Synopsis via Goodreads: Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.
*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Every year, the romance community has that one book they spend months hyping up and everywhere you look, somebody is talking about it. You go on Twitter, and there it is. You go on Instagram, and there it is. You log on to Goodreads, and there’s that promo banner at the top of the site. You open your email, and right there in your inbox there’s a message all about the new, exciting upcoming release that everyone can’t stop talking about. The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez was that one book for 2019.
Now I too was excited to read this debut romance. I was especially excited at the fact that this book touches upon the topic of infertility because very few books in the romance genre tackle this subject matter. Now after finishing this book, my excitement has turned into annoyance and rage. Am I really about to hate on everyone’s fave?
The Friend Zone follows the story of Kristen Peterson, a sassy-mouthed 24-year-old who currently struggles with fibroids of the uterus. Though she tries to keep a brave face, Kristen’s condition has made her day to day life almost unbearable. However, slowing down is not an option as she has to help plan her best friend’s wedding. In comes Josh Copeland, the best man and currently a pain in Kristen’s ass. Despite the lies she keeps telling herself, Kristen finds herself drawn to Josh and he too feels the same connection that she does. But Josh wants so much more than Kristen is able to offer him and he is determined to win her over one way or another. Will these two find a way to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way or will some things prove to be too much of a deal breaker?
So I decided to change things up a bit for this review because it was just easier to organize my thoughts this way. While I have more negatives things to say about this book, there were a few still a few positives here and there and they were mainly the reason why I kept reading. First, the writing is good. This story grabbed me from the first page and I had a hard time putting it down. It was quite an addicting read and I just needed to know how things would end for Josh and Kristen. Even after being upset with the bullshit that went down in the last third of the book, I still needed to know how things would end.
While the topic of infertility in romance books is not something new, The Friend Zone goes more in depth of what it means to have a condition that not only makes daily living hard but also makes it difficult for women who do want children to have them. Kirsten’s struggle is one that I’m sure many women can relate to because even though the medical field still doesn’t take this condition seriously enough (and yes I’m throwing hella shade!), hundreds upon thousands of women struggle with some varying condition that makes it difficult for them to get pregnant or just live normal, pain-free lives. I was gifted with crappy genes from both sides of my family so I understand what Kristen’s struggle is like and having weeks where you are out of commission because of severe pain. I definitely related to this aspect of the book the most.
Josh high key had me swooning. Josh is the ideal nice guy who just shows up and sweeps you off your feet and makes all your stress go away. He so caring and understanding and takes care of Kristen when she’s not feeling her best. Also, Josh’s relationship with Stuntman Mike was so cute! But Josh’s character is not without its flaws. See the thing that really irked me when it came to Josh, or more so in his story line itself, was the fact that his world basically revolved around Kristen. Like Kristen literally says, “Of course he was waiting for me. That’s all Josh ever did.” and I was like:
We needed to see more of Josh without Kristen being the focus of his attention, that’s all I’m saying.
This semi-love triangle that was going on in this book was so annoying and in the end, it was completely unnecessary. When Kristen first meets Josh, she’s in a relationship with a marine named Tyler who is currently overseas. Tyler is expected to be returning home for good in a few weeks and then Kristen and Tyler will begin their lives together. Plot twist though, Tyler decides to re-enlist because he loves his job and being in the military and he’s not ready to give that up. So Kristen always said that if Tyler re-enlisted that it would over between them because she doesn’t want to commit to a long-distance relationship anymore AND it just makes me question what purpose did Tyler’s character serve then? Kristen had already caught feelings for Josh even when she was still with Tyler so was Tyler just suppose to be another excuse for Kristen to keep Josh at arms-length? This is why I feel like the love-triangle was completely unnecessary—BECAUSE IT DOESN’T REALLY SERVE A PURPOSE! Side note, there’s not physical cheating in this book, but if you don’t like emotional cheating then this part of the story might be an issue for you.
The miscommunication issues between Josh and Kristen made me want to pull my hair out! For a girl who prides herself in being a straight-shooter and always speaking her mind, Kristen has a real problem with just sitting Josh down and telling him the real reason why they can’t be together. I’m not saying she had to get into her whole medical history, but these two don’t actually sit down and have a conversation about their “relationship” until the very end of the book because Kristen is always running off. She even has to have her best friend tell her that she doesn’t want to see her again until she speaks to Josh. What type of ultimatum is that? Miscommunication or the lack there of has always been a pet peeve of mine in romance books and this book wasn’t any different.
Although I connected with Kristen and her infertility issues, I didn’t really like her character. It’s more of a personal preference thing, but I didn’t agree with some of her actions and how she handled certain situations and I didn’t really connect with her either.
I’m just warning y’all now, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION! So if you still want to read this book without having the ending spoiled for you, STOP READING NOW!
I started to feel like things were going downhill at the halfway point of this book, but it turned into a real shit show at the last 20%. This plot twist for this story is the one plot twist I despise the most and I call it the “accident twist”. Typically with this twist, the author will have either the hero or heroine get into some type of accident and then the pair will realize that they truly can’t live without the other and the miraculous recovery would happen that would lead to an HEA. But here, there’s a twist put on this trope. Instead of having one of the MCs get hurt, a secondary character is killed off instead.
BRANDON DID NOT DESERVE THIS! SLOAN DID NOT DESERVE THIS! Brandon and Sloan were literally days away from walking down the aisle to their own happily-ever-after and then it was all taken away! The blurb said this book would make you cry and it sure did—it made me angry cry for how unnecessary this death was! USING A SECONDARY CHARACTER’S DEATH AS A PLOT DEVICE TO GUARANTEE THE HEA OF THE MAIN COUPLE IS WRONG, SELFISH AND IT’S LAZY WRITING! I don’t even care if there’s a sequel where Sloan gets her own HEA, she and Brandon were happy together and that is how it should’ve stayed.
The next thing that really had me side-eyeing this book was how Kristen suddenly claimed she had OCD after Brandon’s death. First of all, I don’t know out-dated version of the DSM people are reading, but OCD is not triggered by stress. Second of all, just because someone likes to excessively clean when they are stressed does not mean they have OCD! Before Brandon’s death, Kristen never mentioned she had OCD nor were there and signs of her exhibiting obsessive/compulsive behavior. But all of a sudden, Kristen has OCD in the last 10% of this book. Kristen describes her OCD as “manic” and I wanna know where the author was doing her research because in psychology, the term manic refers to elevated feelings of happiness or excitement. Kristen was dealing with the death of her best friend’s fiancé, how was could she possibly feel happiness at a time like this? Kristen also stated, “My OCD was something I harnessed and cultivated for my own purpose. Something useful that made me focused so I could get things done.”
Harnessed? Cultivated? In the same sentence as OCD? That sentence right there just shows the lack of research done to understand what exactly OCD is and how it affects a person. The OCD was just added as a quirky effect and it was not cute, it was offensive!
Then we have the sprinkles on the cupcake, the thing that made me roll my eyes the most, the thing that made me just want to throw my eReader on the subway tracks and leave it there. I’m talking about the fairy tale esque of an ending. The main plot of this story is Kristen saying she can’t be with Josh because she can’t give him what he wants, which is a big family, and lo and behold, we get to the last chapter and guess what happens—KRISTEN FINDS OUT SHE’S BEEN PREGNANT ALL ALONG!
I just can’t y’all. That ending just undoes the whole plot of this book and makes all the fighting and the crappy communication pointless because in the end, Kristen got what she wanted all along. Such a cliché.
There you have it folks, my two cents on Abby Jimenez’s debut, The Friend Zone. I think I’ve got most of my anger out and now I’m ready to move on from this mess.