Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Friend Zone (Game On #2) by Kristen Callihan - ARC Review


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 get himself out of the friend zone and into Ivy’s heart. Game on.

Kristine's Review: 

Reviewed: May 2015.

I threw out a book recommendation question to a book group I'm part of last year, and the book that kept popping up over and over again was The Hook Up but Kristen Callihan, like a true book junkie I already had it sitting on my kindle, so I dove in, I was enamoured, in love, in lust and laughing my arse off, the story of Drew and Anna instantly became a favourite, so you can imagine the kind of expectations I had for The Friend Zone, I was expecting laugh out loud funny, equal parts sexy and sweet, I wanted TFZ to catch me off guard the way THU did, I wanted to feel like I was slipping back into drinks with old friends, catching up on their lives, I wanted to be left feeling sated and overjoyed all at the same time.

Gray Grayson is one of the sporting elite, he's football royalty but when he lends his car to his best buddy Drew, Gray is left borrowing his agents daughter, Ivy's car while she is overseas, but this is no ordinary car, its a bubble-gum pink Fiat 500...not the greatest choice for a big tall muscled tight end. One snarky text from Ivy to warn Gray of his impending demise should anything happen to her car sparks a snarky friendship over texts. Slowly but surely the friendship that develops between the two is based solely on their phone interactions, quickly coming to mean something to both of them, they've never met, they haven't shared photo's, this relationship might just be the purest, most honest either has ever experienced.

The bond between Ivy and Gray was evident from the beginning, snarky comments, the constant banter, these two quickly forged a connection that was real, it jumps right off the page giving it a life of its own. Instantly I was hooked, I was invested, I wanted to know more, see more, read more, I wanted throw myself into Gray and Ivy's world and never come out, with flashes of other team mates, the return of one of my favourite couples of all time, Drew and Anna and Fi, Ivy's sister I wanted to drown in this world Callihan had created.

Callihan writes characters that jump right off the page, they are strong, they are brave, they call to you on different levels demanding your attention, Gray is the kind of man you watch, he's confident, sexy and charismatic, he's a mans man, loyal to a fault, he won't back down from a fight. He's smart and athletically gifted, but he works for every inch of the success that comes his way, where sporting stars in romance books often fall into the stereotype of spoilt, entitled alpha holes, but Callihan's characters are broad, defined, they are fully developed, multi faceted so that we get a greater insight into their world. Ivy is strong, sure, she's not the kind of female to fade into the background, she doesn't rely on her looks to get her through life or who her father is, she's the kind of girl who could easily be one of the guys or could hang out with the girls over a bottle of wine. It wasn't just the story that drew me in, had me intrigued and ultimately so invested that I couldn't put it down, it was the characters, the entire ensemble of team mates and friends that had me desperate for me more.

When the passion, chemistry, and connection is this palpable, this real I want to simultaneously speed up and slow down to savour every word, every nuance, every smile, every second of witty banter, every shared look, secret smile, brush of a finger across an arm, I wanted it to sink through the pages and into my skin, branding my heart like a tattoo, some stories you read, some you experience, some have messages that stay with you long after you turn the last page, and sometimes when everything falls into the right place, when you open the right book at the right time magic happens, it reminds you exactly why you read, leaving you feeling sated, and invigorated all at the same time.


The backs of his fingers skim up my arm, raising goose bumps on my skin. “Nice top.”
Even though it’s thirty degrees out, I chose a black silk tank that hugs my waist but gathers loosely over my breasts. A tie around my neck holds the top secure. That I am braless is not lost on him. He stares at my stiff nipples as his fingers drift to the bow at the back of my neck and give it a little flick. “Take it off.”


“Let me see those sweet tits you’ve been teasing me with since you walked in the bar.”

“I—” My breath catches. “No. I’m not taking my clothes off for a stranger.”

He doesn’t look away. “But you want to, don’t you? You want me to look at you.” He bends his head until his lips are at my ear. “You’re dying to expose yourself, to let me see those pretty pink nipples.”

My skin draws tight. I struggle not to sway into him.

He leans back, his attention on my top again. “Untie the bow.”

“Someone might come in.” Despite our play, my fear of getting caught is real, though not completely unwelcome.

“They won’t. I took care of it.”

I believe that. Gray would cover all the bases. In his own way, he’s as much of a planner as I am. But I can’t think of him as Gray now, not when he’s doing this for me.

His fingers are back, skimming over my inner arm, teasing the edges of my top. “Just a little peek.”

My breasts ache so badly, they’re hot, heavy, the silk covering them an irritant. With shaking hands, I reach up. The fabric tugs against my neck then comes free. It slithers over my skin like a caress.

He sucks in an audible breath as my breasts are exposed. I see myself through his eyes, sitting half-naked in this dim back room, my nipples puckered, my breasts quivering with each shallow breath I take. The vulnerability of it feels naughty, forbidden, and I nearly whimper.

A noise of pure satisfaction leaves him. Not bothering to lift his gaze from my breasts, he reaches out, runs the tips of his fingers over my nipple. I’m so sensitized now the touch sends a bolt of pure, searing lust straight through me. I flinch, clench my teeth to keep still.

He hums, strokes me back and forth as if he owns me. “So pretty.” He grazes me again.

“You like that, sweetheart?”

Eyes closed, I bite my lower lip and nod.

I feel him move. The wet flat of his tongue drags over my nipple. My eyes fly open on a strangled cry. He grins up at me, his mouth hovering at my breast. It isn’t his usual cheeky grin but something more wicked. “Mmm. Delicious.”

He takes a step closer, and I swallow convulsively. Gray’s voice lowers. “I wonder where else you taste good. You want to show me, sweets?”

I’m practically panting now. My hair swings as I give my head a hard shake. He leans in, trailing the blunt tip of his finger up the curve of my breast. I nearly yelp when he gives the stiff peak a quick, crude pinch.

His smile is pure male smugness. “Lift up your skirt and show me where you’re wet.”

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About Kristen Callihan:


Writing most curious tales of desire, intrigue, adventure, and true love. Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she'd rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer's Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine's Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher's Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.



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