When Harry Met Sally meets 500 Days of Summer in A Guide to Being Just Friends, a playful and emotional romantic comedy from the author of Ten Rules for Faking It.
“Sophie Sullivan’s writing feels like a warm hug.” —Rachel Lynn Solomon, bestselling author of The Ex Talk
Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.
Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.
When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike up a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.
What could possibly go wrong?
“A joyful, swoony romance full of heart and humor!”—Sarah Adams, author of The Cheat Sheet
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
A Guide to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan is the story of Haley Sharp, Wes Jansen, and the guide they are writing together – a guide to male/female friendships. Haley moved to a new town, determined to start over and build her small salad shop, Salad by the Cup. She left a toxic relationship and a secure catering job in Los Angeles. Now, she is only looking forward to her shop’s success. She doesn’t want to start a new romantic relationship anytime soon but does need friends. When Wes Jansen mistakes her for the blind date he is waiting for at the coffee shop next door, little did they know that the unlikely ill-fated meeting would lead to Haley making her first friend and becoming part of a found family that is exactly what she did need to begin again.
Actual Reading Experience:
Wow, I was so shocked when I realized that this book is part of a series, not to mention it’s the third in a series, and I had already read the first two. Needless to say, each book can be read as a stand-alone. What clued me in to notice that this was part of a series is that the back stories of Wes’ brothers sounded very familiar – just like two books I had read. I’m still shaking my head over it. Each book focuses on one of the three brothers and how each found the woman he would one day marry. Nora Roberts writes many romance series this way, and I love the technique.
This is a friends-to-lovers romance and, like many others of this style, is a slow burn. I notoriously lose patience with slow burns, but because of my familiarity with the brothers’ stories, my patience remains intact. I happily followed along, knowing that one day they would wake up ready to put the past where it belongs and find a new trail to forge together. Their relationship feels authentic, and I appreciate that. It also gives off strong When Harry Met Sally vibes. I could even hear Harry telling Sally that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way numerous times.
The side plots and characters helped with this too. They are all so interesting, especially the young man from the rec center whom Haley brought on at Wes’ suggestion to help her with deliveries. I’ve spent my entire adult life assisting teens in finding their way in a world that is often unkind and unfair, so these types of stories touch my heart profoundly.
The writing is intelligent and engaging. It stays focused on the main plot, only venturing off for side plots that touch the heart and are well worth diverting the reader’s attention. The writing pulled me in immediately and kept me focused until the end.
Haley Sharp is a focused, determined woman whose bubbly, friendly demeanor makes anything seem possible.
Wes Jansen is the oldest of three brothers who live under their father’s shadow though they fight like mad to escape from under it. It’s particularly hard on Wes because he is the oldest and has taken on the brunt of family responsibilities all his life.
Narration & Pacing:
The story is told in first-person narration through dual perspectives – Haley’s and Wes’. This worked very well to get both sides of the story as it helped me not get frustrated too soon. They both have fair arguments as to their choices, and I think most of us would react the same in their shoes.
The pacing is medium to fast. Personally, I almost finished it in one sitting, which speaks volumes about the pace for me.
The setting is a small town on the California coast, though the beach is only referenced briefly. The story takes place in the heart of the town instead and focuses its time on that part of town. The reader doesn’t even know much about where Haley lives because it is not anywhere near downtown.
Read if you like:
- Friends to Lovers romances
- Found family themes
- PG-rated romances (closed-door)
|‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness||10|
|Use of Setting||8|
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of the book to review.