The Friend Zone
Book 2, Game On
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Gray doesn't make friends with women. He has sex with them. Until Ivy.
The last thing star tight-end Gray Grayson wants to do is drive his agent's daughter's bubblegum pink car. But he needs the wheels and she's studying abroad. Something he explains when she sends him an irate text to let him know exactly how much pain she'll put him in if he crashes her beloved ride. Before he knows it, Ivy Mackenzie has become his best texting bud. But then Ivy comes home and everything goes haywire. Because the only thing Gray can think of is being with Ivy.
Ivy doesn't have sex with friends. Especially not with a certain football player. No matter how hot he makes her...
Gray drives Ivy crazy. He's irreverent, sex on a stick, and completely off limits. Because, Ivy has one golden rule: never get involved with one of her father's clients. A rule that's proving harder to keep now that Gray is doing his best to seduce her. Her best friend is fast becoming the most irresistible guy she's ever met.
Which means Gray is going to have to use all his skills to win Ivy's heart. Game on.
What's New in Version 2.0
Updated back matter
It's all about the Cupcake and Special Sauce!
How is it possible to love a story so much? That previous statement is a testament to the power of Kristen Callihan's writing. A book might be an inanimate object, yet the power it wields is infinite and intangible. One can experience the greatest emotions life has to offer by simply connecting with the characters in a book. The Friend Zone is the perfect example of such artistry. There wasn't a single emotion I didn't feel and I finished this book craving more of everything I'd experienced.
Ivy and Gray are wonderful. Apart they are strong individuals with personalities that make them stand out. Ivy is warm, hardworking, funny, and sincere. I loved her. It was her attitude I think that impressed me the most. She's seen what fame brings a sports star and it wasn't pretty, so she's leery of getting involved with an athlete. Gray is is somewhat the same when it comes to his personality, except he's had other challenges he's faced that have left indelible marks on his soul. It's amazing how wonderful the two are together. It's not just the chemistry between them that you can see and feel in the texts they exchange or the nicknames they give one another, but it's also in how they are around each other.
The romantic tension between them was so delicious to read about and yet difficult as well. That's due to being in both of their heads and knowing their fears and feelings making their interactions so wonderful to read. I just wanted them to get over everything and be together. It really felt like they were trying so hard not to give in to their feelings for all of the wrong reasons. The long wait for them to have some epiphanies was so worth it. I have to say Gray surprised me the most when it came to being in a relationship. Not only was it extremely unexpected for him especially since he was an unrepentant manwhore, but I had no idea he was a closet romantic, and neither did he. It was interesting to see how a man who hadn't had a girlfriend since he was 6, deal with wanting to be in a relationship for the first time and with a strong woman like Ivy at that.
Of course not everything was all easy between them. Both of them had to deal with their perceptions of each other and what they wanted from each other while trying to figure out how everything worked with what they wanted for their futures. And to make things even more interesting, lessons and incidences from their pasts were also pressing on the present and future. I love how everything tied together and was relevant to them and their growing relationship with each other. Both Ivy and Gray were hilarious and they had some choice one-liners. Their verbal sparring was very entertaining to read. I laughed so much. I also swooned frequently. It's hard not to when faced with Gray and the way he thinks. That man is amazing. There were also tears, fears, and anger. Sometimes I felt a mix of many emotions all at once.
It was wonderful to see Drew and Anna again. I also loved the nod to Elle Kennedy's The Mistake. I may or may not have squealed when I read that paragraph. I really loved how Kristen Callihan incorporated so many issues into this story. It wasn't just the respective pasts of Ivy and Gray, but also dealing with Drew's insecurities after having his future plans upended, and other problems other team members were facing. The story might have centered around Ivy and Gray, but many members of the team played central roles in their story as well and I loved seeing the camaraderie between them all. I'm hoping to see more Ivy and Gray in the future and also keeping my fingers crossed Fiona, Ivy's sister, might get her own book. I already know who I'd like to see her with. I'm amazed at how much I've had to say about The Friend Zone, I could say so much more, but even that would be inadequate to verbalize the magic and wonder that can be found in this story. Kristin Callihan once again outdoes herself and it shows in every word in this tale of friendship, love, and taking chances.
Loved THE HOOK UP, but overall I was really disappointed in The Friend Zone
Review originally posted on Reading Books Like a Boss
The Friend Zone was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015. Last year, I read The Hook Up, the first book in Kristen Callihan's Game On series, and fell in love with it. It quickly became one of my favorite new adult romances. I really liked Gray and Ivy in the beginning of this book but overall I was really disappointed in The Friend Zone.
We met Gray in book one, as Drew's best friend and resident ladies' man. He has a different girl in his bed every night and is a star football player for the university. As a senior, he is already shopping for agents for when he goes pro, and at the end of The Hook Up it seemed he found one—Mackenzie. As fate would have it, he ends up borrowing his to-be agent's daughter's car, a pink Fiat. After Ivy finds out, she lets him know that there will be no Gray shenanigans in her car, beginning a cute texting friendship between them. After hundreds of text messages, Ivy comes back to the States and meets Gray.
I love friends-to-lovers storylines. When I read The Hook Up last year there was a short excerpt of this book in it (specifically, the scene where Gray picks Ivy up at the airport). I was so excited to see their friendship develop from complete strangers into a full-blown love story.
The very beginning of the book was my favorite part. The text messages between Gray and Ivy were really cute and fun to read. Knowing Gray from book one, I was amused that he was so smitten with the own of his loaner pink Fiat. It was clear that being friends with a girl was something way out of Gray's area of sexpertise. Midway through the book, one scene in particular was really freaking hot and I could feel the anticipation and sexual tension.
Perhaps my own expectations were the problem here and had I not had them I wouldn't have been as disappointed. What I didn't like overall about this book was the fact that Callihan developed Ivy and Gray's relationship really quickly and the "conflicts" were contrived. I was hoping to get to see Ivy and Gray's friendship evolve. I wanted to see this ladies man player drown in the unchartered waters of friend zone-dom. However, in chapter two when Ivy gets back to the United States and meets Gray, there is already a mutual sexual attraction between them. I would have much preferred them to be friends and have that attraction build more slowly.
I thought about 60% of the book was enjoyable, but the last 40% I found myself skimming. Just when one conflict was resolved, something else was thrown in there to create more tension. And that "something else" was where the author lost me. Also, there were other things like Gray's brother coming back that I didn't really see the point of, other than to show a more vulnerable side to Gray.
You can read this book as a standalone but I would highly recommend that you read The Hook Up and fully immerse yourself in Drew and Anna's story. Some of the timeline in this book coincides with what happens in book one. Plus, you see quite a bit of Anna and Drew, which was really awesome.
*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Loved this story just as much as I did the first book in the series. Kristen Callihan definitely has a way of making you fall in love with football players that have a soft side. Loved Gray and Ivy just as much as Drew and Anna. Can't wait for the next book!! 😍