I was one of the readers who wasn’t fond of the first cover for Book 1 in this series, The Hook Up, so I’m oh so thrilled that Ms. Callihan decided to make a change that does these young footballers the justice they deserve!
We met Gray Grayson in The Hook Up. He’s teammate and best bud to Drew. He’s an epic manwhore — there’s no shame in his game. He’s young, smart (a math geek), handsome and headed to the NFL, why should he settle down with one girl like his buddy Drew?
When Drew gets hurt, Gray, being the loyal friend that he is loans Drew his truck so he can get around with a casted leg. That leaves 6’6″ 200+ lbs borrowing his agent’s daughter, Ivy’s, pink Fiat while she’s away in London. Having never met each other, Ivy and Gray start bantering via a text about the car which leads to months of texts and a close friendship builds. I loved Gray and Ivy’s banter. Unlike Drew and Anna’s relationship which heats up pretty early on, Gray and Ivy’s relationship is a slow burn from friendship to love.
Ivy isn’t like the other girls Gray usually cavorts with. She’s not a cheerleader or football groupie. She’s quick-witted, funny and smart. And doesn’t swoon at Gray. She’s lived her life around athletes with a dad who is a retired athlete and sports agent. She’s not naive to the star athlete lifestyle and manwhore ways that come with. It’s what destroyed her parent’s relationship.The fact that Ivy is also 6 feet tall and a bit awkward endeared me to her even more. At 22, Ivy is at a crossroads. She comes home undecided on what she wants to do next — go back to the UK to run her mother’s bakery business or…flip the script and do something totally unexpected with her life.
When Ivy comes home things gradually change from friendly banter to more between Ivy and Gray. This is unsettling to Ivy, yet Gray has no problem with his growing feelings. But he’s willing to follow Ivy’s lead. There’s a lot of almost moments between Ivy and Gray as they figure out that they belong together. The Friend Zone is wrought with the perfectly tense “OMG, I’m in love with my best friend. I want to rip his/her clothes off and have my way” moments that I love about a friends-to-lovers story.
I loved the story; these characters are among my fave NA peeps. So it pains me to say this — this just wasn’t the 5-star read I was expecting. Perhaps I went in wanting another Drew and Anna whereas Gray and Ivy were their own special awesomesauce, I don’t know exactly what it was honestly. It just didn’t wow me.
That said, I still enjoyed The Friend Zone A LOT. It’s sexy and sweet and had me all in my feels toward the end. I look forward to more from this group of teammates and friends to come.