I really liked this one. Was it perfect? No. Was it still pretty dang good? Yes! Jimenez tackled love and friendship and loss and health issues with impressive balance and consideration.

I should also say from the get go, this one is a lot less fairy tale happy then something like The Hating Game. I liked that book a lot, but it’s in a different category for me than The Friend Zone. So depending on what you’re looking for, this may or may not be the romance for you! Read on to find out!

Kristin has serious uterus issues. They often leave her in debilitating pain and so she’s decided to get a hysterectomy. She’s made peace with that decision.

She’s also made peace with having a boyfriend who’s enlisted and kinda sucks, but is ok with never having kids.  Kristin figures that who she deserves.

Then she meets Josh in some not so flattering circumstances.

She soon discovers that Josh is her best friend’s fiance’s best friend. Which means the rough first impression is going to make planning the wedding awkward. But he proves to be a sweet, all around good guy and ends up helping her with some projects for work.

Cue the Hallmark music.
Speaking of nice guys who use their hands. Hi Zac

Their friendship begins, starting slow before it builds and builds. And she discovers there’s nothing better then a nice, helpful, attractive guy who takes off his shirt while he builds stuff with his hands. 

And she is absolutely sending him ‘yes let’s date signals,’ which she shouldn’t do because she’s got a man. She’s also keeping her health issues a secret and not saying a word when he talks about wanting a lot of kids.

Which she has a right to do. Until she and her man break up and she literally launches herself at Josh.

To compensate for her not having told him the truth and to keep him at arm’s length, she said she’ll only be friends with benefits.

Josh is clear about wanting their relationship to be a real thing. And even before she demands they stay casual, he can tell she’s hiding something from him. But in light of the recent break up, he decides to take it slow and earn her trust. Also the whole, ‘a little bit of you is better than none’ thing is motivating him. 

Her best friend is like bruh, I know he said some stuff about wanting kids, a lot of them, and not wanting to adopt (which is rude) but talk to him. He really likes you and people change.

And she’s like no no no no no. 

Which is rather annoying. I know it isn’t easy, and I know it’s hard to put yourself out there. But this is fiction and it felt like we went over that same argument sooooo many times. (Personal opinion.  Sorry Jimenez.)

Then, they implode. Ex boyfriend comes back into her life, Josh has a crisis about his job.

And that is when ish gets real. Like, things get super real. I’m not going to give anything away here, but it’s a serious 180 and things get hard. Death and depression hard. I was waiting at the edge of my seat, hoping these characters could piece things back together.

Jimenez writing the last half of the book

I was impressed. I thought the sad/hard life elements were handled well and realistically. And watching how things played out afterward was sweet and heartbreaking and encouraging all at once. It felt authentic in a way that often romance isn’t. Which isn’t a slight to the other books, this one was just doing something different.

I do wish the ending hadn’t gone down the way it did. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it did kinda diminish the work Jimenez had done to prop Kristin up the whole book. Not that it wasn’t well done, it just felt kinda like cheating. Although Jimenez does have a statement at the end of the book that kinda helped.

But I really liked it and I would recommend it for anyone who wants some romance with a side of real life.