Review by Veronica

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Series Name: Sunrise Cove, # 2 

When he met her gaze in the rearview mirror, her piercing whiskey-colored eyes were as cold as ice, and she had a tool in her hand that he recognized as one you’d see on an infomercial that promised to break a car window in case of emergencies.

Tae Holmes was still badass, and for some reason that made him smile. “Been a long time, Rebel”

The Friendship Pact is a small-town romance about second chances and family secrets.

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.

I have to admit this isn’t my favourite Jill Shalvis book. I don’t know what it was about this book that didn’t click with me. It’s a well-written romance with authentic characters who have a lot of depth and a story that checks off all those romance boxes. I loved the first book in this series; I couldn’t put it down. So I was excited to read this book but struggled to connect with the story and its characters. I firmly believe every book has its readers; maybe this book was just not meant for me. Even though I didn’t click with this book, I will talk about some things that were well done in this story. 

Firstly, Jill knows how to write an enjoyable small-town romance. She can combine those romantic story elements and create something engaging for her readers. This book has got a lot going for it. There is a unforgettable meet-cute, spicy moments, an interesting family secret, an adorable dog, and smart and witty dialogue. The story has enough drama, mystery, and heart to capture and keep the reader’s attention. I enjoyed the family dynamics in this book. Tae and April have this very close mother-daughter relationship that reminds me of the relationship between Rory and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls. There is this sense that it’s always them against the world, but things are changing for them now. Tae and April are in a better situation financially and don’t have to depend on each so much to survive. They no longer have to live in constant unease about their future. Now they are trying to figure out what their relationship should look like now. There is also this secret that exists between them about Tae’s father. April refuses to talk about what happened, so Tae takes it upon herself to discover the truth. I did enjoy the mystery around Tae’s father. It was intriguing, and I found myself trying to figure out what happened between April and Tae’s father. Did he really die, abandon his family, or did something else happen? 

Tae is a more prickly character. She had a rough childhood, shaping her as an adult. She is smart, driven, and loves her mom and her job. She also has plenty of walls she had built around her heart that make it hard for her to connect with anyone on a deeper level. I had a hard time connecting with her. Not because her character is well written, but I didn’t feel that need to engage with her as a character. I didn’t enjoy her prickly, constantly pushing people away personality. Now I did like Riggs; he has this interesting, laid-back, fun personality while, at the same time, there is a more guarded side to him. I wanted to peel back those layers and see what was happening in his head. I loved watching him reconnect and slowly repair his relationship with his brother. It was sweet watching these two gruff brothers talk about their feelings. 

The romance in this book is all about second chances. Tae and Riggs started out as friends in high school that had turned into something. But Tae panicked, pulled back, and decided to cut Riggs out of her life. At the beginning of this book, Tae and Riggs reconnect, and it’s obvious that the chemistry between them is still strong. But this time, Riggs pulls back and says they should just be friends. We all know that this platonic friendship isn’t going to last long. There is plenty of heated looks and sexual innuendos that are exchanged between these two. Their romance is ok for me. There are plenty of moments when you think their relationship is going to move forward, but someone changes their mind or panics, and things come to a standstill. There is just a lot of stopping and going in their relationship, which can sometimes be jarring. 

This is a good solid contemporary romance read, but it wasn’t for me.