An attraction that can’t be denied ….
Ten years spent trying to forget.
Kyle returns to his home town following years away to discover Sophie, the girl he could never have, nursing a broken heart after being dumped by her fiancé.
A decade before Sophie and Kyle hated each other, she thought he was an arrogant playboy and he thought she was a spoilt princess. However one night a drunken kiss changed everything ….
Back then he was the achingly attractive bad boy that, however much she tried, Sophie couldn’t resist. Now as Kyle spends the summer attempting to revive Sophie from her misery, she wonders if the one person she wouldn’t let herself have is the only one who can save her? (Goodreads)
I’m not sure if I’m having a good run of reading brilliant books, but Just Between Us isn’t breaking this lucky streak. Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book as I hadn’t heard of it prior to being asked by the author if I would like a review copy. Let me tell you, this was a book that I found difficult to actually put down.
Just Between Us should have came with a major warning. “Caution: Book is seriously hot! Good chance it may cause reader to become hot and bothered in need of a cold shower. Also has serious angsty issues that results in reader wishing to smack both characters for being Muppets” Yes, it is one of those type of books and to be honest I ate up this book like it was a bag of Malteasers. (Anyone who has seen me with Malteasers will know what I mean)
Oakes has crafted a book that is complex in its execution. The blurb gives very little away about the relationship between Kyle and Sophie, so I expected the typical reformed Bad Boy returns and brings the Good Girl back to life. In many ways this is true, but the novel and interesting twist is the fact that Kyle and Sophie were also step siblings. This added a complication that I hadn’t expected and gave a new spin to this genre.
By inserting the back story to that summer that caused so much heart-ache, we begin to build up a better understanding of this already complicated relationship. At first, Kyle really does come across as a mean womanising Douche-bag, that is totally contradictive to the man he becomes. We are left wondering what caused such a shift in character, especially in the ways in which his relationship with Sophie seems to have crashed and burned to an extent that he has never been back home for nearly ten years.
Kyle only comes back to attend Sophie’s now cancelled wedding. He finds her a mere shadow of the woman he once knew. In an effort to get her out of her funk, he offers to take her back to London over the summer so that she can attempt to think what her next steps in order to get her life back on track.
It is here that we once again see a different side to the already complex and deep Kylie, for his friends in London comment on how he seems different and more happier that Sophie is back on the scene.
Adding to the complication is Sophie’s fear of what everyone will think about her and Kyle being step-siblings and one time lovers. Away from their hometown, both Kyle and Sophie are able to pursue a relationship, even if it is just for the summer. However, history looks to repeat itself and even though ten years have passed, Sophie still fears what the people in her home town will think if she chooses to have a long term relationship with the former bad boy.
What made this such an interesting read was the fact that you get to see both Sophie and Kyles point of view, especially in the present time. It gives a more rounded experience as you are able to see the story from the other person.
For most of the book I did have a lot of sympathy for Sophie, but as I began to learn more about Kyle I began to find myself growing increasingly annoyed with how she was acting. Again, this was mostly in the present day. As I pointed out earlier in my review present day Kyle is so different from the jerk portrayed by Sophie in the past. Kyle has seemingly matured while Sophie is still living in the past and can’t help feeling that what they feel is wrong due to the fact that they are step-siblings. This could have been the case if Kyle and Sophie had grew up when they were very young, but their parents got together when they were in their early teens and Kyle only really stayed with his dad when his mother moved to Spain. So they never really grew up together.
As this is a romance book, you can guess that they do get together at the end, but it is never about the destination but the journey and that is what is great about this book. Oakes has balanced a compelling angst ridden story with some really smouldering scenes that come across as very natural. Other authors of this genre I have read seem to write sex scenes that can come across as very forced or one or both of the characters end up acting out of character. Oakes avoids this and reading the more intimate scenes is enjoyable for how natural it comes across.
I can’t recommend this book high enough. It surprised me that this was a self-published author as the quality of this book is of such a highly professional nature. Oakes has a gift of creating very fleshed out characters and your loyalty and empathy flips constantly between them. She has crafted a tale that just flows naturally and you are swept along by these two characters story. It has just the right amount of steaminess that serves their journey well. Oakes is an author I will be looking out for and will be going on my auto-buy list.