Thursday, September 15, 2016

REVIEW: "Just Friends" by Monica Murphy (YA/New Adult Romance)

Just Friends
by Monica Murphy

Publisher: EM Publishing
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: September 13th 2016

Series: Friends, #1
Standalone: No
Other Books In Series:
One Night #0.5
Sequel TBA!

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Description from Publisher:
It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.

But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times―and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.

So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.

Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.
My Rating:
Heat Rating:

My Musings:
If you've ever read a book written by Monica Murphy before you know that she has a wonderful way with words. "Just Friends" is no exception! To be honest, this was a bit of a difficult read for me, plot-wise, and I'm a bit torn about my feelings over it. This is largely due to Monica's prowess at weaving a deliciously tangled web.

This story has a jumbled mess of teenage angst, with a bunch of high school Seniors who all feel very lost and like they really have no idea what they are doing. It's written from the point of view of Olivia, "Livvy", and she's not necessarily all that likable. She's shallow and self-centered and frustratingly insecure. Which is actually a fair description of most of the characters in this. Her 'best friends', Dustin and Em, don't necessarily feel like they care about her all that much, or she them. She's been hooking up with Dustin, though she doesn't know that she has stronger romantic feelings for him, though she adores him and he turns her on. She finds out that he has betrayed her and, for some reason, loops Em into this drama as well.

She goes back and forth with these friends throughout the story, slipping in and out of the friend (or more) roles. She also becomes wrapped up in the new guy that was hooking up with Em all summer, Ryan. The love triangle that is presented is a bit awkward, I think, because I didn't actually get a sense of much chemistry between anyone, except maybe Liv's new friend Amanda and her love interest.

It's worth noting that there really are mostly just 'friends' hooking up in this, and that every one of these young adults is involving themselves in messy "friends with benefits" or party hookups. They also spend a lot of time doing other things they really shouldn't be. I do feel like the author got these types of teenagers spot on, though they are the kind of kids that I didn't involve myself with in high school for the same reasons that reading about them makes me cringe now.

I was disappointed at how often EVERYONE was getting high and drunk in this, for instance. They basically couldn't be social without some mind-altering substance, and I didn't feel that it almost ever added anything much to the story. The worst, I think, was Amanda, the "designated driver" drinking half a bottle of vodka before she drove them to a party. The concern there was "I hope you don't get a DUI," rather than "I hope we don't die or kill someone." I'm not sure if this was intentional, but that, and the carefree vulgarity of most of the characters, was a great shortcut to my not particularly liking any of them.

All of that said, I am intrigued. I just couldn't put the book down, and I am eager for the continuation and am definitely interested in seeing where this story goes.

My Source: I received a digital ARC from the publisher to voluntarily review. This in no way influenced my review. My opinion is unbiased and my 100% own.

About Monica Murphy
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she's not writing, she's reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She's a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.
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