by Frances Mensah Williams
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Pub Date 16 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 30 Mar 2023
Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing
“Like the island sunshine and the samba dancing on the beach and the sweet rum punch, I enjoyed every moment of this delightful book.”—Judy Leigh, USA Today bestselling author
“A heart-warming, gorgeous novel … A perfect curl-up-in bed read.”—Lizzie Damilola Blackburn, author of Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?
“The happy ending that we all love in a romance novel.”—Vasundra Tailor, author of The Secret of Elephants
She’s travelled halfway round the world to paradise. But has it been on her doorstep all along?
When Ruby Lamont’s young son Jake starts telling tall tales about the dad who walked out on them six years ago, it’s time to find out the truth. It’s not that she wants Kenny back in her life—her charming commitment-phobe Griffin, has always been more of a father-figure to Jake—but if she can understand why Kenny broke her heart, perhaps she can finally move on.
Their journey takes them to heart-shaped Sorrel Island, a Caribbean paradise that according to legend was created as an enchanted refuge for lovers. For no-nonsense Ruby, romance is the last thing on her mind. Spoiling for a fight, she confronts her runaway ex, but he’s a changed man, or so he claims. With Kenny seemingly having turned a new leaf, Griffin shows up out of the blue and the tropical heat builds to an inferno.
With sparks of lust and jealousy flying in all directions, Ruby has to wonder whether the magic of Sorrel Island is more than just a legend. As the truth of Kenny’s departure—and Griffin’s arrival—spills out, Ruby must discover whether people really can change—or if she is just destined for heartbreak.
A Note From the Publisher
An entrepreneur, consultant, executive coach and TEDx speaker, Frances is also the author of three non-fiction careers books and the publisher of careers portal ReConnectAfrica.com. She is a passionate advocate for skills development and has written extensively on careers and business relating to Africa and the African diaspora. She has received awards for innovation in business and skills development, culminating in the CBE awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List for services to Africans in the UK and in Africa.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 75 members
The premise of this book was really interesting. I really liked Ruby's Character and the care she has for her son. If I'm being honest, I struggled through the first half of the book, but enjoyed the ending. So, if you're willing to stick it out and keep going I'd say the latter half is worth it and you should definitely pick it up!
I really find the premise of this book very promising. It starts off very funny and has a likeable set of characters. I'm very keen to find out what happens when Jake meets his father, and am rooting for them to find out what happened!
Friends to lovers isn’t usually my bag but I absolutely loved this.
I read this in freezing cold and wet November so loved imagining the beautiful sunny shores of Sorrell Island. The characters were so nuanced and human I found myself relating to them, even the side characters were brilliantly funny and well rounded in this tale of escapism.
Ruby always wondered why Kenny left her and their son, Jake. Finding out he lives in the beautiful Caribbean shores of Sorrell Island and with Jake making up tall tales about his father she decides to pay him a visit. With best friend Griffin along for the ride and a chance meeting with a famous artist who wants to paint her, can Ruby put her past behind her and believe in herself?
Ruby was a brilliantly flawed main protagonist and I loved following her self development and seeing her journey.
This would make a fab holiday read but also a great novel for anyone needing a change of scenery and some loving vibes from the island of hearts!
I was looking forward to this book but it fell flat in many ways. I want to start off by saying that the descriptions of the settings throughout the book were beautiful. It was as if I was transported there, watching the characters from a distance. I also fell in love with the supporting characters as they were fun.
With that being said, I think the main characters fell flat along with the relationships that they held between them. Basically, they just seemed shallow. Also I felt like things were being told and not shown.
All in all, I think if you need a vacation read, this could be for you. Or if you need a pick-me-up book.
Since I cannot rate books in terms of percentages, I’ll round up to three stars.
I enjoyed this book! I was drawn to it by the cute cartoon cover (as I usually am) and was glad to be able to read it early. It wasn't my favorite book ever or even one that is super memorable but I enjoyed it while I was reading!
I like a good friends to lovers book!
The first half of the book is a little hard to get through and somewhat confusing
From the beginning their friendship was comic, hence the Ruby and Griffin show.
Everyone can see the chemistry except Ruby of course. But there’s a secret that looms around from Ruby’s past and I willed myself to finish it just to find out what that big reveal was.
Yeah this w as a wonderful love story of how people fought all odds to come together to be together . I love the characters and the storyline. This boll was approved by netgalley and the publisher for me to read and review.
This book was just too descriptive for me to the point that I don't even care about the characters and what's happening because I'm bored already. Our hero and heroine doesn't feel like real people to me, and they don't even have chemistry together. Unfortunately, this one's not for me.
I liked the premise of this book and the synopsis really appealed to me. I also really liked the majority of the characters, however the start of the book was really quite dramatic in comparison to the actual plot and I felt it was far too predictable. I thought Ruby overreacted slightly to the (totally expected) thing that Griffin apparently did. I say apparently because he just didn’t tell her something that actually could have been really embarrassing for him. To react as she did only to do a 180 by the end of the book felt a bit hurried to be honest. I enjoyed the book but ultimately probably wouldn’t read it again.
A lovely friends to lovers romance. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review.
Loved the idea of this book and friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes in a romance, however this book just isn't for me. I found myself zoning in and out with how much descriptive writing there was, I feel like it was a little too much and it just couldn't keep my attention.
That being said, the idea of the book was fantastic and relatable in some parts!
Now I really enjoyed this read and need to go on vacation like Ruby but she surely got on my nerves with her attitude. Then she was the reason why Kenny left like girl don’t nobody wants to play second best over here making my baby Kenny feel worthless🥺. Overall I enjoyed the connections she made on the island and finally got closure and revelations.
Strictly Friends by Frances Mensah Williams was a cute Friends-to-Lovers story.
Fun characters that made for a fun and light read.
The romance was just right and the character growth was spot-on.
"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Ruby has her hands full when she sets foot on Sorrel Island. Confronting her ex Kenny who walked away from her and her son with no explanation, meeting famous painter Mac and becoming his muse and learning that her best friend Griffin has held a secret from her for years. Strictly Friends takes un on the highs and lows of the long term effects of childhood bullying, the struggle to come to grips with being abandoned and wondering if you are enough and the nee found attention from suitors in unlikely places.
Readers will enjoy this light natured tale of love, friendship and forgiveness. I recommend this book to reader’s .
I found this story to be charming. There were moments where I wanted to slap Ruby because of her attitude. But she and her son deserved answers from her ex. Once she got her answers and a lot more than she bargained for, the book flew by.
I enjoyed this book.
Strictly Friends had many layers of complication just like life which made it easier to read since it wasn’t all fantasy. The relationships have good connection and I felt they were well developed to the point that I was able to find them each relatable or able to predict what certain characters would respond with. Not in a ‘such a predictable book’ sort of way but as if you knew these characters in real life and understood how they would react to certain situations.
I fully appreciated how Ruby showed change with her growth as a woman from someone that despised her ex to someone that respected her ex and even wished him well. It will serve their son better for his future and I wish more people could be that respectful of past partners.
Ruby has her hands full when she sets foot on Sorrel Island. Confronting her ex Kenny who walked away from her and her son with no explanation, meeting famous painter Mac and becoming his muse, and learning that her best friend Griffin has held a secret from her for years. Strictly Friends takes un on the highs and lows of the long-term effects of childhood bullying, the struggle to come to grips with being abandoned and wondering if you are enough and the newfound attention from suitors in unlikely places.
Readers will enjoy this light-natured tale of love, friendship, and forgiveness. I recommend this book to readers.
Anyone would enjoy this book. This is not my preferred kind of book but I was thoroughly entertained. I couldn't put the book down till I finished it. It didn't feel slow at any point. I enjoyed the progression of the plot, though Ruby's stubbornness was very annoying. The romance was really sweet. I enjoyed shipping her with all three men. The ending was satisfying. Would recommend it to anyone looking for a casual read.
This was a quick, cute, and enjoyable read. I loved watching Ruby learn to love herself and prioritize herself as well as her son. There were a lot of romantic options for her, which would be far more overwhelming for me than she seemed to think it was. I liked that though that was a main plot point, it also focused on everyone’s individual character growth as well! It made each character much more dimensional and likeable.
Single mum Ruby feels that she has been let down by men, all except her best friend Griffin. He has helped her parent her son Jake.
After a few incidents at his school, Ruby decides to take Jake to meet his dad Kenny in Sorrel Island.
Will Ruby get the answers she needs from Kenny?
A story of love, friendship, secrets and unanswered questions. Will Griffin and Ruby become more than best friends?
Publication date 16/03/23
Ruby's son Jake is playing up in school. He's making up stories about father which is getting him in even more trouble with his peers. Ruby makes the decision to take Jake to Sorrel Island to finally see his father who abandoned them 6 years ago, when he was 2, so he can start to build a relationship with him. Ruby finds that she has a journey all of her own with Kenny Jakes dad, Mac a famous artist and her best friend Griffin. Sorrel Island is where you find love Ruby finally find her happily ever after?
I enjoy this type of book really easy to read, you don't need to over think it. Yeah it's predictable but if predictable it's called strictly Friends. So from the begining it's very clear the relationship we will be focusing on is Ruby and Griffin as they are best friends. Everyone says they should be together but Riby tells everyone about a kiss they had as teens and they knew they would be friends only from then on. The friendship is something everyone dreams of (you know if you need to bury a body who would you call they wud call eachother no doubt), Ruby doesn't approve of Griffin's playboy life but clearly he doesn't want to settle down. But I think it's more to the point why she doesn't approve?
Now this idea that you pack up take a month of school and work get on a plane then a helicopter with a 8 year old and fly to an island no one has heard of. Well that just sounds insane. But hey this is fiction after all. As Ruby just arrives she stays in a recommend guesthouse and the holiday side of the book is pretty awesome. Made me want to go to Sorell Island if its such a place. We get our love interests Kenny, Jake's dad, Mac a famous artist who looks like George Clooney and ofcourse Griffin is in the background.
The book although a light hearted romcom there is a lot of heavy hitting subject matter in regards to racism placed throughout the book. It is so well place it doesn't make the story any harder to read but it reminds us of some very important issues going on still world wide. She also talks about body image throughout which I found to be quite deep and powerful, Ruby is a tall black woman and there are preconceived notions Ruby has had attached to her because of this and therefore she hates her body. Yet others love it. I think the way the author demonstrates that just because we tell someone every day they look amazing often won't make them believe it.
I must say the characters throughout are all quite well developed and have their own stories that go along nicely with the narrative. I think Nana was my favourite to quote her favorite line "im not one to say i told you so". It's a book that greatly represents diversity and ethnicity. There's also talk on mental health and trauma. It's just so well done because although I have learnt about different musical interventions in the book, it still was just so easy. This would be so great for a YA audience and well as anyone who enjoys RomComs/women's literature.
I must sayThis is a great book, with a strong black female IT'S ABOUT TIME! I truly felt like Ruby was a queen and I loves reading her journey. Yes the main plot is predictable but that's what you get for this genre on plus side its not as cut and dry as most in this genre I have read so that makes it stand out from the rest the characters are great storyline good, prose excellent all in all it was great. 3.5*
Thank you to Netgalley, Frances Mensah Williams and Lake Union publishers for the advanced digital copy of Strictly Friends in exchange for my fair and honest opinions.
This was ADORABLE for fans of the Unhoneymooners and the Flatshare. Highly recommend for a cute read!
Strictly friends by Frances Mensah Williams 🏝️
I was very kindly approved for a proof of this book via NetGalley- all thoughts are my own✨
Ruby’s son is having a difficult time at school. Jake keeps telling his peers made up stories about his dad who walked out 6 years ago. Ruby is finally convinced to go and find Kenny (dad) on Sorrel Island. She’s doing this for Jake and not for her broken heart. Ruby convinces herself that life is fine, she has Jake, her auntie, friends and best friend, Griffin. While Ruby has her heart set against romance, she finds herself tangled with Kenny, Max and Griffin. Will Ruby find love on this island or was it right in front of her all along?
I would put this book in my “easy read” pile. The plot is soft and gentle with minimal angst. I didn’t have to think when reading and sometimes, I need that.
Ruby is an interesting character. At points, I felt like she could have been developed further to help the reader relate to her.
Griffin and Ruby are cute together. The title tells you where this book is going…. So I wasn’t that invested in the other two men.
The language to describe the island was beautiful. I could imagine sitting at the beach and picture the food.
It was a lovely light read. Strictly friends comes out in March ❤️ 3 ⭐️
A fabulous story about life, love, and finding healing. I loved the journey this story took me on and the characters were complex and flawed. Did I think the female main character was a little too stubborn? Absolutely. But it was believable after what she had gone through with her first love.
A lot of growth was made by all of the characters in this novel and I couldn’t put it down. The setting was described beautifully. I think this would be even better in audiobook format because the main character does quite a bit of inner monologue.
Review posted to Goodreads, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble.
It took me longer than I anticipated to finish this book, but that‘s only because of all the stress at work, having to work overtime and all. So that says nothing about how good or bad the book was. I just didn‘t have the time or mental capacity to read it as fast as I‘d liked to.
Well, let‘s talk about the book itself. It was such an easy read thanks to the easy story telling and writing of the author, but also the story itself was such a cute one. It‘s a cute romance story with a friends to lovers trope BUT it‘s not only about the romance, it also has some few side topics like family issues, selflove, self acceptance, self esteem, being a mother and all that. Again it‘s not the best piece of literature I‘ve ever read but that‘s also not something I expect or want out of a romance book. It‘s predictable but absolutely adorable. This is a good book for someone who loves a good romance novel.
When Ruby Lamont’s young son Jake starts telling tall tales about the dad who walked out on them six years ago, she realises that, for her son’s sake, it’s time to find out the truth. It’s not that she wants Kenny back in her life—her best friend, charming commitment-phobe Griffin, has always been more of a father-figure to Jake—but if she can understand once and for all why Kenny broke her heart by leaving her, perhaps she and Jake can finally move on.
Their journey takes them to heart-shaped Sorrel Island, a Caribbean paradise that according to legend was created as an enchanted refuge for lovers. For no-nonsense Ruby, romance is the last thing on her mind. Spoiling for a fight, she confronts her runaway ex, but he’s a changed man, or so he claims. Just as Ruby’s starting to remember what she saw in Kenny, gorgeous American portrait artist Mac propositions her for a role as his muse, or more…and when Griffin shows up out of the blue, seemingly with more on his mind than friendly moral support, the tropical heat builds to an inferno.
With sparks of lust and jealousy flying in all directions, Ruby has to wonder whether the magic of Sorrel Island is more than just a legend. As the truth of Kenny’s departure—and Griffin’s arrival—spills out, she seems destined for another devastating heartbreak. Shaken out of her state of romantic limbo, Ruby must discover whether people really can change—or if paradise has been on her doorstep all along.
A meaningful story about love and life. This story took me on a journey which connected me with the main female character. There were moments where I wanted to shake Ruby because of her stubbornness. The plot is soft and gentle and the book is easy ti read.
Strictly Friends explores a light hearted story but many layers of a single mother who when steps out meets so many new people and the experiences she never imagined would happen with her are something that makes her realise her own worth and with her son Ruby is able to express herself and finally find the courage to get out of her cocoon and say what people around her have been saying it forever. I liked how realistic the character Ruby as a mother and as a lover was and while there are people who can love you there wouldn't be much left if you don't love the person standing in front of you. The complications of relationships is well explored and gives you an insight into the idea of a love triangle or a triangle somewhat close to it.
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