besties to lovers

rating: ★★★★☆
title: The New Normal (Gold Coast Collage,1)
author: LJ Hayward
release date: May 25, 2020
setting: Australia
publisher: independently published
genres: mm romance, contemporary romance, friends to lovers

I received a digital arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This was a sweet friends to lovers story about Brian, a newbie doctor and Andrew, an aspiring architect who was JUST given the medical all clear that he is cancer free. Upon this news and the fact that a couple in their friend group is disgustingly happy, Andrew musters the courage to tell Brian that he is in love with him.

There is a bit of awkwardness there between them at first but they are both so cute, especially Andrew! I didn’t love the lack of angst in this book (I love me some angst), but that was okay. The sexy times totally made up for it.

What I liked: This was a well-done and very well-written story. The relationship between Andrew and Brian was wonderful. I mean, what relationship isn’t without it’s issues? So the problems that arise in the formulation of this worked well for me. I love the established relationship/friendship that was already there between them as well. With all that Andrew went through with his cancer, Brian was there through every single bit. That is a strong commitment and a strong connection already in place, Add the vulnerability of a new budding romance and new feelings into the equation is going to take some getting used to.

What I didn’t like: The rest of the friend group, more so two in particular (but mostly just one of them… you will probably know who I am talking about if you have read it). This person was manipulative and needy when they shouldn’t have been and it drove me insane. What right did they have? UGH!!!

All in all this was great introduction into my enjoyment of L.J. Hayward’s work.


Brian Stagliano’s life should be pretty sweet right now. Two of his closest friends are getting married, and he’s taking a new, exciting step in his career as a doctor. Most amazing though, his best mate has been given the all clear from cancer. But Brian’s normal has just been tipped A over T and the friendship he’s relied on for years is in danger. All because of five little words.

Andrew Fitzroy should be on top of the world. The cancer that’s haunted him is gone. He can finally get on with his life—except he doesn’t know what that life is anymore. Is he brave enough to come out as bisexual? Should he pursue architecture or stay in construction? Either way, Andrew knows happiness won’t be his until he has what his engaged friends have—love, joy, passion. So, he says those five little words to Brian—I’m in love with you.

Friends since childhood, Brian and Andrew have always been closer than brothers. Best mates. Nothing could ever tear them apart. Except for those five little words. Now, Brian’s not sure about so many things—their friendship, his own desires—and the foundation Andrew’s built his world on feels like its crumbling. But if they manage not to destroy everything they have together, Andrew and Brian might just find a new normal with each other.

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