesn’t make much sense. At first they are at odds with each other, but pretty soon they are capable of having serious conversations where they talk about everything. So, why don’t they tell each other the truth instead of agonizing like that? It’s like they are punishing themselves without an obvious reason (and we, readers, are the collateral damage). Secondly, I kind of hated their position where the parents were concerned. Bash in particular is so frigging cold towards Tricia and I don’t understand the need of it. It was awkward reading about it, taking into account the rol that plays Tricia’s illness. The same can be said of Ember and Doug. And don’t get me started about Bash’s way of not hurting his father. That was so selfish of him…

Thankfully, the extended cast is a good one and even a great one (the little sisters are a blast). We get to enjoy the presence of Logan and Jess in several moments, which is always good. And we also have the cameos of the peculiar couple formed by Ford and Keilani. Even though that last couple is fun, it kind of annoyed me to read such huge development on their relationship. It upsets me because it looks like they are going to have their own book and I have no idea what is left to tell… There is another couple that deserves a mention: Bethany and Woodby. I’m not sure if they were meant as the comic relief, but if that is the case, it was a total failure. Their personalities are too exagerated and twisted for my enjoyment.

It is not a bad book, but it leans too heavily in just OK in all its departments. The first one was superior in everything. In any case, an easy-to-read story that is more than enough to keep you busy for a little while.

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2020 – Book Gallery

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In the first review of the year there is also the first new word of 2020 to store in my internal dictionary. The winner is:

botch: to spoil by poor or clumsy work

That was wishful thinking of Ember. Bash is way too charming to botch the glamouring of Bethany for their double date. I still have no idea why Bethany wanted to date him, but let’s just roll with it.

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