Cover Image: More Than Friends

More Than Friends

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4.5 Stars

I’m a huge fan of Jody Holford’s cozy mystery series. However, she started out her writing career as a romance writer. More Than Friends marks my first time reading one of Jody’s true romance stories. I love friends to lovers stories. More Than Friends was right up my alley. The fact that the story centers around Christmas made it all the better.

Gabriella Michaelson is all alone in the world. Her parents both died when she was sixteen, and her grandparents who raised her have also passed away. Gabby loves Christmas but this time of year is always hard for her since it’s just her.

Owen Burnett is something of a recluse. He likes to spend time alone. He isn’t a fan of crowds or loud people. He is the polar opposite of his theatrical family who believes in the more the merrier, the louder the better. Owen hates Christmas and thinks he can get out of having to spend it with his family by telling his parents he has to work. To his shock, his family consisting of his parents, sister, and aunt decide to spend Christmas in Boston with him. He might have also mentioned to his mom that he met someone and wanted to spend Christmas with her.

In a panic, Owen walks across the hall, to his best friend Gabby’s apartment, with the goal of asking her to pretend to be his girlfriend for the time his family is in town. To prove he’s desperate and serious, he offers up the one thing he knows Gabby really wants. His apartment. Gabby has had a crush on Owen for a while now. However, in typical Owen fashion, he is totally oblivious to her feelings. A practice kiss blows both their minds and soon they each start to wonder if playing pretend could turn into the real thing.

I LOVED More Than Friends. Gabby and Owen are really great friends and that made them falling in love with each other all the sweeter. They are truly a fun-loving couple. The secondary characters are just as likable. I love that at least one character has this mystery about them that feeds the storyline a little. What’s even better is that the secondary characters have their own stories. I’m definitely reading the other books in the Kendrick Place series.

~ Favorite Quotes~ 

“There isn’t anything about you I would change.”

“I see you, Gabby. You’re everything to me.”

“Sometimes the best things are the ones you don’t plan on or for.”
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I am a fan of sweet, holiday stories, and More Than Friends certainly fit that description. On top of that, it's a friends-to-lovers, which is a trope that I greatly enjoy. I loved Owen and Gabby together, and his family makes it even more entertaining. 

I enjoyed the fact that More Than Friends was a "clean" romance. This was my first book by Jody Holford, and I will continue to read the rest of her books in this series.
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For a new author to me, this wasn't bad, it kept me interested and I quite enjoyed it, I will look out for more from this author. 

I received an advanced copy from Netgalley and voluntarily leave my own opinion
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Owen and Gabby have been best friends for years and he needs a favor.  He just doesn't realize how big of a favor it is.  Or, how much this one favor will change his life forever.
When Owen's family tells him they are coming for Christmas, which he wanted to get out of going because he doesn't like big crowds, he panics.  He told them he met 'the one'.  Now, he has to find a fake girlfriend and make the relationship look real for a week.  Enter the favor.  He asks Gabby to pretend to be his girlfriend in exchange for his apartment, which she has always wanted.  He doesn't realize that she has been in love with him for quite some time.  She agrees, figuring faking it for a week might be the only chance she has to be as close to him as she wants to be.
Once his family shows up, things become real.  She falls even harder and he starts realizing that he has feelings for her, but is afraid of change, so he keeps pushing her away.  As the week progresses and she starts believing that maybe they do have a future, and he starts realizing what an idiot he was when it came to Gabby, she overhears a conversation and her heart is broken.
Did Gabby misunderstand what was being said?  Did Owen miss his chance with Gabby?  When he tries to make things right and puts his foot in his mouth, will he be able to salvage not only the romantic relationship he wants, but also his friendship?
I loved this friends-to-lovers romance and would love to read more by this author.  I received an ARC in exchange for an honest, voluntary review.
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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*
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More Than Friends is a sweet, easy going Christmas romance.  Gabby and Owen are best friends.  When Owen's mother presses him about coming home for Christmas, he begs off saying he can not leave the love of his life alone at Christmas. Only there is no love of his life, as Owen isn't even dating anyone.  Low and behold, his family decides to bring the holiday to him this Christmas and wants to meet Owen's new girlfriend! With no one on his radar, Owen begs Gabby to take on the role of his fake girlfriend.

Gabby reluctantly agrees to go along with Owen's charade.  It will be extremely hard for her because she has harbored feelings for Owen for quite some time, but has kept them buried.  She doesn't want to lose her best friend, so she has never told him of her feelings.  When Owen's family arrives, it's sheer chaos and she LOVES it!  Not having any family, Gabby is overwhelmed when Owen's family easily accepts her as one of their own!  Only now, it is getting harder and harder to fake her attraction to Owen.  Owen is feeling the chemistry too!  His nerdy self can not understand why he never noticed Gabby before now-gosh was he really that stupid??  But there is so much more at stake than his growing feelings.  He knows he cannot ever live without Gabby and if his feelings aren't reciprocated, then he would be devastated! He's in a quandary that's for sure!

I enjoyed reading More Than Friends!  If you are one that enjoys the friends to lovers troupe or a sweet, clean read, than I can recommend this book! I liked Gabby and Owen together.  Being best friends, they understood each others quirks and loved them all the more. Owen was really struggling with his feelings! Gosh his lightbulb should have went off much earlier than it did! Owen's family is exactly how I expected a big, boisterous family to be! They definitely were funny! The only thing that sidelined this story is the mystery at the apartment complex.  After the lead up, that just fizzled out.  I wanted a big smackdown, but what we got wasn't even close.  That made that whole thing, to me, unnecessary, and seemed to be just filler. All and all, this was a nice, entertaining holiday read!

reviewed by Deb
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Loved this book. I’ve read the other books of this series first. It was weird to go back. But when I realized it was the first one. I loved it. Fans and O are so fun. I loved everything about them. Highly recommend this book.
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More Than Friends (Kendrick Place #1)
  Jody Holford
Book Review: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ❣

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*

Paperback £12.99. Ebook £2.37.

200 pages

Published December 5th 2016 by Entangled Publishing
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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 for the holidays, he tells a little white lie…that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But when 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 Owen for what feels like forever, but playing his "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.
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Owen loves his family but finds them to loud and boisterous, something he has a hard time with. Hoping his family will stay away this Christmas, he tells a lie and tells them he has a girlfriend. As he's nearing 30 his mother is beyond overjoyed and insists that the family will come to him to meet this hear girl. Desperate, Owen begs his best friend, Gabby to be his pretend girlfriend. Gabby has loved Owen since she met him and finds it easy to act like she loves him although she hates lying to his family. This book has been told many times over. Nothing is a surprise and so everything that happened was expected.
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Owen and Gabby have been best friends for only a few years but it seems like forever.  they enjoy every minute of their time together.  She is messy, unorganized and an artist.  Owen is buttoned-up, neat and geeky but they get along so well.  So, when Owen's family announces that they are coming for Christmas break to his place and they want to meet this "woman of his dreams" that he has told them was the reason he can't come to visit them, he is stuck.  So, Owen asks for Gabby's help in deceiving his family.  

Gabby hates lying because the one big lie she told got her family killed and she has always felt responsible.  When Owen asks her to lie and be his "fake girlfriend" she isn't sure.  But, she has loved Owen like forever.  She would do almost anything for him. This may the one and only time she has a chance to be with him and even if it is fake, she has to decide if it is worth the risk.  When his family goes home, will they be able to go back to just being friends?  You'll have to read the book to find out.

I enjoyed the story very much and how Owen and Gabby fit so well together, even with their many differences.  The author was able to convey the emotions everyone felt very well in this story and I was eager to get back to the book when I had to put it down to go to work or to cook dinner, etc.  My only real criticism was the language. There wasn't much but there was some foul language that was a bit of a turn-off to me.  

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
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I liked the book. I thought things were really good with it until I had a sudden thought when our heroine, Gabby, mentioned Owen's personality. I realised I didn't know Owen at all. I wasn't expecting him to be so abrupt and acts without thinking. And he didn't seem like a dork to me. More like the opposite of dork. That realisation threw me off and I can't shake that feeling. I thought I shared something special with him (and all the other characters I read about), but I was wrong. 

I love the friends to lovers romance. Or books where one person is secretly in love with the other and they somehow end up doing something naughty or like in this case, pretend they are together when they aren't. I hope the author plans a book about Wyatt, because he seemed like a good guy, with plenty of secrets. Owen's family was a pleasant addition to the story. I liked them. If Ophelia (I hope I got her name right) gets a book I will see them even for a little bit. 

I won't say if I recommend the book or not, because a couple of weeks after finishing the book I am still not sure about the book and how much I liked it,
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