Title: The Girl Next Door
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
My Rating: B+
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Bend or Break #3
Main Characters: Cash and Steph
Release Date: June 2015
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic
Charles “Cash” Carmichael traded his high-rise condo and family-firm career for a job coaching soccer for Chicago’s inner-city kids. He’s adjusting to living on minimum wage when his young cousin, newly out and running away from home, shows up on his less-than-luxurious doorstep.
Angsty teens definitely aren’t Cash’s thing. He needs local backup, and there’s only one name he can think of: Stephany Tyler. Back in the day, the bisexual Steph was the perfect friend with benefits until she fell in love with a woman.
To his relief, his former friend steps up to the plate. Soon, though, Cash finds himself feeling the familiar need to keep her in his bed, and in his life. But Steph, burned by the ex-girlfriend and by the absentee dad she’s been trying to connect with, won’t risk her heart again.
Good thing Cash believes in leaving it all on the field. If he can just convince Steph to get in the game, there’s a chance they can both win.
Warning: This book contains ex-friends with benefits crossing boundaries a second time, several steamy encounters on staircases, copious discussions about gay sex from a “straight” guy, a shout-out to magic buttons, and an especially memorable going away threesome.
Cash...I think he's one of my favorite characters yet. He's aware that maybe he isn't the brightest bulb in the box and tries really hard to cover for that. He makes sure to think things through and when he's not sure about something, he waits it out hoping things will become clearer. I just wanted to hug him and all his vulnerabilities about this. Because honestly, just that he's aware of it means that he's probably not as dumb as he thinks he is. I think he just has a bit of a self esteem problem about it when people have reacted when he's said something off the cuff.
This book is entirely from Cash's point of view and I love his views on the world. This is a guy who doesn't let a lot bother him. He came from a very wealthy home and when he went to college, he just really didn't have a clue. His good friend Steph helped open his eyes to a lot of that his senior year in college and after two more years of living off daddy's penny, Cash has turned over a new leaf. He left the family bosom and cushy job, car, and condo and moved to work for underprivileged schools, helping to coach young children. He's living for a pittance, but is so much more rewarded by what he's doing that overall it's worth it to him.
I seriously love him, but this is more than just a book about his relationship with Steph...this is a book about friendships and being there for others. There are a series of relationships that float in and out of the book. There are his three friends from college...Steph, Tom, and Reese. But there's also his co-worker. And his confused cousin who come into his life making an impact on where he stands in this world. I loved the exploration of the importance of friends and the security that having close friends nearby offers to Cash. He needs people.
And then there is the romantic story line. As much as I loved Cash, I really wish we'd gotten some of the book from Steph's point of view. Cash just really has no clue about where she's at mentally most of the time and by the end, that just felt unfair to him. They are so close in almost everything, but she holds him at arms length through most of the story. I understood why, but that didn't change my frustration about it.
Overall, this was a great installment to the series. I adored every single little bit of Cash. He's just such an honest, what you see is what you get, kind of guy. I love that he's open-minded and really wants to learn. He may not know everything, but he makes up for that in enthusiasm and willingness to be taught...no matter what it pertains to...from sex to the lives of his kids. He's honestly just a good guy and I fell in love with him.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.