Welcome to our stop on Amanda Cowen's Between Friends blog tour! I have to admit, I'm a little nervous. It's not often that we talk about books on here that delve so openly into mature content like this one does. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing because I loved this book and have loved others like it before. It's just that I'm never quite sure of the age range of my audience, therefore I want to make sure that everyone knows beforehand that....
THIS BOOK CONTAINS MATURE CONTENT.
Now, it by no means takes over the book, but it is still there, regardless. So if anybody has a serious problem with that, then this is probably not the book for you. If, however, that's perfectly fine with you, keep on reading because I'm about to tell you exactly why you SHOULD read this book.
Between Friends by Amanda Cowen
The only way to have a friend is to be one… especially between the sheets…
When neurotically challenged and unlucky in love Megan Daniels, is propositioned by her life-long friend Ben Romano with a coin toss (heads, they sleep together, tails they don’t) the night before they are about to attend a destination wedding, she drunkenly accepts his challenge. But when Megan wakes up the next morning with a bad hang-over and Ben in her bed, she is more than mortified. It isn’t until the tropical heat begins to ignite emotions Megan never ever believed she could possibly have, that she starts to question if risking their friendship is the answer to finding true love.
Her next Contemporary Romance/New Adult Fiction novel PERFECT SENSE will be available in Winter 2014.
I absolutely adore how the story is introduced. The first few pages are crucial for me because I start to make snap judgments off of them over whether or not I'm going to keep reading. And this book did not disappoint. I love that it started off with a memory from Megan's past before gliding right back into the present. Not only was the memory so much fun, but it was the perfect characterization right off the bat of the type of relationship Megan and Ben had. I can't imagine a better way to kick off this book.
After reading the blurb, I was very nervous that the way them having sex was introduced would be weird, but it wasn't even a little bit. There was just enough attention paid to the fact that they were drunk, which I liked. I've always thought that too much is redundant and shows the author's inability to really get into the character's head in the moment, but too little feels like a very crucial point has just been passed over. This scene, however, seemed very playful, making it feel more believable, and it ended at exactly the right moment, racking up some bonus points in my book.
Another thing I loved about this book is how easily it made me laugh at the little things. Especially in the beginning of the book, some of Megan's thoughts were hilarious and Ben's reactions (my favorite being in the airport) were absolutely priceless.
Overall, my general feeling for this book was that it started out fantastic, but then around halfway in, it started declining into the realm of just pretty good. A good example of this is how I feel about Megan. I thought that she was a really cool person with an impressive drive and a great sense of humor for most of the book, but as the story progressed along, I started not liking her as much. For starters, her mind just seems to go to weird places at the most inopportune of times. I'm sorry, but I just don't feel like the middle of sex with someone is the right time to recount a bunch of your childhood memories with that person. Please, save that for another moment.
Also, her quick, guiltless jumps to Steven seemed really odd to me. Of course, she acknowledged what she was doing a little bit, but it really seemed like she was going back and forth way too much, especially after she just met him. I was also a little skeptical of how oblivious she was as to why Ben was acting the way he was during that whole period. Megan seemed like a very intelligent woman, so I don't see how she was able to dismiss the whole thing as easily as she did. I could tell that I would like Ben from the very beginning, so Megan's actions here, right after she had been unwittingly leading him on, were really painful to read.
Actually, every time I saw Ben sad or vulnerable, I felt a little pang in my chest. Yes, he made some incredibly stupid mistakes, and I often found myself swearing at him profusely in my head, but I still wanted him to be happy. What I probably liked the most about him was that usually, although not always, he wasn't willing to just let things go. I always get upset when I'm reading a book and two characters fight, then stalk off and don't speak to each other for a very long time. I'm always screaming at them in my head to just talk and try to work things out, but instead they just simmer when I, from the outside, can usually see how things can be worked out. For the most part, though, this doesn't happen in Between Friends, and I have Ben to thank for that by always storming back in and saying what he thinks. Then I can let go a huge sigh of relief and get back to reading without wanting to shake the characters around until their brains start to work again.
I will admit that this book was very cliché, but it's a light contemporary romance for crying out loud. That genre is the chick flick of literature. You don't go into it expecting to have your mind blown with the most unbelievable of plot twists, you go into it because you want something fun to read! And this book was fun, so I'd say it was a mission accomplished! The only times when I felt like there was a little too much "chick flick" were when the girls were talking about the wedding planning, or pretty much whenever Stephanie opened her mouth. It was no surprise that I didn't end up liking her, and while I understand why she was characterized the way she was, sometimes it just got a little overwhelming.
And in the vein of this being a "fun" book, I would like to mention that sometimes the writing style didn't really seem like it fit. There was a very distinct lack of contractions used in both dialogue and regular text, so the prose always read as very formal. I never would have described Between Friends as extremely formal, so most of the time it just felt odd.
My favorite part of the book, though, was when Ben brought out the margaritas. It was too much, I just had to put the book down. He was SO precious, and that moment couldn't have been more fitting. I was so happy once Megan explained the significance of the drink, and that's when I knew that I was 100% all in when it came to the two of them. And while I understand that very few of you reading this right now have any idea of what I'm talking about (and if you do, I like you already), but I'm including it anyway because all of my favorite books have something like that "margarita moment," and if anything completely sold me on the story, it was that.
And my favorite spoiler-free quote comes the very beginning of the book, describing the first ever interaction between Megan and Ben when they met at a party in ninth grade:
"What are you looking at?" Were the first five words Ben had ever said to me.
I had spent the last few minutes watching him meticulously sort out the red M&M's from a candy dish on top of the kitchen table before he shoved a pile of them in his mouth. "Do the red ones actually taste different, or are you just a weirdo?"
"What do you think?" he asked as a goofy grin spread across his face.
"I'm thinking weirdo." I laughed and tossed my long brown hair to the side.
Ben tapped his fingers on the table and bit his lower lip. "I'm thinking you're wrong."
"I think not." I snapped back, hearing all our mutual friends snicker from behind me.
He quickly stuck his hand back into the dish and pulled out a single brown and red M&M. "Well then. I guess you'll have to see for yourself."
I rolled my eyes and let Ben place one brown M&M into the palm of my hand. I popped it in my mouth, tasting its milk-chocolate flavour. When I was done, he proceeded to present me with the red one. His smug smile encouraged me to crunch down on the deal breaker with hopes of disproving his theory. But as the red candy coated texture began to melt in my mouth, I hated to admit it, but he was right.
"Well?" Ben asked with a playful glimmer in his eyes.
I nodded in defeat.
Ben triumphantly fist pumped the air. "Well, you passed the test. I guess that means we are going to get along just fine."
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