Rating: 5/5
Steam: 4/5
Angst: 3/5
Trope: Slow Burn, Brother’s Best friend, Real body heroine, friend group, small town, friends to lovers, lessons in seduction.
Series: Orchard Valley book 3. Note: can be read as a standalone

“We’re all beautiful in our own way, it just takes the right person to appreciate it and that just might be yourself”

There is so much to unpack in this book so let’s start with the book.  This was ana amazing story!!  Dean and Abbi are magic on the page.  This is a slow burn romance with some heavy flirting and oh the dirty talk.  This brother’s best friend romance really speaks to the heart.  It really dives deep into how insecurities and perceptions really gage our behaviors. 

Dean comes off as the carefree playboy but it is a ruse.  Dean doesn’t think he is good enough for what he really wants.  I mean seriously, Amy? I get it is a small town but your best friend’s crazy ex-wife… yuck!  Dean proves boys are sometimes super dumb!  Amy is a menace on the page and I really needed her not to be on the page… in real life she would have gotten a t-punched!

Oh Abbi! As a bigger girl myself I felt every word and every hang up she had.  It isn’t often that I identify so strongly with a character.  But Abbi was me and so many of us.  I felt seen and heard in this story.  When Dean tried so hard to get past her walls and insecurities. He was thoughtful in his words.  But still sexy and amazing.   “Listen, it’s hard for me to understand why you can’t accept yourself, but if you’d just try to see what I see, I’ll keep loving you every single day until you see it too. And even if you never do, if you can just promise me you’ll be good to this woman I love” this quote brought all the feelings to the page. To be loved like this. To know that someone is going to love you while you work through your shit. That is powerful.   He really wanted her to feel as amazing as she made him feel!

Abbi was not perfect in any sense of the word.  She made me mad at moments.  Sometimes I wanted to shake her.  The communication between these two and the missed opportunities made me crazy!

One of the many things I loved about this book is it wasn’t a “I am an insecure woman, so please save me”, this was “I showed you how to save yourself and now you need to do the work so we can be together.”  

This book could be read as a complete stand-alone but the other books in the series are just as amazing.  I cannot recommend this series enough. I really love Lexi Ryan.  There is a magic to her stories. (She left us a few easter eggs with a mention of a certain Brewery. So excited) This book was beautifully written. This is one of those books where you feel good, happy and connected to the main characters in every emotion and way possible. Ryan writes real women and real life.  Each character in her stories could be any of us. She is diverse in body types and backgrounds.  I always know coming into her stories I am going to find a new book bestie or book boyfriend.