The last thing Jenna Davis wants right now is more drama. Still reeling from the untimely loss of one of her four closest friends, she intends to bury herself in work and forget the hurt. But when her other friends announce they're planning an extended stay on the island, Jenna needs to come up with a plan–and fast–to cover up the little white lie she's been telling them.
Zach Taylor is dealing with a mess of his own. A sinkhole in front of his shop is keeping customers away and putting his livelihood in jeopardy. So when his best friend’s older sister—the one he’s been secretly crushing on since the day they met—offers to loan Zach some shop space if he’ll do her favor, he’s all ears. The request? Pretend to be her boyfriend until her friends head back home.
The stage is set, the charade about to begin. Can these two long time friends keep things purely platonic while they fool the others? Or will Zach and Jenna stop fooling themselves and finally let love in?
Fun beach read
This book hits a bunch of my favorite tropes – best friend’s sister AND fake relationship AND best friends to lovers. It’s also super cute and a perfect summer read. It’s the second in the Paradise Key series, but works fine as a standalone. Though, if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up having to read all of them once you’ve read one!
“'Him’ was the boyfriend she’d raved about to the girls in an online group chat just before Christmas, the one who had rescued her from depression after her last relationship had imploded. The one who was super sweet, romantic, loved to spoil her rotten, and…
Jenna runs a tourist shop on the beautiful island of Paradise Key. She likes her life neat and orderly, especially after an awful breakup with an abusive boyfriend, and her life consists of running her shop and spending time with her younger brother and his family, who still live on the island. Her best friends all live in different cities, with great careers and exciting lives full of success. So it’s understandable when she lies and says she has a great new boyfriend, who’s practically perfect in every way. When tragedy strikes and her friends converge on Paradise Key and expect to meet him, well, that’s a complication she wasn’t expecting. So she strikes a bargain with her younger brother’s best friend – he can use part of her shop space while the road outside his store is getting fixed if he agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend. Unlike Jenna, Zach is much more go with the flow, and he sees this as the opportunity to finally move beyond the friend zone with the women he’s had a crush on for years. But what starts with one lie suddenly blooms into more, their friendship, let alone a relationship, is at stake.
“Yes, being able to enjoy his company without worrying people would misinterpret their behavior sure would be nice. Funny how their little arrangement had gone from pretending to be dating for one group’s sake, and now pretending not to be for another.”
Even without the lies, the path to their relationship isn’t smooth. Jenna is a natural caregiver who loves helping out the people around her, whether it’s helping her grandma stay busy by opening a cafe in her newly expanded shop or by babysitting for her friends and relatives. Zach knows firsthand how bad giving and giving and giving can be for the person doing it – his parents got divorced because his mom got tired of putting her hopes and dreams second to everyone else’s. Zach worries Jenna’s on the same path, to the point where he’s the one sacrificing things to help her.
As for other things I liked, I loved the secondary characters. Jenna’s family and her friend Ivy were hilarious, and I though the group of friends was also well represented. When she eventually comes clean to her friends, they’re extremely understanding and they just basically laugh it off. Also, though this is a closed door romance (all four of the novels in this series are, in fact), the sexual tension between the two was quite well done.
Overall, this is a delightfully fun read. It’s a delightful amalgamation of some of my favorite tropes, and I’d recommend it as a funny beach read!
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.