ALMOST JUST FRIENDS – Jill Shalvis
A Perfect 10
A Wildstone Novel
William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0062897800
January 21, 2020
Contemporary Romance

Wildstone, California – Present Day

It's Piper Manning's birthday, and though she isn't into celebrating birthdays, her friends entice her to a local bar to celebrate, where she promises to hook up with a man—any man—just to mark it off the list she keeps of “things to do.” Piper encounters a stranger to town, who is amused by her list. She stalks away, angry at him and herself for finding herself attracted to him. Later that night, during a storm, she heads over to her neighbor's house to check on him—and runs into the stranger. He's Cam Reid, the son of her neighbor. The sparks that flew between them in the bar are soon intensified. Cam is only visiting, but will Piper find a way to fulfill one of her to-do lists wishes, which is to have great sex with a man? Meanwhile, Piper's siblings, Gavin and Winnie, show up unexpectedly. Suddenly, Piper's life is in an upheaval, and she's also lusting after her neighbor's son!

Cam is visiting his father for a month while dealing with the guilt of losing his only brother, Rowan. Cam was there when his brother died, and it was then that he learned Winnie was pregnant with Rowan's baby. Cam plans to check in with Winnie to make sure she's okay. She informs him that Piper doesn't yet know she's pregnant. How will Piper react? Meanwhile, Gavin recently got out of drug rehab. He's hoping to stay away from the drugs, but he will need his family's support. But how can he when he doesn't even tell his oldest sister about his problem?

Piper hasn't had the heart to tell her brother and sister that she is planning to sell the home they're living in to move to Colorado to take a medic course. The siblings were orphaned at a young age and grew up in the home with their grandparents, both now deceased. What she doesn't know is that Winnie and Gavin want to turn the property into a Bed & Breakfast. As Piper grapples how to tell them, she turns to Cam, who has become a friend and confidant to her. Yes, she is still attracted to him, but it's become more than wanting a fling with him. Cam is a listener, and Piper needs someone to talk to. But there is still that spark of attraction between them, and it's only a matter of time before the sparks burst into something more.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS is labeled a “women's fiction” novel, but at the heart of it is the growing romance between Piper and Cam. Both have had to rely on no one except themselves. But they have others who need them. Piper and Cam spend time talking to each other about their worries and their dreams, yet one thing that hovers over them is that he knows about Winnie's baby—and Piper doesn't—for a good part of this tale. Piper thinks Rowan was a wayward young man, and if she discovers he and Winnie made a child together, how will it affect her perception of a man gone too soon?

Filled with emotion and heartfelt love, ALMOST JUST FRIENDS is that feelgood read you won't want to put down once you open the book. This is why I'm awarding it a Perfect 10 . It's a tale of hope and happiness just when you think there can never be any. Don't miss this beautiful and endearing story.

Patti Fischer