Friday, January 24, 2020

Blog Tour Book Review: Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis

Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #4
Audience: Over 18
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: January 21st 2020
My Rating: 4.5 Cups
Source: HarperCollins
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblings…well, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herself…and Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun.
*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of his book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

**Disclaimer: This book contains mature content. As a result, my review may contain references to content intended for mature audiences only.

With each book I read by Jill Shalvis I fall a little bit more in love with the worlds she creates, and her Wildstone series is no exception. I always know I'm going to get a story far more complex than boy meets girl, with a bit of heartbreak, and a lot of life lessons on the side. Which is always something I adore.

Almost Just Friends isn't just the story of Piper falling in love with Camden. It's a story of Piper becoming friends with her younger siblings, it's about Camden being friends with his father. As the love story between Piper and Camden grows, so do the relationships between them and their family members, and what you get is this wonderful story about relationships in general, and about growing up.

Piper is a young woman that didn't get to experience life all that much. Being left in charge of her younger siblings after the tragic death of her parents meant she had to grow up fast. As Gavin, her brother puts it, she had to be their mom, their dad, their enforcer, and their sister all in one, and it's a hard thing to ask from a fourteen year old. But she did it. She put them on the right path, and now she has plans for her own future. She is definitely not going to fall in love with the new guy in town, even if he happens to be her neighbor's son, and a really good guy. I really loved Piper's journey throughout this book. She lost control over so much of her life, that she tries to get control back any way she can, and if that means pushing men away and being lonely then that's what she's going to do. She has a hard time turning the responsible adult part of her brain off when it comes to her siblings, and it's easy to see how much it takes for her to not be a mother hen around them. My heart broke for her when she slowly starts finding out what her siblings have kept from her. I get why they didn't tell her all those things, but at the same time I was very sad for her, and I kind of wanted to slap her brother and sister silly.

Camden is a really nice guy. Like most of the characters in this book, he had his demons. His story is just as sad as Piper's, and as the puzzle pieces start falling into place you discover that he's just trying to forgive himself, just like everybody else. He has Piper's back, which I really loved about him. He starts off being a mystery, even though some scenes are told from his perspective. It takes a while for him to open up, and he does so reluctantly. But he does and again, my heart broke a little. There was a lot of my heart getting broken while reading this book.

Gavin and Winnie, Piper's siblings, have really interesting stories. I didn't fully understand why they felt the need to hide things from Piper, especially when they were very much aware of how hurt she would be by them hiding things, especially since everybody else seemed to know what was going on.

Aside from Piper and Camden's romance, there's a secondary romance that I don't want to talk much about, because it took me by surprise and I want you guys to be just as surprised as I was. I didn't expect it, but I love reading second chance romances, and this one was just perfect.

My favorite side character has to be Emmitt however, Camden's dad. He had some of the funniest moments in the book, and he's the father figure that Piper needed in her life.

All in all, this was a fantastic story that I really enjoyed reading. I am now patiently waiting for the next book in the series.

“I was very clear,” she said when the alcohol burn cleared her throat, eyeing the whole group, most of whom were also first responders and worked with her at the station or hospital in one form or another. “We weren’t going to mention my birthday, much less sing to me about it. Twice.”
Not a single one of them looked guilty. “To Piper,” Ryland said, and everyone raised a glass. “For gathering and keeping all us misfits together and sane.”
“To Piper,” everyone cheered, then, thankfully, conversations started up all around her so that she was finally no longer the center of attention. Everyone was well versed in her ways, which meant they got that while she was touched that they cared, she didn’t want any more attention. Easily accepting that, they were happy to enjoy the night and leave her alone.
“So, did that hurt?” Jenna asked, amused.
“Being loved?”
In tune to the sounds of the bar around them—someone singing off-key to “Sweet Home Alabama,” rambunctious laughter from a nearby table, the clink of pool balls—Piper rolled her eyes.
“You know one day those eyeballs are going to fall right out of your head, right?”
Ignoring this, Piper went back to what she’d been doing before being so rudely interrupted by all the love. Making a list. She was big on bullet journaling. She’d had to be. Making notes and lists had saved her life more than once. And yes, she knew she could do it all on a notes app on her phone instead, but her brain wasn’t wired that way. Nope, she had to do everything the hard way and write that shit down by hand like in the Dark Ages. She flipped through some of her pages: Calendars, Grocery Lists, Future Baby Names (even though she didn’t plan on having babies), Passwords (okay, password, singular, since she always used the same one—CookiesAreLife123!).
And then there were some random entries:
Life Rules
• Occasionally maybe make an effort to look nice.
• Don’t cut your own bangs no matter how sad you are.
• Never ever, EVER, under any circumstances fall in love.
She also had a bucket list of wishes. Oh, and a secret secret bucket list of wishes . . .
Yeah, she clearly needed help. Or a little pill.
“New journal?” Jenna asked.
“Maybe.” Piper’s vices were simple. Basically, she was an office supply ho—a never-ending source of amusement to Jenna, because Piper was also a bit of a hot mess when it came to organization and neatness. Her purse, her car, her office, and also her kitchen always looked like a a disaster had just hit. But her journals . . . those were pristine.
“How many journals have you started and either lost or misplaced since I’ve known you—a million?”
Piper didn’t answer this on the grounds that she might incriminate herself.
Jenna pulled out the pack of stickers that were tucked into the journal. They were cute little thought bubbles with reminders like doc appointment, empty dishwasher, and caffeinate.
“I feel like stickers are cheating,” Jenna said.
“Bite your tongue, woman. Stickers are everything.” So were pens. And cute paper clips. And sticky notes . . .
“Come on. There’re far more important things than stickers.”
“Like?” Piper asked.
“Like food.”
“Okay, you’ve got me there.”
“And sex,” Jenna said. “And that should go above food, actually.”
“I’m going to take your word on that since it’s been a while.”
“Well, whose fault is that?” Jenna leaned in, trying to get a peek. “What’s today’s entry?”
“A list for figuring out what’s next on fixing up the property.” Piper and her siblings had inherited from their grandparents a house and some cottages on Rainbow Lake. “It still needs a lot of work. I’m in way over my head.”
“I know.” Jenna’s smile faded. “I hate that you’re going to sell and move away from Wildstone.”
Wildstone, California, was Piper’s hometown. Sort of. She’d moved here at age thirteen with her two younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, to be raised by their grandparents. But in the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.
And hers could finally start.


New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website,, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Connect with Jill

Facebook: @JillShalvis
Twitter: @JillShalvis

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