Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote

Synopsis:

Leaving home to go to university is an exciting phase in anyone’s life. One that’s full of new places, new friends, and new experiences. But Lewis is not prepared for the sudden and intense crush he develops on his out-and-proud flatmate, Max—given that Lewis had always assumed he was straight. Max starts dating another guy, and Lewis’s jealousy at seeing them together forces him to confront his growing attraction.

When Max’s relationship goes awry, Lewis is the one to comfort him and one thing leads to another. But after a night together, Lewis is devastated that Max wants to go back to being just friends. Lewis tries his best to move on and their friendship survives, but the feelings he has for Max don’t go away. He faces other challenges as he deals with coming out to his parents and needs Max’s support more than ever. But Lewis isn’t the only one who’s conflicted. When Max finally admits he cares for Lewis too, Lewis must decide whether he dares risk his heart again on being more than just friends.

Two young, naked white men are in bed. The dark haired one is on his stomach and the blond is on his right side next to the brunet. The blond is about to kiss the brunet's shoulder. Title: Not Just Friends. Author: Jay Northcote.

At first, I thought the wonderful humour might earn this book a better rating than any of the author’s previous works have got from me. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

The story relies solely on the dreaded miscommunication trope. It’s only vaguely understandable because both Lewis and Max are still young, unsure, and in the process of discovering themselves. It didn’t help that the book I read right after handled the same trope much better without ever tripping over the insta love Not Just Friends romance suffers from.

The friendship and physical attraction set up was done well, but I didn’t think there was enough to show where that attraction turned into love. In the second half of the book it felt like the author was repeating a mantra to convince both Lewis and the reader that he was in fact in love with his roommate.

The final sex scenes were wholly unnecessary and an inorganic part of the story. It felt like the author was under an obligation to reward her readers patience with the penetrative sex and had to include the scene despite the story being over.

Aside from her humour, the descriptions of Bristol continue to be Northcote’s strength.

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