The Best Friend Bargain
by Robin Bielman
Kisses in the Sand #2
Publication Date: August 8, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled Lovestruck, Contemporary Romance
Olivia Lincoln has a plan guaranteed to get her life back on track. A plan that involves her best friend, Danny. And he’s on board, too…until she blurts out that they’re engaged and expecting a baby, and the news spreads like wildfire.
The problem? Danny doesn’t do marriage. Or family. And everyone knows it, including Olivia.
As irritated as he might be, protecting Olivia is what Danny does. But put best friends under one roof, add house rules begging to be broken, accidental nakedness, and pancakes in bed, and what started as a marriage between friends threatens to turn into the real deal…which would ruin everything.
“Sorry,” she murmured. “But we’re having a wedding.”
Danny took her hand and gave a gentle tug so she had to follow him. “Instead of a swear jar, I’m going to start a sorry jar and charge you a dollar for every time you say it.” He led her to the couch. “Knock it off, okay?” He propped an extra pillow behind her back and sat far enough away for her to straighten her legs and put her feet in his lap.
She’d baked him chocolate chip cookies this morning. It was payback time.
“When?” he asked, taking her heel and massaging the bottom of her foot.
It took her a minute to realize he meant the wedding. “New Year’s Eve.”
He let out a breath. “Okay. Sounds good.”
“No it doesn’t.” She knew he was just appeasing her.
“It does actually. My original concern had to do with family and friends making a big production of it, but I can deal with something small. We’re friends doing this for a good reason, Liv, and a ceremony means something to you.”
Friends. She was starting to hate that word. She understood his explanation, but because he obviously wasn’t feeling any of the new sensations between them that she was, he didn’t see the harm in his casual attitude.
He rubbed the ball of her foot, making her sink a little further into the couch.
Silence rained between them like a hailstorm. She had to tell him about the unwelcome but stubborn desires making her hot and needy before she acted on impulse and did something stupid like jump him.
“Things are different,” she whispered to her lap, unable to meet his eyes when she admitted that.
When he didn’t answer right away, she looked up.
Pain filled the line between his furrowed brows, but agreement and…she couldn’t take a breath for a moment…heat shimmered in his direct gaze. “Yeah.”
Her toes started to tingle, the buzz continuing up her legs and spreading over every inch of her skin. He shared her crazy attraction. Comfort mixed with desire. “I should leave.”
“No. I want you to stay.”
A thrill moved up her spine. So did fear and uncertainty. “I’d die if anything happened to our friendship, Danny.”
“They say relationships ruin the best friendships, you know.”
He gave her the look that said, “Are you finished?” She pressed her lips together.
“Nothing is going to happen between us, Liv. Not like that. It will pass, whatever this is. I think we’re just straddling a line we never imagined we’d find ourselves standing on. It’s not your fault,” he was quick to add, taking in her upset expression. “Emotions are running kind of high at the moment, but we’ve got our rules. We’ve got fifteen years of friendship. The fact that we’re both feeling something new and feeling worried about it, means we can handle it and move forward without screwing anything up.”
Liv nodded in agreement.
“We good, then?”
Throughout the book, it felt like Olivia did a lot of things without either really thinking about the consequences (like asking her best friend to marry her to smooth things over with her mother but never considering how his parents, who supposedly were more “parent” to her than her own, will take it) or paying attention to what is right in front of her (like when the baby’s father comes to see her–he barely acknowledges her pregnancy, and she notes to herself that he’s acting very detached and noncommittal, yet at the same time she’s seriously considering that they might get back together and thinks that he truly wants her? What??) and it was frustrating.
Danny was way too hung up on his determination to live his life alone because of his degenerative eye disease. Honestly, he needed to get over himself. People manage to live happy, fulfilling lives with disabilities all the time. I guess I can understand not wanting to pass it on if it’s genetic, but that’s obviously not a problem with Olivia’s baby, so…
The two of them went awfully quickly from “just friends” to something more–it didn’t seem like either one of them had had those kind of feelings about each other before, so it felt a little abrupt. Only one of them could claim to be affected by pregnancy hormone horniness, after all. 😉
The email exchanges between the two of them were very cute, though, and one of my favorite parts of the book. They reminded me of Meg Cabot’s Boy series, and I was happy to see them pop up frequently throughout.
I am generally a huge fan of the friends-to-lovers troupe; however, while The Best Friend Bargain was sweet, it isn’t going to be making my top ten list for the genre. Though it’s the third in the series it should work just fine as a standalone.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
A temporary agreement neither could keep…
Brainy, organized Sophie Birch is no beach bunny. In fact, she’s totally out of her element among the sun-bronzed crowd at a film festival in beautiful White Strand Cove. When a surf lesson introduces her to Zane Hollander, suddenly she’s up close and personal with the world’s sexiest surf star. But what can a great-looking, experienced athlete possibly see in a klutzy out-of-towner who’s never set foot in the ocean?
Zane Hollander’s playboy reputation has never been a problem…until recently. Now his management team wants him on his best behavior to entice a meaningful new sponsor. Sophie Birch is the perfect girl to help reform his image. She’s genuine and respected—and their relationship is purely fictional. But the more Sophie blooms under the beachy sun, the more Zane knows he’ll just break her heart. Because nothing’s more important to Zane than following the tide.
Synopsis: The one guy she shouldn’t want…
Honor Mitchell has lived with guilt and regret for a long time, so when she promises to do the things on her dying best friend’s wish list, she’s determined to follow through and do something right for a change. But when she’s thrown together for wedding duties with the one man who complicates her vow–just by looking at him–she has to put her faith in Bryce Bishop’s pledge to help her, no strings attached.
Bryce’s near one-night stand with his ex-girlfriend’s best friend a few months ago might have been a mistake, but helping the beautiful, free-spirited Honor with her promise isn’t. His trust in women is shot, but he can’t help but play his best man card to his advantage and help Honor tick off the items on his ex’s list, even if it puts him in a no-win situation. Because his assistance might get Honor what she wants, but suddenly being the do-good guy puts his plans–and heart–in serious jeopardy.