Just Friends (Never Just Friends, #1) – Saxon James


RATING: ★★★★☆
TITLE: Just Friends (Never Just Friends, #1)
AUTHOR: Saxon James
RELEASE DATE: August 27, 2020
PUBLISHER: Independently Published
GENRE(S): Adult Contemporary, MM Romance, Friends to Lovers


Thank you to Gay Romance Reviews and Saxon James for my advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.


TAGLINE/BLURB:

Just Friends is a best friends-to-lovers romance with an oblivious MC, only one bed, and terrible kangaroo jokes.

Roo
Five years ago, I walked away from Sunbury, Oregon, and left my best friend behind.
The move was supposed to get my life on track. I even had a list.
Life changing epilepsy surgery. Check.
See the world. Check
Get over my straight best friend … Not exactly.
No matter where I go or who I meet, I can’t let Tanner go.
I’m back to tell him how I feel. To get the closure I need once and for all.
Only now I’m here and falling for him all over again, it’s getting harder to say the words.
Because once I have my closure, I’ll be gone.
And this time it will be for good.

Tanner
When my best friend, Roo, left for Australia, it was the worst day of my life.
I thought we’d have each other always.
But Roo needed the surgery so I let him go, thinking he’d come straight back.
Five years is a long time.
Now he’s here, all I want is to hold on tight.
I need to show him what he means to me.
The problem is, I’m not exactly sure what that is.
My draw to him has always been confusing and different—everyone in town says so. But I struggle to understand it.
All I know is I won’t survive him leaving again.
And I’ll do anything to make him stay.


This was such a sweet story, OMG! This is all about two high school best friends, Royce (Roo) and Tanner, who are completely co-dependent. Roo has to move back to his home of Australia when his health becomes so poor that he is forced to have brain surgery. Years later, though the two have maintained contact, Roo surprises Tanner by coming back for a visit. Roo doesn’t know how to tell his best friend that he is gay, something that should have come up way sooner if you ask me. But, at the same time, Tanner is confused as to why he is suddenly looking at Roo a little differently.

This trope is done time and time again in mm romance books, but Saxon James does a great job of giving Roo and Tanner the ability to stand out against the rest. While Tanner has always been protective of Royce, he did a pretty good job of never emasculating his best friend. He always just wants what is best for him and I adored that. And Roo was always in love with Tanner and while I usually despise when authors use the excuse of the other person conveniently never EVER being aware of it, this didn’t bother me too much. Meanwhile, the whole town has just been waiting for them both to realize their true feelings for one another.

I really respected that Roo wasn’t the only one vulnerable in this relationship. Tanner suffers from dyslexia and was constantly called dumb in school, but Roo always came to HIS rescue in that aspect, defending him at every turn.

Ultimately, this was super sweet and full of heart. We have two besties that come back together after years of being apart. When Tanner becomes aware of his attraction to Roo, he proposes they “practice” together, which I didn’t like. How cruel is that to so to a gay man who clearly has major feelings for the other person? But in true mm romance fashion with these tropes, we know that the testing the waters usually turns into major realizations, ultimately resulting in a happy ending (no pun intended… well maybe a little).

I will be happy to see what Saxon James comes up with next in this series.

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