Title: ALMOST JUST FRIENDS
Series: WILDSTONE #4
Author: JILL SHALVIS
Publication Date: JANUARY 21, 2020
Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.
When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblings…well, they need each other.
Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herself…Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun.What a fantastic book this is, and also the superb storyline make it more intriguing and enjoyable. This is the first Women’s Fiction book I read this year, and to be honest, it wasn’t a disappointment. I was very much happy with it.
This isn’t just a story about a woman and a man falling in love with one another, but this is also a story about loss, grief, betrayal, and a complicated family relationship. So much to be explored in this story, and all the important topics such as the unexpected pregnancy and drug addiction has become the most discussed topics in the story. These are important, and the heroine was the one who got affected by these problems.
Piper and her busy-and-a-little-bit-unorganized life has been living a very tough life. The things that happened to her was too much for her to handle, and she was so young when she lost her parents and had to take care of her younger siblings; Gavin and Winnie—who had problems of their own. And one night, she met Cam who is the new guy in town, and also her neighbor whom she thought could be her temporary distraction. Sparks fly, then new problems arise and she had to make a tough decision.
All the characters appeared in the story had their own time to shine, but of course Piper and Cam gets the most spotlight since this is their story after all. These character had a very rough journey, and it was emotional to me the moment I found out what actually happened to each of them. Piper and her problem, Cam and his problem, Gavin and his problem, and Winnie and her problem. It was a bit stressful reading their parts—mainly Cam, Gavin, and Winnie—because of how much secrets they kept from Piper, and everyone knew that keeping secrets and telling lies will tear apart any relationship—be it family or not.
I understood Gavin, Winnie, and Cam’s reasons for not being honest to Piper, and why they decided to keep the secrets as secrets, because the secrets was too big and I also knew that Piper wouldn’t be able handle it since her life was already complicated enough. But still, I much preferred them to be honest to Piper instead of keeping her in the dark. I feel bad for her for not knowing the truth, and I totally get her anger when she found out. If I were her, I would’ve feel betrayed too because my own family and the man I love kept something so big from me.
I don’t get why characters keeping secret is still a thing. I prefer a very honest character who can’t lie even if their life depended on it, and always tell the truth. I know that learning the truth is scary because sometimes you don’t want to know the truth about something for fear that it would crush you, but it’s better to know than not knowing at all. This book really took a toll on me, I was stressed out ever since I found out that Gavin and Cam knew something about Winnie and refused to let Piper know about Winnie’s problem. I had a bad feeling about it because I knew it would blow up somehow and all of them had to face the consequences of their own actions. I can’t blame Piper for getting angry later on, I can relate to her pain after all.
I couldn’t connect with most of the characters, and not many of them are very likable to me. The only character I can connect to is Piper, and she’s like the only likable character in this book. I do like Cam too, but not as much as Piper. As for Gavin and Winnie, I just can’t bring myself to like their characters at all. I was happy that they did what they could to help Piper with good reasons, after all they’re family, but I still can’t forgive them for their huge betrayal. I get why they had to be so secretive, but that was still low of them for being so dishonest with their own sister.
I was glad the author took her time to bring Gavin’s and Winnie’s problems to light in the story. At least it helps me to understand what sort of things they had to go through and why they acted differently toward Piper in the beginning. I knew something doesn’t sit well with them, and the reasons both of them came back to Wildstone wasn’t just because they wanted to help their sister. I sensed there was something more to their reasons. Both of them had different problems that they had to deal with, but it was also nice to see them do something that kept them busy and also help them slowly heal from what they’ve been through. They’re like the most helpful siblings, but can be very stubborn too.
Piper being the heroine of the story had a lot of problems she had to face. She’s an EMT, and her job was not easy. Also, she had to make an adjustment in her life and try to fit her siblings into her life. She had to do a lot of things to help her siblings since she is the oldest out of the three of them. Her life was very tiring and very rough, I did feel bad for her because most of the time she look so tired, and also it looks like she doesn’t had enough sleep. Her constant worrying about her siblings and her feelings for Cam made her so stressful, and I knew how that felt. I constantly worried about a lot of things—minus the relationship part because I don’t have time for that—and that’s what makes me feel so stressed out most of the time.
Piper is a very relatable character. It feels nice to have a character that I can relate to, and that’s why I can feel a strong connection between me who is a reader, and Piper who is a fictional character that happens to be the heroine/protagonist of this story. Through Piper’s story and journey I learned a lot about so many things, but mostly about life, how to handle my personal problems, and how to stop from worrying too much. This is why Piper is my favorite, and I’m sure a lot of readers will find her character so likable, and I hope many readers will appreciate her more.
Cam is a DEA agent, who also has other multiple jobs that are related to him being an agent. As the new guy in town, he came off as this mysterious person. The first time he appeared in the story, I was wondering what hidden things did he hide about himself. Oh how surprised I was when I found out he actually knew more about Piper’s family than Piper herself. No wonder he was so hell-bent on helping her siblings. Cam is such a nice man, and he was also worried too much about a lot of things, but mainly about Winnie, because of what his late brother Rowan did to her that left her heartbroken and also left him with his guilt. It was hard for Cam to open up about the truth that happened the night of the accident. When he revealed everything, I was sorry for his loss, and that’s when I knew why he was so guilty and miserable the whole time.
I hated seeing him beating himself up because he felt guilty for not being able to save his brother’s life. The final moment they shared was so heartbreaking to read. What Cam did was very generous. He doesn’t only try to mend things with his father and help him, but he was also trying to help Piper and her family even though he doesn’t have to. I loved that he considered Piper’s siblings as his family too, and doesn’t judge Gavin and Winnie’s past mistakes. He encouraged them to be better. I find his character so likable at first, but the moment he kept those secrets from Piper, that was the moment that made me disliked his character a little bit. But overall, he is a nice man with a big heart, and I still like him, just not as much as I did when his character first appeared.
The romance in this book was between Cam and Piper, which I think is very obvious after the second chapter. This pairing was nice actually, and both of them shared the same stubborn attitude, and strong personality which is why it was fitting for them to have a romantic relationship. There was some tension in their relationship, and there was a time when they disagreed with each other about certain things which is very normal for a couple. But what made their bond stronger was how much they can relate to each other’s feelings and situations. These two lost their own respective family members, and they were still grieving even after so many years. They’re not only connected physically, but also emotionally which is very rare to find in most fictional couple. The loss, the grief, and the guilt they felt was too much, but at least they had each other to help them heal.
I find their relationship beautiful. They started off as strangers then neighbors then sort of friends-with-benefits, but those whole progress made them realize that they wanted to be more to each other. One of the thing I liked the most about their relationship was how whenever Piper was unsure and afraid of them becoming more, Cam always be the one to asked her questions and made her tell the truth, which she doesn’t back down anyway. I liked that Cam doesn’t just left her to her own thoughts like most male love interest do, and instead he made Piper shared her biggest fear about their relationship with him, which she always being so open and honest about, unlike most heroine who loves hiding their true feelings and shield it with lies instead. Cam and Piper’s honesty about their feelings for each other made it all better because they aren’t afraid to confess it and sharing what they were so scared of about the whole relationship thing. They always have an open discussion with one another regarding what they wanted to do with their relationship. The way I see it, they don’t have a lack of communication in the book which makes them more better than most fictional couple I’ve known.
Cam and Piper is a team, I was happy that they took a slow step and doesn’t just rush anything between them. Cam was ready but afraid if he push too much, he would lose her. As for Piper, she’s an over-thinker, she was afraid to feel so much more because she doesn’t want to include Cam in her already-complicated life, which I really understand. But it frustrates me every time she said it was temporary—the thing between her and Cam. There are so many uncertainties, but I loved how they slowly work it out and how they were brave enough to take this chance to fall in love with each other. Their romance was so heartwarming, but it was also emotional too at some point. It was nice to see them happy in each other’s company, and knowing how safe they felt whenever they were together, it makes me happier. It was nice of the author to pair these two, after all, they shared a deep connection and had a very strong chemistry.
Aside from the romance, Piper also shared a very complicated bond with her siblings. As I already said in the earlier paragraphs about the whole secret thing, it was proof enough how they’re not really close together. It was sad seeing their broken bond, and seeing how they had a hard time trying to live together in one place. There are so many ups and downs in their relationship, and they had an argument almost every time which can get very tiring. The betrayal nearly tear them apart, but I loved how they tried to mend things together and slowly repairing their broken bond. It was the right thing to do actually for them to come together and handle any challenges together instead of handling it individually which doesn’t always work.
Overall it was incredible. What a well-written and moving story it is, and the way it ended was perfect. I was satisfied and happy with the ending, and I did expect that ending actually, just wasn’t sure how the author will do it. This story is beautiful and unique in a lot of ways, but also the emotional journey that the characters had to go through made it all the more better to me. Any women’s fiction story never fail to amaze me, they always made me either happy or emotional, there is no in-between. I hope a lot of people will read this book, and I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.