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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Girl Next Door (Bend or Break #3) [Cash & Steph] by Amy Jo Cousins

This wasn't exactly what I was expecting.. I mean, I LOVED Cash, he is one of my absolute favorite male characters. He's got it all, mostly a BIG heart and no prejudice no matter the subject. It's exactly what makes him such a good friend not only to Reese and Tom, but also to Steph, even if back in college their friendship had a bit more.. Now, a few years later, he is living in Chicago, has left all his fortune behind to coach young kids through a none profit organization. 

The story starts with Cash's cousin appearing on his doorstep, needing a sort of shelter after outing himself (as gay) to his parents didn't produce the reaction he expected.. Cash, having enough gay friends was the logic option for Denny so he flew to Chicago and hoped Cash would take him in. That he did! He also brought along all his gay/bi friends as backup. So we got a cool meeting not only with Steph but also with Reese and Tom. It was SO MUCH FUN! I loved getting a little bit of this beautiful couple! I can't wait to get into their second installment! But back to our story! Cash did his best with the limited means he has (not using his family's fortune) to take care of himself and Denny, he did a pretty good job! He also introduced him to Rafi, who is Denny's age and also gay. He thought Rafi might me a little bit of help.. that he was and maybe more than that.. though we don't know exactly what happened between these two since the story is told solely from Cash's POV. But well, the next installment is of the two of them so no worries ;)

The book has quite a slow pace. I'm not sure why, but there is a lot of emphasis on Cash's struggles with life - his crappy apartment, the difficulties of dealing with the small budget he has and also the joy of coaching the kids, how much it meant for him and how much he was changing in his attitude to be a better role model for them. There's also reference to him being "stupid" or "slow". He is neither, he is just not that good with formal education. When you see how he deals with life, with the kids and everything around him it's obvious he can handle himself, but yeah, he's not like his best friends and the future they envision.. He just wants a job he enjoys and he is actually good at. Even if the pay isn't that amazing. He rather make a difference and believe in what he is doing. You are falling for him as well, aren't you? ;) 

If there is one thing that didn't make any sense to me it was him and Steph. It's obvious he loves her, it's even obvious she loves him so much she rather keep him at an arm's length so she won't be left broken hearted when he moves on.. and so their relationship was mostly a sexual one.. and while it WAS hot.. (without even mentioning the threesome.. YIKES!) it also felt unsatisfying in the emotional sense. I had to wait up until the very end to actually see a sort of relationship being built by them and then after agreeing to give each other the chance they deserve the book finishes.. I can't say it was rushed, on the contrary, and yet, when we finally got where we needed to be so many chapters before the books comes to an end and we're suppose to be satisfied with that.. I wasn't.. I'm not sure if my problems were because we didn't get Steph's POV or if it was just that I genuinely didn't like her..  I respect her, I love how open she was about sexual experiences, and yet there was NOTHING to her besides that. As I saw it, she has nothing to give besides that because she isn't emotionally available for ANYTHING. I didn't believe her relationship with Amira, it sounded totally fake. I didn't understand her reasoning about Cash and what happened to them in the past, and then didn't understand her reasoning of agreeing to have casual sex with him again. She was TOTALLY disconnected from herself and her emotions. While I can totally be an emotional cripple, even I could have done MUCH better than she. I didn't believe her reasons in the end, it was stupid and TOTALLY unbelievable. She was just using one failed relationship explain too much in her life. 

So all in all, it was an okay read. For me Cash gets 10 points out of 10 for being so perfect (in a none-perfect way) , but the story dragged a bit, I didn't understand where it was going.. Yeah I LOVED getting Reese and Tom, and loved seeing how Cash handled his life, and how much he tried to be more with Steph once he realized how much she truly means to him. BUT for me Steph destroyed the possibility of good romance. Since this IS a romance story it made the book lacking. The sex was supper hot and very adventurous  which was fun to read, and yet I wanted MORE from the two of them, something that would actually make them a real couple and not two friends enjoying sex together. While I could totally see what Steph found in Cash, I didn't see what Cash found in her (besides the sex). What did she have to offer besides being an adventure waiting to happen? Yeah she was a friend when he needed her near the end of the book, but lets be real, she screwed up badly so no wonder she came to help.. it was half apologizing half helping.. 

I really wanted to finally read Cash and Steph's story. I expected it to be fun! What I got was totally different, a story of Cash maturing and dealing with life and also near the end getting the woman he loved (even though he deserves MUCH better). It could have been more, it could have been better but it is what it is. 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 241 pages, 9-13 November 2015 / On GoodReads

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