Reviewed for Wit and Sin
After the death of her parents Piper Manning was charged with raising her siblings when she was still a child herself. Now her siblings are grown and Piper is an EMT. She has struggled and works herself nearly to the ground, but there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. If she can fix up the lake house and the cabins her grandparents left Piper and her siblings, she’ll finally be able to sell and go to school to become a physician’s assistant. Then her siblings return to Wildstone, each carrying secrets that will knock Piper off her stride. If she wasn’t already reeling, the arrival of Camden Reid would do so. After meeting on a dark and stormy night, the super sexy DEA agent and Coast Guard reservist becomes the first person Piper has been able to lean on in forever and that scares the heck out of her. Piper can’t afford to lose her heart, not when she’s finally going to leave Wildstone. But sometimes fate – and family – have other plans…
Love, loss, and finding your way home are at the heart of Almost Just Friends. Jill Shalvis is a master at blending the light and the dark, at finding humor in the everyday even as her characters struggle to heal and find their place in the town they call home.
Piper is the kind of heroine who is easy to root for. She has spent her whole life taking care of others and the weight of the responsibility she carries is nearly crushing her. I loved her strength, her resilience, and the fact that she wasn’t perfect, even though she sacrifices so much for others. She can be cranky, she can sometimes try to put her siblings on the path she thinks they should be on rather than listen to what they want, but given what she’s been through it’s absolutely understandable. She’s carried a heavy load her whole life and I loved watching others step up to help her, especially Cam. He’s hot, protective, caring, and is dealing with the grief of losing his brother when he meets Piper. Cam also knew responsibility from far too young an age, so he gets Piper. He doesn’t critique or try to change her eccentricities, but appreciates her for all that she is and steps up to the plate to help, which I loved.
While Piper and Cam are the heart of Almost Just Friends, Piper’s siblings are every bit as important to the story. Winnie, Piper’s youngest sibling, has always been kind of a wild child. But life has lately thrown her a curveball and she’s determined to grow up and become the person she’s meant to be. Her path isn’t what her sister would have chosen for her, but I enjoyed seeing Winnie step up and work to shape her own destiny. And Gavin, Piper’s troubled brother, probably had my favorite storyline of the whole book. Gavin is a recovering addict who has come home to make amends and forge a new life. A life that – if he has his way – will include the first and only man he’s ever loved. Gavin owns his mistakes, faces his demons head-on, and is determined to prove he has matured and is in control of his life. I loved watching Gavin come into his own and his story made me melt at times.
Almost Just Friends is the fourth book in the Wildstone series but it can easily be read as a standalone. Family is front and center in every book in the series and is as important as the romance. I loved watching the Manning siblings come together, was invested in Cam and his father healing from their losses and becoming a unit with Piper, Winnie, and Gavin. No relationship in this story is perfect, but that’s what makes this book a perfectly entertaining read. It’s a messy, heartwarming, engaging story of growing up, moving on, and love in all its forms and I couldn’t have been more entertained.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.