Saturday, 29 April 2017

Beyond The Friend Zone

Author: Multiple
Genre: Short Stories/Romance/Drama
Book Rating: 7
Personal Rating: 7

This book was almost amazing.  Like I wanted to fall madly in love with it but ultimately couldn't. Two stories didn't quite stick to the theme, and others had awkward plot devices.  Each story gets a review, so this is going to be long and may contain plot spoilers.

Mechanics of Love

This could've been a five.  The chemistry between the leads Nora and Olly was good.  The story moved at a decent pace.  But the ending.  Didn't even read it.  The moment it was like yes the big payoff has arrived.  Then... Drama, a fight for no reason, and so on.
 Like why was it even necessary for the Ex to show up.  If I take the whole ending sequence out and stop right when the steamy lovemaking was about to happen the story isn't just good.  Its freakn awesome.  It just wasn't necessary, and it deflated the love two life long friends had for each other with details that the reader just didn't need.  And the whole not hiring a guy because of something he did way, way back as a teen.  And it was something that all teens do.  Small town or not, you're broke he has the skills.  A fully trained mechanic is better than going further into the red.  Just throwing drama in at the end because, you know, chick lit must have drama, did more harm than good. 3stars

A weekend at the lake

This story was fun fun fun.  This book only had one thing in it that bugged me.  Friends coming together for the weekend, nude water antics.  What more could you ask for from a good story?  Alison was fun to read, and Daniel... swoons.  The story transitions well the sexual tension is perfect.  Just so much awesome going on here.  Definitely an on the edge of my seat why won't you just kiss already kind of book.  Awesome.  The problem is the drama selling point of this story made no sense either.  How are you going to try to find someone's room in a mini mansion,  clearly state to yourself you might have to open every room to find someone and then jump to a conclusion when you see them walking into someone else's room.  Now if you had not just finished swimming and making out naked in the water fine.  But after all that steamy wet goodness, having to run into the house naked cause your clothes are too far away, in what dream universe would someone just up and go into the drunken person's room when they already know how hot you are for them.  And then if you have been friends since college, assumptions aside, why the hell didn't you just ask.  So he went into (insert character's name) room.  Hell, why not up the drama by going to the door to listen to see if they are indeed having sex.  If you are going to be irrational nothing like some hard evidence.  I just couldn't get on board for someone just being 'oh he doesn't want me' after so many clear, obvious signs to the contrary.  Thankfully this ending situation wasn't as long lived as the previous story.  Thus keeping it in four-star awesomeness. 4stars

Hanna's Folly

This one had so much potential.  I could've loved it, but my main issue was personal boundaries.  Friend isn't looking for love, friend doesn't want relationship, just let them be.  Too much subtle, you just need love in your life, like there's something wrong with being a successful independent woman.  Secondly, anyone with half a brain could see the love connection, it didn't need even a modicum of friend pushing to get it happening.  The story itself was written well but I just continuously felt through the whole thing that there was something wrong with not wanting the traditional and it downplayed the awesomeness and the success that was Hanna.  If the love would've unfolded with her not needing to somehow be saved, and the guy just slipped in through her defenses, and she found herself madly in the throws of love, without all the undertone of how she needed a man to let go and find herself, then this would've been more than amazing.  As it was, it felt more like a conventional vrs non-conventional type of story, and I thought Hanna was fine as is, and a little love interest would've just added to her awesomeness. 3stars

Just Like You

This one is almost a four star.  It suffered, in my opinion from the same issue as A Weekend at the Lake.  The difference here is that this one was actually important to the plot.  So sad cause this story was one of my favs.  Woman on a mission to success.  Gets a fake boyfriend for the party so she can pretend she has a real life outside the job.  Sexy bestie agrees to the sham.  Gay cubicle buddy best friend also bringing a fake (female) date.  Honestly what more could you want from a story? Fun.  Fun.  Fun.   So things go well and close to the end of the show you walk by a scene that seems to look like your pretend date is embracing your boss.  The one you need the promotion from, and you storm off.  Sigh.  Why do romance authors do this?  Seriously you have known someone since your teens.  You are best friends. How could you not know his type of woman and more than that, no sane person blows up your phone and even goes to your mama's house unless there is something important to tell.  How can you be best friends for more than half your life and not, for days on end, even listen to one voice message?  Not call them yourself.  Not give them a chance to explain.  Just 'oh you were making out with my boss', and you can't even give your friend the care enough to argue with them.  Just cut off contact.  Who does this?  How could any real friend not know their own friend well enough to not jump to conclusions?  With every ignored call I just got annoyed like as a friend you should give them the respect to answer the phone.  This plot point was too pivotal and ruined an amazing, and I mean amazing story.  This one was one of my favs but as with the Mechanics of Love, this ending just deflated this story for me.  3stars

The perfect catch

This one.  It was good.  What's not to like about a guy that does MMA fighting on the side as a hobby.  Tall manly and... yeah.  I think the problem with this book was that it was too obvious.  Best friends get naked.  They both decided to just move on with life.  From there on I was like the jealousy stuff is going to come.  It did.  It's just people tend to do a much better job of faking normal then they did here.  Nick getting all older brother protective all of a sudden,   Nat immediately getting jealous.  There was none of that silent jealousy, pretending you don't care outwardly but on the inside hating that you aren't the other person.  It was very formulaic.  And if you both realise you like each other enough to be jealous how do you conclude the friendship was a mistake.  If you are willing to end the friendship, and you were afraid to get into a relationship because of it, then why you just ending it all without trying.  Ultimately if you're going to lose the friendship anyway might as well take a chance at romance.  The same result will come either way.  That was really what undid this story for me.  If you don't want to lose the friendship and you are aware you have feelings for each other, you just end it?  So the friendship is lost anyway.  I can't make any logical sense out of a permanent end to friendship vrs a possible end to friendship.  The love might work or not, but there is no way to know this. However, a mutual end to the friendship is certain.  Friendship over.  All the formulaic plot points that is this story I was willing to ignore.  This,  well it just defied too much logic.  3.5 stars

Missed Signals

This story was a delight to read.  I smiled so, so much, it was one of two that I'll say did not stick to the beyond the friend zone theme as these two characters had previously dated all the way to almost engagement in college.  So a doctor on a cruise ship, a successful Attorney ex, oh the fun to be had.  Sam sold this book, he had me from the moment he unpacked Kates bag and knew exactly how she wanted her toiletries laid out.  Too much fun to be had, this had five stars written all over it. This short could've been a five but right down to the wire and... sigh, another ending that was unnecessary.  This is def a plot spoiler.  So you're going to propose to a girl, expect her to pack up during college and move to be your trophy wife and she, of course, declines to pave her own way.  Then she tells you again years later, she's trying to work out her life on her own terms and you drop her the same offer.  Who does this?  Why can't she want to pave her own way, whether she has started her new job or not?  Why can't the man get up and move his life, why couldn't he do it the first time he asked years previously in college.  And then he got mad when she said no.  This reminded me a teeny bit of Hanna's Folly for the reason that it made me feel like it wasn't okay for a woman to want to step out on her own and be independent.  If anything he should've proposed they get engaged and allow her time to think about it.  She had months before her job started.  Being all ultimatum about it was pushy, and he was my favourite character showing a total disregard of her circumstances, doing the same stuff twice and then it actually working out for him.  Needless to say, I was annoyed.  But.  I love, love, loved this story so much.  As far as plot flow and set up and drama, besides the end, this story was on point and then some.  4.5 stars easy.

Coming Out Of the Friend Zone

This one was tricky.  Mostly because I didn't really get any of those annoying plot device vibes like all the previous shorts.  It had a decent pace, a steady flow of tension.  And a surprise ending.  I think for me the problem was in the secret.  It read almost like the reader should know and the drama and tension should've come from the object of desire and their cluelessness to this.  It made a few moments awkward.  Like the argument about Abby and their date didn't lift because I couldn't get into where Brett was coming from.  What couple doesn't show PDA's?  It's a normal occasion.  Instead of me being held in suspense I was more this guy has some serious psychological issues that need addressing if this is argument worthy.  There was another scene also where two guys addressed Abby and instead of me feeling like, well what's wrong with her, it came off more awkward because of the wording than a suspenseful, oh I'm intrigued to find out why they hate Abby.  That was it's only flaw really.  In order to make the reveal at the end work there needed to be this suspenseful avoiding the issue storytelling and sometimes it felt more awkward instead of alluring.  And the ending came just a teeny bit too quick.  The reveal felt like it needed a little more time to settle in instead of a gut-punch of a reveal.  And Brett actually gave Abby time to consider packing up and running away with him.  Like any good friend would.  No ultimatum.  Just think about it, and even if you don't come, you'll know where to find me.  That's what I'd expect a good friend even if secretly in love to do.  Other than the sometimes awkward ways in which to hide the ending this book didn't have any typical plot devices of this romance/chick lit genre and most importantly, Brett is a baker.  Who doesn't like a guy that works with his hands? Swoons.  4.5 stars.

Always Never

Sigh.  This book started off with so much amazing setup.  I mean really good.  Lifetime friends going from adolescence all the way into adulthood.  And that nice teasing friendship anyone with a good long term friend can relate to oozed out of every page of this.  The usual cliches of this genre really did this one in for me.  When Bree dated for the first time, and Rowan was getting all teen boy jealous she pretty much put him down like whatever, I'll date who I want.  Which I liked. There was that whole predictable guy likes girl gets unreasonably jealous to amp up drama stuff.  The only thing that saved this was the way she handled the after date text exchange.  But not enough to bring me back on board.  Then later Rowan dates in college and Bree quite literally cuts him off.  Seriously how you going to get all mad when he big brother interrogates you about your date and then years later in college time, when you aren't even in the same zip code anymore, not only get mad but completely cut your supposed to be best friend out of your life.  The hypocrisy of it all.  And then get a little peevy that you didn't know they broke up when it was your fault for nixing communication.  And then, third time for this anthology, the ex shows up right after you and your best friend cross the more than friends barrier and... oh you must still love her if she's here.  Ugh.  Honestly, he just told you he wants to be more than friends you should sit down on the couch or something, give her the evil glare and wait for her to leave.  Like chick he just told me he wants me, I'll be damned to let you ruin that.  But nope.  Assumption jumping to be had and... oh you know the rest.  Obviously, there's a happy ending.  But getting mad at your friend for being jealous and then turning around and doing all those same things and not giving him the chance, in the end, to explain why the ex was there.  Just too much.  I couldn't get on board with this story.  2.5stars

Last Stand

Strays the furthest from beyond the friend zone.  The romance was not really there.  It was well written but didn't fit.  There was a lot about the war, fighting, it was told from the male voice which wasn't that bad but.... I just read the book with a big load of why.  Unless I already knew why the war was happening there wasn't enough time to flesh out a back story.  The friendship dynamic was more of a raised in war Dynamic.  Which also is fine but again budding romance not really there.  It was more like by law we aren't allowed, to show PDA's, marry, copulate, so there was nothing to go beyond.  It wasn't allowed so it was almost like it was never even considered.  I found myself following this war trying to figure out the ins and outs and all that of what's going on, and there just wasn't enough page time.  And when the romance finally happened, there was the save it for marriage stuff.  Really you can get bombed in the next five minutes.  Just get naked already.  Laws had to be lifted to get married or even hug, just too much I was supposed to be invested in but I mostly just cared about the war which I didn't feel like I came out with enough info of.  And the I know enough about sex to know the man should be on top line... I am so hoping with all that's within me that this line is really because of the year the book is set in and not for real.  All positions are good for sex this the man should be in control stuff just bugged me.  And the ending, reeducation.  So the powers that be are actually good guys, or did they save the main characters in order to trick them to their cause and further push their tyranny agenda, what is really going on here?  I don't know how else to say it but the war stuff was written extremely well but not enough for me to really figure out what was going on, and the love interest didn't develop half as well as the war plot line.  Just all around this book screamed I need more pages and I don't fit the theme. It seemed out of place with the others and just did not manage to make me connect with its characters and especially the romance it should've had.  2stars.

Overall too much suspension of reality and normal human behaviour was needed for me to fall into some of these stories and it messed with some particularly clever writing.  I should've loved it, but I didn't.

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