Skeptic scale: ♥♥♥
I've been on a Australasia binge lately! A lot of Karina Bliss and Sarah Mayberry. Fun stuff.
So... I liked this one okay.
There was something about the friends-to-lovers thing that didn't really strike me as believable in this one. I know friends-to-lovers is a popular theme for many romance readers, but I don't really like them because I feel like it gives more ammunition to the side of the world that believes that girls and boys can't be friends - something I absolutely do not accept and do not believe at all.
In this case, H & h have been friends since childhood and there has been no hint of a romantic interest between the two of them that whole time. Well, except for this one tiny kiss they share when she's drunk and lonely.
Then he comes back from a traumatic experience while fighting in Afghanistan and announces he wants to marry her.
He: Ex-soldier, insists that 'everything is fine' but we sense that he's going through some terrible stress. And even though he's always been a good friend to her, he's kept himself apart.
She: She's a strong, independent, competent lady. She's always been capable of taking care of her own affairs and has never played the damsel in distress with him - something that he has said he truly appreciates. But then when she goes through this terrible stressful situation, she feels like she shouldn't really burden him with her crap, especially since he's clearly been affected by the war and she doesn't want to add to that.
Conflict: This is the part that felt a bit "off kilter" to me. I see why the would be a good match, but how come they never saw it all those years they were friends. And then, I wasn't quite sure how they each SUDDENLY knew this was the right decision? I guess in life, people don't necessarily have a seminal moment that explains everything they do, but surely they had hints?
Anyway so the story conflict is that when she does realize she loves him, she wants them to marry for the right reasons, not because they are both too scared of life.
There is some weird stuff right at the end where he goes through this whole "Grand Gesture" that is supposed to prove that they are meant to be together - that they are both facing their fears and taking real risks to be with one another. But honestly, I really didn't get it. The main trouble for me was that the gesture didn't really seem to be tied to their actual fears - except maybe in a distantly symbolic way.
Skeptic's last word: So. All in all, a decent read, but I thought the "falling in love" stuff was really rather abrupt and there was none of the regular tension built up between them that would convince me that they really wanted each other. I came away feeling like they were both kind of just "settling" for their best friend. Not a terrible way to begin a relationship, of course, just not really the way you'd hope.