Owen Burnett planned on a quiet, easygoing Christmas, hanging out with his best friend and neighbor, Gabby Michaelson. So when his mom pressures him to come home, he tells a little white lie...that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But after his family shows up unexpectedly, Owen pulls the best friend card and asks Gabby to play his fake girlfriend.
Gabby’s been hopelessly in love with her best friend for what feels like forever, but playing Owen's "fake" girlfriend when the entire boisterous Burnett clan visits is easier said than done. The more she tries to deny the attraction between them, the more obvious their chemistry becomes. But even though she's not the only one feeling it, putting their friendship on the line is a risk she can’t take.
Each book in the Kendrick Place series is a STANDALONE story that can be enjoyed out of order.
* More than Friends
* The Bad Boy Next Door
* Hate to Love Him
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
More Than Friends
A Kendrick Place Novel
By Jody Holford, Stacy Abrams, Alexa May
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Jody Holford
All rights reserved.
It'll be fine. Just one friend asking another friend for a favor. The joyful clang of Christmas music was easy to hear through the closed door. Owen Burnett clenched his jaw. If things went as planned, he'd have to convince Gabby to swap out her bubble-gum pop for something more sedate. A little bit of Bing crooning "White Christmas" seemed like a good compromise.
If she agreed. Owen was mostly confident his best friend would give him exactly what he needed.
But just in case, he'd brought pizza.
In his socked feet, said pizza in hand, he took a deep breath and let himself into her apartment, kitty-corner to his, as he had a hundred times before.
"In here. Do I smell pizza?"
"Jesus, you have a bionic nose," he said over the thumping mash-up of different singers. Making his way down the hall, he arched a brow at the several boxes she had stacked in the living room, all marked "Christmas." None were unpacked.
Gabriella stood at her easel, her hand swirling colors on a palette. The canvas was a blur of dark shades blending into one another. Owen loved watching her work take shape and turn from nothing into something extraordinary. As someone who could draw only stick figures, it fascinated him. When she painted, drew, or doodled, her face would take on the emotion of whatever she was creating. And sometimes, like now, Owen got lost watching her.
A long strand of dark hair danced in front of her eyes despite her efforts to blow it out of the way. There was too much of it to ever stay tucked back completely. She'd obviously changed out of her day clothes — as an administrative assistant at a local community college, she regularly wore business casual. She hated every minute in them, and Owen couldn't blame her, as wearing what he wanted was a perk of his own job.
She smiled at him over her shoulder. "Knew it. Give me a sec, I'm starving. If I have a bionic nose, you have a sixth sense for when I need food."
Owen laughed and set the still-hot pizza on the coffee table. "Pretty easy when the answer to that is 'always.'"
He turned the music down, ignoring her protest, and went to get a couple of beers from her fridge. Napkins and beers in hand, he realized the tightness in his chest was nerves — something he never felt around Gabby. She'll be fine with it. She'll probably think it'll be fun. Of the two of them, she was definitely the more adventurous one. Still, he gave himself an extra moment to take a few deep breaths.
She'd settled into the corner of her couch, a slice of pizza already in hand when he walked back in. Laughing, he passed her one of the beers.
"Don't wait for me." She grinned and took a huge bite.
Owen sat beside her and pulled a slice for himself. His glasses fogged briefly when he took a bite, making Gabby smile. The corners of her eyes crinkled when she smiled at him like that, making it impossible not to grin along with her. Her easy-going, almost-always-happy personality was just one of the things that made her a great friend.
He gestured to the pile of boxes. "I heard you dragging this stuff down the hall first thing this morning. Thought for sure you'd have all your decorations up by now."
In reality, he thought the contents of the boxes would have been everywhere. He figured she'd have dug in, gotten a good start, and then been distracted. She was often hit with bursts of inspiration in the middle of something and everything else around her tended to fall away. She had no trouble working in a cluttered space.
"Maybe I was waiting for you," she said around a bite of pizza. Then she laughed at her own joke.
She knew full-well he thought Christmas was a time for overspending and chaos, how he wasn't a fan of the crowds tripling and even the prices of everyday items shooting up. Gabby enjoyed teasing him about what she called his "Scrooginess." He, in turn, liked to point out she was a cross between Pollyanna and Julie Andrews.
Gabby took a long swallow of her beer, then wiped her lips with her napkin. Owen watched her, paying more attention to her features than he had in the past — particularly her lips. His mother would love her. She was the kind of girl his family dreamed about him settling down with — the kind he couldn't have imagined being with, other than as a friend. Best friend. That's exactly what Gabriella Michaelson had become over the past couple years. Small moments and conversations had turned into shared pizzas while watching the Celtics. The conversations got longer and the time they spent together increased to the point where they spent more time with each other than without. They'd become part of each other's routine.
Other than work and sleep, they did most things together. Sometimes their friend Brady — who also lived in the building — joined them, but whether he did or didn't, Owen and Gabby were comfortable. Which makes this not a big deal.
"Do I have pizza on my face?" When she touched her cheeks, checking for sauce, he saw the dried paint on her nails and fingers.
Shoot. He'd been staring. Owen laughed. "No. Just paint, as usual. What are you working on?"
Gabby pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, then looked down. She spoke low, a sign that she was nervous and had something important to share. "I got asked to do an exclusive showing in the New Year. Five pieces at the Carter Klein Gallery."
"Gabby! Wow!" He set his beer down and, beaming at her, grabbed her by both arms to yank her close. The Klein Gallery was a big deal, and to be asked to do an exclusive was even bigger. She more than deserved the break. "This is awesome!"
She gave a carefree laugh and hugged him back, her chin resting on his shoulder. He'd hugged her before, but he couldn't remember ever being so aware of the sweet smell of her hair or the way her body fit against his. It felt comfortable. Natural. His family wouldn't question the relationship if it were this easy to hold her. And why wouldn't it be? She was Gabby. His Gabby. She'd have no issue with what he was about to propose.
He winced at the word "propose." If his mother had her way, he'd be down on one knee before his thirtieth birthday in January, which was why he hoped his idea would hold her off. She'd see he and Gabby were great together. She didn't have to know they were only buddies — too different to be anything else to each other. Gabby would probably slap him for even thinking otherwise.
She sat back, shifting so she was on her own cushion again. "Thanks. I'm pretty pumped, but it's short notice. They called around nine, right after I'd brought the boxes up, and I couldn't wait to get started," she said, gesturing to the canvas.
Her smooth skin was tinged pink with the excitement of her news, and her brown eyes literally sparkled. When he'd met her a couple years ago, he'd thought she was attractive in a disheveled kind of way, but hadn't paid close attention. He'd had Vanessa-vision; a rare condition where he believed he'd found the right girl based on her perfectly coifed hair and immaculate style. It had taken him far too long to figure out how imperfect their relationship was.
Gabby tilted her head and smacked his shoulder, snapping him out of his own thoughts. "Okay, for real, why are you looking at me like that?"
Unaccustomed to the flurry of nerves playing in his stomach, he picked at the label on his beer bottle and kept his voice nonchalant. "I'm actually glad you haven't gone Christmas-crazy yet." Owen chuckled when she scoffed.
Grabbing another piece of pizza, Gabby leaned back on her side of the couch. "Really? Did you have a change of heart, Mr. Grinch? You wanna get all Christmassy with me?" She fluttered her lashes exaggeratedly.
Owen's stomach tightened. He set his beer down harder than he meant to, making foam rise up a bit. Pulling it back, he sipped off the top, set it down more carefully, and leaned forward, his forearms resting on his knees as he met her gaze. "Yes, actually."
Gabby laughed and continued to chew her food. She stretched her feet out, crossing her ankles on the coffee table. His eyes wandered the length of her legs to her ankles. Had he ever noticed how delicate her bones were? Like a dancer's. What's wrong with you? Focus. Just ask her.
Her brows furrowed as she looked down at his hand. "What's the catch? You hate Christmas — which doesn't get you out of buying me a gift, by the way."
He groaned, realizing he'd need to hit the mall for more presents — not Gabby's; he'd had that for a while. It was too late to shop online and be sure of delivery. He'd probably need to go to the grocery store as well. He didn't have enough food for six people for the holidays. Owen stood abruptly and bumped the table, jostling Gabby's legs. She startled and stared up at him.
"What the hell, O?"
Owen ran his hands through his hair. He needed a trim, but his barber was on vacation. No way was he trying someone new. Better long than hacked off. He paced a little, then pulled off his black-framed glasses, using the act of cleaning them on the tail end of his button up shirt to align the words properly in his head. It was a simple proposal. No — proposition.
When he looked back at Gabby, she'd put her pizza down and watched him with a wariness he didn't often see in her eyes. "What's going on?"
"My parents are coming for Christmas. Actually, my parents and my sister." He took a deep breath. The pressure in his chest returned. "And my aunt."
Gabby's eyes went wide right before she burst into laughter. She wrapped her arms around herself and laughed until he saw tears gathering at the corner of her eyes.
Owen glared and put his hands on his hips. Of course she'd find humor in this. "Shut it. It's not funny." It was true — there was nothing funny about the thought of his family coming to stay with him for a week or what his mom had shared with him, but Gabby's laugh always got to him, and a smile crept through. Dammit, she had the best laugh. He picked up one of her funky throw pillows from a chair and tossed it at her head.
Gabby ducked and the pillow fell to the floor. She shook her head and wiped her hands on a napkin. "Not funny? Which part isn't funny? The part where you, King of Clean — Master of Order — has to share your apartment? With four other people. Or is it the fact that you hate Christmas and tried to get out of it by telling them you had to work — which I told you would backfire — and now you're hosting it. Sorry, O. This is more than funny. It is serves-you-right hilarious!"
Hands back on his hips, he continued to glower at her, but she only laughed harder, like she was immune to him.
"Stop. Laughing. I don't hate Christmas. Well, maybe the malls. My mom doesn't know the meaning of 'small get-together' or 'family only.' I didn't want another Christmas like the last one. People I don't know everywhere. They played Charades, Gabby. The holiday version."
She nodded as she tried not to giggle, her teeth digging into her bottom lip. As always, it was bare — she rarely wore makeup. Not that she needed it. She was striking without. How had he never noticed how full her lips were? Drawing further attention to them, she pressed her lips together and scrubbed her hands over her face. Her muffled laughter came in small bursts. When Owen growled and stalked to the window, nearly tripping over two of the boxes, she jumped off the couch and launched herself at him.
Her arms wrapped around him from behind, her cheek pressing into his back. "I'm sorry. It has elements of funny, but I can see why you wouldn't think so." She took a few deep breaths, then let them out. "Okay. We've got this. You can borrow a few of my decorations, and when they're not looking you can sneak over here to escape the noise and mess. I'll even try to tidy up."
She moved around so she stood in front of him. With her hand, she pushed at his shoulder playfully and gave him a sweet Gabby smile, her attempt to make peace.
He knew from the way her lips quivered she was still working to keep the laughter at bay, but she held strong. "When are they coming? I can't wait to meet them. I told you your mom wasn't going to deal well with you not going home for Christmas." Tucking her chin down, she walked past him and began cleaning their dinner mess.
The room was too warm. Owen looked at the window, the frost decorating the outside corners, and thought of opening it. A tree filled the window directly across from Gabby's in the neighboring building. She hated that her place didn't have a view. Which is what makes this a great idea. The apartment was really stuffy. Do it, already. "Yeah. About that. Remember when I said I told them I couldn't get away because of work?" He faced her, knowing he couldn't avoid her eyes when he asked.
Pizza box in hand, she nodded, her smile quieter. "Yeah?"
"My mom was pressing so hard and I was feeling guilty. So I ... I told her I'd finally met someone. The one. I told her I couldn't come home because I didn't want to leave at the most romantic time of the year. I thought she'd accept it and back off," Owen said. He looked down at the carpet, digging his toes into the fibers. His own apartment was wall-to-wall hardwood — which he knew Gabby coveted. She mentioned it every time they hung out at his place.
"Oh my God, Owen. You're an idiot," Gabby said.
His head snapped up and he started to argue, but since he still needed her, badly, he figured it was best to stay on her good side.
Besides, she was right. He was an idiot.
Time to go all in. "There's more."
Gabby's sweater started to slip off her shoulder and Owen's eyes followed, drawn to the spaghetti strap of the purple tank top underneath. Her shoulders rose and fell with her deep sigh.
"They're coming to meet her. That's why they're coming. They want to meet the woman I'm in love with, so in love that I can't make it home for Christmas this year." Last year had been such a gong show. On Christmas Eve his mother had invited every one of her theater students for an impromptu sing-along.
Gabby shook her head, her eyes still smiling, this time with empathy and warmth. "Ouch. So what're you going to do? You're not even dating anyone. Where are you going to come up with your dream girl before they get here?"
He held her gaze and watched the laughter slip from her eyes. She tilted her head, scrunching her brows as she started putting the unsaid pieces together one second at a time. Her eyes widened. Gabby gripped the pizza box so tight the cardboard creaked. She took a step back, bumping into a pile of Christmas ornaments and stumbling. Owen didn't catch the pizza box when it fell, but he managed to grip her arms and stop her from following it down.
She looked at the box, which had landed sideways but stayed closed, and then up at him. "Me? I'm supposed to be the girl you love? The girl?" Her voice was nearly a whisper, and though he thought he knew almost every one of her expressions, he couldn't decipher the one she wore now.
He gave a half laugh, steadying her, then stepping back. "Well, you're a girl. One who knows me better than anyone. And I love you, so it's not a total lie," he said.
Gabby's face contorted and turned an interesting shade of red. She picked up the pizza box with jerky movements. "You love me?" The squeak in her voice didn't match the fire in her eyes.
Owen shrugged. Again, he rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. Had they never said that to each other? Probably not. Some things weren't necessary to say between best friends. Right? "Well, yeah. We're best friends. Of course I love you. Don't you love me?"
He wasn't sure how her face could go from red to white so quickly. With a shrill laugh, she yelled, "No!"
Owens throat constricted. "Hey!" What the hell? We're best friends.
She piled the discarded and extra napkins on top of the box and began to babble as she walked to the kitchen. "No. I mean I don't love-love you, but of course I love you, like ... like a best friend. But me? I'm totally not your type and your parents will know that. They'll never believe you'd fall for someone like me. I'm messy and disorganized. I didn't even remember to do my taxes until the last minute, after you nagged me. Hell, then I just got you to do them for me. I don't even separate my lights and darks. I'm actually the opposite of everything you have on your list of what makes a perfect woman."
Owen stilled. The air had been sucked out of the room. "How do you know about my list? Were you on my computer?"
She turned to stare at him, her mouth hanging open a little. With a shaky laugh, she tossed the pizza box onto the counter. His fingers itched to pick up the scattered napkins, to pile them neatly.
Excerpted from More Than Friends by Jody Holford, Stacy Abrams, Alexa May. Copyright © 2016 Jody Holford. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought this was alright, could be a lot better. Not sure I would read more from this author.
I read the second book in this series first and the glimpses of Gabby and Owen made me want to read this book so much. Gabby and Owen are best friends and next door neighbors. When Owen tells his family that he can't come home for Christmas because he doesn't want to leave his new girlfriend, his family decides to come to him. Now he needs a girlfriend to introduce to his family so he convinces Gabby to fake a relationship. If she does this for him, he'll trade apartments with her, since his is the better space for an artist like her. Friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes because the foundation of the relationship is already so strong but the main characters just need to get over the "will we ruin our friendship by pursuing this" angst. I absolutely loved this story and the connection between Owen and Gabby. As best friends, it's interesting how these opposites can make their friendship work but as they cross the line into more, their differences just show how much they balance each other. I love this series and can't wait to move on to book three! *This is my voluntary review of a advanced reader copy*
More than friends is the second book I've read by Jody Holford, and I really enjoyed this one. It was funny and sweet. Gabby and Owen are great characters. The storyline had me giggling all the way through. Gabby has always had more than platonic feelings for Owen but, has never told him. They are great friends and live close to each other. Owen isn't good with Christmas spirit. He tries to avoid going home to see his family. He has tried all the excuses in the book and this year he's about to be caught out. Owens family are coming to him for Christmas this year, and his little white lies are about to catch up with him. He needs gabby's help. He needs a special girl who can play the part of the serious girlfriend (who he couldn't possibly leave over the holiday period). Gabby doesn't have any family of her own and Owen is the closest friend she has. When he asks her to be his fake girlfriend she can't help but want to test the relationship water. She's always liked Owen and hopes to get over her crush. If he's a bad kisser it just wouldn't work. Hours of kissing later and some comical family moments... maybe there is more to their relationship. 4.5 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed this one and even though the story was predictable there were no cringe-worthy moments. More than friends is perfect to get you in the Christmas spirit. *ARC for honest review*
I'm a sucker for a fake-relationship story, especially if it's two best friends and one has been in love with the other forever. Add in the holidays and overbearing family and by golly I might just squee from the excitement. Owen Burnett has lied to his mother, it's got out of control and now he needs to find a fake girlfriend stat, because his family are coming to town to meet the non-existent girlfriend he is so in love with that he can't come home for Christmas. The truth is that Owen hates Christmas and he feels like the odd one out amongst his family, he's an introvert nerd and they are loud, boisterous and Christmas lovers. Gabriella Michaelson lives in the flat next to his in a small apartment building. An aspiring artist, she's been in love with Owen for ages but she knows she is totally not his type. But it wouldn't be so bad to live the life she's dreamed of, just for a week, would it? Forced by his well-meaning family into sharing a bedroom Owen and Gabby find they can be more than just friends. This is a sweet, light-hearted, funny novella that hits all the right notes. Perfect holiday reading. I received a free copy of this novella from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A sweet, friends-to-lovers (holiday) romance! Owen and Gabby have been best friends for two years, since a few months after they both moved into Kendrick Place, when Owen got the apartment that Gabby, an amateur artist, coveted for its views, windows, and wood floors. When Owen comes up with the suggestion that she pretend to be his fake girlfriend while his family is in town for the holidays (he'd previously told his mother that he'd found "the one" in the hopes of getting her off his back about finding a girlfriend/wife/giving her grandchildren) and offers an apartment switch as incentive, Gabby swallows her misgivings and agrees. Of course you know before you even get past the first chapter how that is going to go, so really you're reading the book for the journey as much as the destination. And in this instance, the journey is enjoyable--as long as you can look past a few questionable bits. For example, I get why Owen's mother, father, elderly aunt, and sister decide to bring Christmas to Owen since he wasn't going to come home for the holiday. But why do they decide to stay with him in his two bedroom apartment (and only one of those bedrooms actually has a bed) instead of getting rooms in a nearby hotel? It seems throwing our hero and heroine into closer, more awkward quarters is the only real reason. Their friends-to-lovers romance is a delicious troupe--add in the fact that Gabby's been secretly in love with him for most of their friendship and he's totally oblivious (squee!)--so much potential. All good things. BUT almost the second she agrees to his whole plot, Owen suddenly realizes that Gabby's a woman. And desirable. And okay, the whole having-your-eyes-opened-to-the-truth bit is a staple to the troupe, but there really isn't any catalyst for it here beyond him asking her to be his fake girlfriend. He does, and wham! he notices that she's a gorgeous woman and he's actually attracted to her. Um, okay... Then there's all the background noise. On the one hand, Owen's other friend Brady and the mysterious Wyatt (whom Gabby befriends) engender enough interest to make me hope they're getting their own stories, since they all live in the series' titular Kendrick Place. On the other hand, the side plots with slimy apartment manager Jake, the broken into storage spaces, the missing box, and the almost-broken-into mailboxes feel neither fully developed nor completely resolved in the end. Will they be further addressed in later series books? Maybe. It's hard to say, and those bits make the story feel a somewhat unfinished. And, argh--where are Owen's glasses on that cover? Sigh... Still, Owen and Gabby are sweet together, and their developing romance makes for some akwardly cute moments. Though this story wasn't without its flaws, it has accomplished its job of making me anticipate future books in the series. Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
A beautiful light hearted holiday clean romance to boost the holiday season on it romantic endeavor. There’s nothing like kicking off the holidays to please the family. Owen told a little lie to please his family for the holidays and the next thing he knows he had to produce results. Gabby best friend and neighbor to one Owen Burnett got herself a holiday season like none before. She got herself a fake boyfriend for the holiday along with his family. This sweet, clean romance offers a bit of the holiday cheer along with a friendship that takes that final step and blossoms to its potential.
More Than Friends is a sweet romance that features best friends who pretend to be dating to fool family. Owen likes nice, quiet holidays and he dreads returning home because his family sees it as the perfect opportunity to fix him up with unwanted dates. When Christmas rolls around, Owen tells his family that he is dating someone and doesn't want to leave. All is good until Owen's family decides to pick up Christmas and move the holiday to his apartment so they can meet his new love. Owen panics and asks his best friend Gabby to pretend to his girlfriend. She agrees but is keeping her feelings to herself. How will this work out.... with a happy ending or in hurt feelings? This is a cute spin on a classic romantic troupe. I liked the leading characters and felt this book a nice balance between romance and friendship. I hope the next book in the series features Gabby's grumpy neighbor Grady. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
Owen’s best friend was Gabby, Gabby worked as an administrative assistant at a local community college but she was also an artist. Gabby had the apartment next to Owen. Owen worked at home in a tech job. Gabby had an easy going personality and was usually happy. Gabby had been asked to do a five piece show o0n New Years Eve at the Carter Klein Gallery and that was a big thing for Gabby and helping her to get her career as an artist going. Owen had met Gabby a couple of years ago when they had both come for an apartment in the building they now lived in at that time Owen had been with perfect Vanessa his dream girl. Gabby and Owen had gotten close when Vanessa was no longer in Owen’s life. Owen hates messes and clutter and Christmas. Owen’s mom was Beth, his father was Leo his sister was Ophelia or Lia and his aunt was Patty who was seventy and now going through a divorce after four decades of marriage. All Owens family were coming to his apartment for Christmas all because Owen had lied to his mom and told her he had found the one the love of his life as he hated all the noise and strangers his parents had over on the last two Christmases he went home. Now Owens family was coming to meet the girl he loved. Gabby said Owen was the King of clean and Master of Order and laughed heartily at the thought of Owen sharing his apartment with his family. Then Owen asked Gabby to act like she was the girl and they were in love as she did know him better than anyone. Owen knew Gabby hated to lie and he had tried to tell his mother the truth but then she went on about maybe his Aunt Patty would enjoy Christmas after all. Owen knew Gabby loved his apartment and said after his family left again she could have it and Owen would move into hers if Gabby would do this for him. Gabby actually loved Owen as a man and not just as her best friend but kept all those feeling buried inside of her. Gabby loved Christmas but more often than not it reminded her she was alone, her parents had died twelve years ago by a drunk driver and she was an only child and Gabby blamed herself for their deaths. Gabby knew she was the opposite of beautiful perfect Vanessa. I absolutely loved this story. It had a great plot and was written well. At times I laughed while reading this book and at times I choked up a tribute to the author. I felt like i was there. I loved Owen’s family and was sad to see how he disappointed them with his lie but they forgave as they had unconditional love for him. I also loved Gabby and how she would do anything for Owen even lie and she always defended him I just loved her personality even when she was sad everyone else came first. I liked Owen a lot even though he didn’t see things right before his eyes for a long time and he did lie .i read this story at one sitting so wasn’t long but had everything the story needed. The story quiet simply thoroughly enjoyable as far as I am concerned. So I definitely loved the characters and how they all interacted and I also loved the ins and outs of the story and I highly recommend
3.5 stars More Than Friends by Jody Holford was a sweet and enjoyable contemporary friends to more romance. Owen and Gabby were endearing characters that entertained me with their love story. The relationship was sweet, believable, the drama was well done and the storyline held my interest from the first page until the last. Overall, More Than Friends is a beautifully written friends to lovers story and a lovely read for the upcoming holiday season.
I voluntarily reviewed this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.I enjoyed reading this friends to lovers storyline,it grabbed my attention from page one.I definitely will recommend it.
More Than Friends by Jody Holford....Such a sweet fun book at the perfect time of the year. I absolutely love friends to lovers and Owen and Gabby are the perfect couple to play pretend. I enjoyed their story so much, it will hit all the emotion button and you can't put it down. I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book from publisher via NetGalley.
Pretending to be the fake girlfriend to your best friend, who you are secretly in love with for days at Christmas when his family comes to visit, what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, quite a bit. This is a sweet story of geeky Owen, (who I fell a little bit in love with) and sweet Gabby who feels so much, pretending to be a couple to keep up the pretense of Owen's lie. Gabby loves Owen but has pretty much resigned herself to the fact that Owen will never see her as she sees him. All this pretending is really blurring the lines and showing Gabby how it could be if Owen would love her more than a friend. There's eye opening moments for them and when Owen thinks he's doing the right thing, he ends up hurting her. Will he be able to make Gabby understand what he meant by what he did? Will she be able to forgive him for the pain that he caused?
This book is the beginning of a new series by Ms Holford, Kendrick Place, as well as the first book I read by this author. The story centers around Owen, a geek that is best friends with his neighbor, Gabby. Gabby works in a college but is an artistic painter currently getting ready for a showing in a gallery. She has been in love with Owen but he is clueless and she doesn’t tell him because their friendship is too important for her. Owen family decides to visit him for Christmas, and that’s when the ruse begins. It was a cute story but that’s about it. I did not feel invested in it and am not sure I would search for the next in the series. I was gifted this ARC by Netgalley. The opinions expressed are solely my own.
This is a wonderfully done friends to lovers story with a fake girlfriend twist that just leaves you smiling. It's clean and sweet with great writing and characters. Gabby and Owen are so cute together and the interaction with Owen's family is so fun. As the relationship and feelings start to turn from pretend to real, the fear of losing the friendship they have becomes overwhelming. Putting it on the line might be a risk neither is willing to take. This one is set around the Christmas holiday so it's perfect for this time of year. Definitely a recommended read.
I can never get enough of friends to lovers stories. More than Friends took an age old diatribe and gave it a less sexy, but more sweet face lift. He's organized. She's messy. He's oblivious, she's in love. What happens when a charade becomes the real deal? This friendship may never be the same. More than Friends sparkles with charm. Not only have I discovered a new author, I lost my heart along the way.