Bitterness and Lies Between JUST FRIENDS–A Review

just-friends-blitz-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a dark contemporary YA romance form best-selling author Monica Murphy. JUST FRIENDS explores the dynamics between several high school seniors, and how their friendships are altered by sex.

just-friends-coverAbout the book:
It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.

But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times—and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.

So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.

Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.

My Review:
This is a rather dark contemporary YA romance that features a lot of manipulation, fair amounts of drugs and alcohol, and some sex on the page between high school seniors.

Olivia, Dustin and Emily are three best friends growing up in an upscale California town. Olivia and Dustin had been having a casual physical relationship that Dustin wants to escalate, but Olivia’s worried it’ll upset Em. Also, Olivia is conflicted regarding Dustin. She loves him, but isn’t sure if she can really date him. She leaves for an extended summer visit in Oregon with her father. Over the weeks Olivia’s gone lots of changes happen between Em and Dustin, and Em in particular. She begins drinking more heavily, and invites over more popular kids to party at her house while her parents leave her unattended for days on end. There is lots of getting high, and getting wasted and getting horizontal–especially for Em and new boy Ryan.

Ryan’s made it clear: he only wants Em for a casual hook-up, and has no real feelings for her. He’s not the only boy Em hooks up with, though, and the revelations send shock waves through what seemed an unshakeable friendship between Em, Olivia and Dustin. I think this part was really easy to relate to, as betrayal is a touchstone emotion. I must say that the guys in this book are so ridiculous. It’s as if they are all running a bizarre sexual Catch-22, where the more a girl gives, the less they desire her–and that felt cruel. The Just Friends distinction was openly false, with some people pretending to “use” their users. I seriously wanted to smack some people, maybe everyone. There’s back-biting, and cat-fighting and actual fighting, though it’s not always front-and-center. Em’s jealous that not only Dustin, but Ryan, seem to want Olivia, and it’s rough to experience how they all fall apart over he said/she said and these false distinctions regarding attacment and attraction. That was unfortunately terrifyingly believable, those little digs and cuts people make to hurt those with whom they are closest, and really brought home the subtle slut shaming that is just as pervasive as open slut-shaming.

Ryan is the ultimate player, and he doesn’t mind twisting any situation to his advantage. He seems a consummate narcissist, and he wants Olivia. Because reasons. Is he playing her to get Em to give up more? Or is he jsut flirting? Or, does he want to build a real relationship? None of this seems clear to Olivia, who is rightfully suspicious and cautious. Ryan sees no problems with the way he’s treated other girls, notably Em, and I get that he feels blameless there, but it’s a hollow sort of acceptance for the reader. In general, I didn’t like Ryan, and never found an affinity for him. I had a real intuition that he’d play Olivia, and while it doesn’t seem that happens, the book ends with a set-up for a sequel. So, heartache may still loom.

The book is rife with drama and angst, as Olivia unwinds her feelings for Em, Dustin, and Ryan. Plus, she’s got a creepy dude dating her mom who seems to be a developing problem. I’m encouraged that Olivia’s new friend, Amanda, will be a bigger part of the next book, as she seemed like a nice girl and one I’d like to see have a real love. I’m not so sure I’m interested in Olivia’s life, except as one stands by, horrified, watching a train wreck unfold in slow motion. Gonna be lots of collateral damage, I’m sure.

Interested? You can find JUST FRIENDS on Goodreads, Amazon (US, UK, Can, and Aus), Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

About the Author:
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is a traditionally published author with Bantam/Random House and Harper Collins/Avon, as well as an independently published author. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance. She is also USA Today bestselling romance author Karen Erickson.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives with her family in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere, along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through many angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Catch up With Monica here:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterestInstagram

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Happy Book Birthday to DARING THE BAD BOY! Excerpt & Giveaway

MMurphy-DaringtheBadBoyTourHi there! Today I”m helping get the word out on a contemporary YA romance from Ms. Monica Murphy. I’ve liked some of her books in the past, GAME FOR MARRIAGE and GAME FOR TROUBLE, so I know DARING THE BAD BOY will be a sure hit.

Catch the excerpt below and enter to win a $10 GC in the giveaway!

DaringTheBadboy-crush-final-01About the book:
Truth or Dare was never this much fun…
Annie McFarland is sick of being a shy nobody. A session at summer camp seems like the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself—gain some confidence, kiss a boy, be whoever she wants to be. A few days in, she’s already set her sights on über-hottie Kyle. Too bad her fear of water keeps her away from the lake, where Kyle is always hanging out.

Jacob Fazio is at Camp Pine Ridge after one too many screw-ups. Junior counseling seems like punishment enough, but the rigid no-fraternizing-with-campers rules harsh his chill. When a night of Truth or Dare gets him roped into teaching Annie how to swim, she begs him to also teach her how to snag Kyle.

Late-night swim sessions turn into late-night kissing sessions…but there’s more on the line than just their hearts. If they get caught, Jake’s headed straight to juvie, but Annie’s more than ready to dare him to reveal the truth.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drinking, sexual situations, adult language, and an intense bad boy hero who will melt your heart.

How about a little taste?

Great. The rudest boy at camp just so happened to save my life. I hoped he wasn’t one of those types who expected me to be indebted to him for the rest of the summer or whatever.

I looked away and coughed, water filling my mouth so I had no choice but to avert my head and spit it out. My cheeks felt hot, and I couldn’t believe I was embarrassed, but old habits died hard, I guess.

He said nothing, just grabbed my hand and walked/ dragged me the rest of the way out of the water, until we were standing on the sandy beach. I heard feet thumping on the dock and I glanced up, watched in disbelief as the majority of my so-called friends and the boys from B7B ran off the dock. Not a one of them had stayed behind to see if I was okay.

Not a single one of them.

Were they scared they’d get in trouble? Would Jacob rat me out? He was the director’s nephew, after all. I needed to say something to him. I didn’t want to get in trouble. I didn’t want to be sent home, and I’m pretty sure he had the power to make both things happen.

Before I could say anything, though, Jacob grabbed my shoulders and gave them a little shake so I’d look up at him. His eyes were dark, his mouth set in a grim line, and he bent his knees a little so our gazes were even. “You really all right?” he asked, his tone firm.

I’d quit coughing, but my voice still came out slightly wheezy. “I’m fine.” My bones felt like jelly and I thought I might pass out from lack of oxygen, but yeah. I was great.

He squeezed my bare shoulders with his big hands, his fingers sliding over my thin bikini straps, and I realized I’d never stood this close to a boy before with so little clothing on. A shiver moved through me, and I tried to take a step back for much-needed distance, but he wouldn’t let me go.

“That was really stupid, jumping off the dock like that,” he said, his deep voice now full of irritation.

“Trust me, I wasn’t trying to impress you.” I couldn’t believe I’d said that. But I was offended that he basically just called me stupid.

“No kidding.” He released his hold on my shoulders and walked a few steps away, snatching up something off the beach. “And I definitely wasn’t impressed.”

I made an incredulous sound, one I usually saved for the privacy of my bedroom when no one else was around, and he sent me a look. I was reluctant to admit it was sort of a cute look, his dark eyebrows raised, as if he dared me to contradict him.

So I did.

“Are you going to write me up?” When he still said nothing, I continued. “You said you would earlier.” I glanced around, noticed that the dock was completely empty. Where was Kelsey, anyway? Did she leave me, too? “You want me to?” “N-no. O-of c-course n-not.” My teeth had started to chatter. I didn’t know if it was from the cold or the shock, or a combination of both, but I couldn’t make them stop.

“Did you bring a towel with you at least?” Jacob asked. When I shook my head, he muttered something that sounded distinctly like a curse word starting with the letter F. The sympathetic look he shot my way was surprising as he came back toward me, his hand thrust outward, a ball of fabric clutched in it. “Take this.”

I didn’t want him feeling sorry for me. And that didn’t look like a towel. “Wh-what i-is it?” I wrapped my arms around my middle, my fingers brushing against my goosebump-covered torso. I couldn’t stop shaking. It was like I had no control over my body.

He sighed and glanced to his left, then his right, like he wanted to make sure there was no one around before he stepped forward and stretched the dark fabric between his hands. “Don’t move,” he ordered, his tone bossy as he yanked the fabric over my head.

I jerked against his first touch, but otherwise I remained still. It was a giant hoodie that he slipped over my head. Warm and soft and a little sandy from when he’d abandoned it on the beach. The fabric clung to my damp skin and the hem fell to my thighs, covering me from my neck to almost my knees. I shoved my arms in the sleeves but they were so long, they swallowed my hands completely, even when I stretched my fingers out.

He stepped closer and reached behind my head, pulling the hood up so that it covered my soaked hair. Then he grabbed hold of the strings at the sweatshirt’s neck and tugged on them, so the hood cinched around my face tightly, his gaze never leaving mine. “Better?”

I nodded and took a deep breath, the shivering starting to subside, thank goodness. “Much.”

Jacob reached out and wiped one cheek, then the other, his thumb rough yet warm against my chilled skin. “You’re still wet.”

“I should p-probably take a shower.” I clamped my freezing lips shut. Why did I just say that? Showers meant naked, and I didn’t want to talk about getting naked with Jacob.

Interested? You can find DARING THE BAD BOY on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is a traditionally published author with Bantam/Random House and Harper Collins/Avon, as well as an independently published author. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance. She is also USA Today bestselling romance author Karen Erickson.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives with her family in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere, along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through many angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Catch up With Monica here:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterestInstagram

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Cover Reveal–HER DESTINY by Monica Murphy

Ta-da!!!

HD Cover

A contemporary YA romance coming soon

from best-selling author Monica Murphy.

Add HER DESTINY on Goodreads

About HER DESTINY:
I knew from the moment I first saw him he was the one. The only boy I could ever want.
The only boy I could ever love.

They say he’s bad for me.

But I know he’s not.

Until the day he rejects me.

And breaks my heart.

Everything changes in the blink of an eye. My entire life as I’ve known it is…gone. Secrets are revealed. Promises once made are irrevocably broken. There’s no way my family can get back to what we once were.

So when Nicholas Fairfield walks back into my life like he never left it, I’m furious. Thrilled. Irritated. Excited.

Despite my confusion, I want to be with him. I love him. But danger lurks where we least expect it. Someone will do whatever it takes to tear us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.

 

Don’t forget to read HIS REVERIE while you wait…

His ReverieAbout HIS REVERIE:

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.

The only girl I could ever love.

She is light.

I am darkness.

She is innocent.

I’ve done too much.

She is good.

I am bad.

She is my every dream.

I should be her every nightmare.

We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…

Not.

Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.

The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.

Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.

Interested? You can find HIS REVERIE on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon

MonicaMurphypic-250x373About Monica Murphy:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite. A wife and mother of three, she writes New Adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She is the author of One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Author Goodreads | Amazon author page

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