I’m good at hiding my feelings.
Having to pretend I’m not in love with my best friend?
Pfft. That’s child’s play.
Here’s how I do it: I avert my eyes when he walks out of his room, shirtless in all his toned glory. I squash the butterflies that fill my stomach every time he slowly unfurls a dimpled smile. And, most importantly, I keep an arsenal of “personal massagers” in my bedside drawer. Wink.
Not to brag, but Aiden Smith isn’t hard to resist if you’ve been doing it for as long as I have. In fact, we might have continued as best friends forever if not for the fact that I needed him to play the part of my fake boyfriend.
Date me like you mean it, I told him. Nudge nudge. C’mon, just go along with a little lie, help a girl out, and then we can all return to life as we know it.
Except he veered from the plan.
He crossed the line.
Flirting with me when no one else was around? Pinning me down and kissing me like that? Okay, how exactly is taking off my bra part of the ruse, Aiden?!
I’d ask him about it if I could, but well…things got ugly and we’re not best friends anymore.
In fact, we’re the exact opposite.
Now, I have to play nice even though I want to crush his heart in the palm of my hand.
Pretending not to love Aiden was the easy part.
Pretending not to hate him?
Well…I might need a little more practice.
I had high hopes for this book because To Have And To Hate was my first R.S. Grey book and I loved it. This seemed like a sure thing since I’m a sucker for a good friends-to-lovers but I was disappointed. It’s not awful, I finished it, but this was an enormous let down after THATH.
The story starts out well. Maddie and Aiden meet at her sister’s wedding, soon become roommates and quickly become best friends. She’s secretly pining for Aiden but won’t tell him, even though it’s readily apparent he has feelings for her. The first half of the story is told from Maddie’s POV and the second is from Aiden’s, which is okay but it would have been nice to switch throughout. Having both sides of the story the entire time instead of half the story half the time would tell the story better.
Crunch time comes when Maddie convinces Aiden to be her fake boyfriend on a couples trip for her best friend’s bachelor/bachelorette weekend. They kiss and it’s amazing. Maddie’s friend spills the tea, revealing in front of everyone that Maddie’s had a crush on Aiden since forever so she’s thrilled they finally got together.
Maddie’s understandably embarrassed but instead of owning it, she completely denies it, to Aiden’s obvious disappointment. When he gets an offer for his dream job across the country, she has multiple opportunities to be honest about her feelings and it’s obvious he wants to know how she feels before he makes a decision about this job, but she insists they’re just friends.
That’s when the book started to lose me. If this were a YA book, that’s one thing but all the lying and denials when these characters are supposed to be adults is just lame. It doesn’t work for me. We then find out that Maddie was really angry at Aiden for leaving but instead of having any kind of discussion, she simply cuts him out of her life and ignores him, leaving him to wonder what happened. That’s when Aiden admits he took the job in New York because he couldn’t stay in Austin, being Maddie’s roommate anymore, because his unrequited love for her was too much to bear.
Gah! So many things wrong here. To be fair, Aiden could’ve told Maddie how he felt instead of simply asking her. But the dialogue and the way things go down here kind of puts it all on her and makes it seem like he was about to but her vehement “we’re just friends” speeches stopped him in his tracks. She manages to avoid him for an entire year and then drums up a new fake boyfriend simply to hurt Aiden so now it’s an enemies-to-lovers story. I really liked Maddie initially but my patience was worn out by this point.
A fake relationship is one thing but serial fake relationships, especially ones designed solely to hurt the person she insists she loves? That’s not okay, girl. Maddie’s a liar and kind of mean at this point but Aiden still wants her and even once they get together, all she does is whine and cry that he travels too much for work until he quits his dream job as an international correspondent for the New York Times and moves back to Austin to be a freelancer. None of this works for me.
By the end of the story, I’m positive Aiden can do better because Maddie is too immature and selfish to deserve him or anyone else. She needs to work on herself a lot. She could’ve moved closer to him or they could have compromised and moved somewhere new together where they could both have jobs they love but him giving up everything for someone so emotionally greedy and self-absorbed was kind of disappointing. I love a good HEA but in this case, I wanted it to come with her changing for the better and that’s not what we get. There’s plenty of comic relief, which I adore, but it’s not enough to salvage an MC you want to love, but just can’t really like.