Awww.... I liked this so much.
This is a friends to lovers story. But from page one you learn that Nick and Gina are in love with each other. Nick a little moresoe than Gina at first. I mean that guy is Drunk in Love, Dangerously In Love, Crazy In Love...(okay I'll stop with the Beyoncé). But seriously...dude is turnt out!
When the opportunity comes for Nick to make his feelings known to Gina he does so. She reciprocates. This happens very, very early in the book.
So the conflict isn't about them falling in love. In fact, even though the they break the seal on sex and moves the relationship far away from the platonic, their bond of friendship is so strong that it remains as the foundation for their romantic relationship. This was the thing about this book I think I loved the most. Even amongst their romantic travails, Nick and Gina always felt like the best of mates. Even their dialogue throughout the book, while peppered with words of love, still held that awesome tinge of friends who can say anything to each other, insult each other, give each other monumental shit...the only way best friends can. They were ride or die for each other.
Their romance doesn't imperil their friendship, instead their friendship is what solidifies their romance.
The conflict then comes from Nick's job. Although he and Gina had been friends for over ten years and have been (silently) in love for most of that time, Gina has no clue that Nick is basically in a mob family.
So she has to reconcile her moralilty with her love and affection for this man.
I love how the author allows Gina to work through that. It could have been so easy to manufacture drama and misunderstandings, but no matter how awful things got, no matter what they said to each other sometimes in the height of anger and emotion, the fact of the matter is Gina never forgets what this man means to her. So Gina always works her way back around and a lot of time she does it through some smart inner reasoning.
Hence my enjoyment of this book. It didn't follow predictable paths. There were so many times it made left turns, as it were, in the narrative.. things I just wasn't expecting. For instance, the character of Sofia was just such a left turn. She is set up to be a certain type of character. But then... she starts to talk and says things and I couldn't help but be delighted with her. In another book her materialism and cynicism would probably have made her less than sympathetic, in this one it is simply a facet of her personality that actually makes her feel honest. I loved Sofia. And I loved the relationship she and Gina developed as the book went on.
- the dialogue was excellent. I love British slang and it is all over this book.
- It was funny in places. Gina's 'voice' is particularly fun.
- Nick understands Gina's hair issues. Over they years he has surreptitiously stocked his bathroom with her fave hair products as well as hot combs and straighteners for the times she's stayed over. Come on! This guy is Irreplaceable, Flawless (ok, more Beyoncé..sorry)
Madly enjoyed this one.