Title: King of the Friend Zone
Author: Sheralyn Pratt
Publisher: Wicked Sassy
Release Date: August 2016
Length: 351 pages
Series?: Power of the Matchmaker #9
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Esme Taylor has an amazing fiancé, a lifelong best friend, and a problem. The problem stems from the fact that her best friend is named Hunter and, well. . .he’s kind of (totally) hot. It’s hate at first sight when her fiancé, Jon, and Hunter meet. Jon’s convinced that Hunter is in love with Esme, and that Hunter must be out of the picture if their upcoming marriage is to succeed.
Esme thinks Jon is paranoid.
The truth is, Jon’s not that far off. Hunter is in love with his best friend and always has been. What Jon has wrong, however, is that Hunter never had any plans of ruining Esme’s happily ever after. Hunter wants what’s best for Esme, even if that’s not him.
When Jon pushes hard to end Esme and Hunter’s friendship, opposition comes from the most unlikely of places. It’s an eccentric lady with a cookie cart who suggests a different solution to Esme’s problem: Hunter and Esme should give each other a chance.
They’ve both thought of the possibility over the years—of course they have. But with a ring already on Esme’s finger and a heap of hurt feelings and broken trust in the mix, there hasn’t been a worse time to explore the depths of their feelings for each other.
Both Esme and Hunter think it’s time to move on and leave childhood crushes in the past. The question is: Can one woman and the taste of one cookie change their minds?
Hunter and Esme have grown up their whole lives with one another. Their mothers were best friends, so naturally they became best friends. Esme keeps up with all of the calls for service Hunter is dispatched to, competes with him for steps on her FitBit, and constantly keeps up by texts. They are integral parts of each other’s lives, which they quickly learn the hard way after being ripped apart by jealousy – Esme’s jealous fiancé, that is. Jon is a straight up douche that goes for the jugular and single-handedly cuts all communication between the lifelong best friends and manipulates Esme into making decisions she later regrets.
While Esme is figuring it out with Jon, Hunter is busy working with a street kid named Kenny. Shauna, his social worker, has brought several kids Hunter’s way before…usually the end of the line.
Hunter – a hot fireman
Esme – a crisis manager
Daryl – Hunter’s fireman coworker
Grace – Esme’s friend; she helped Grace out in a bad situation before
Luke – Hunter’s best friend; he flips houses
Kenny – a kid in the system; assigned to work with Hunter at his boxing gym
Shauna – Kenny’s social worker; in an abusive relationship
He kept going, ignoring his phone when it buzzed yet again. But Andy didn’t. “Someone named, uh, NOT TODAY SATAN is blowing up your phone, Hunter.”
“Leave it,” Hunter said, still going strong.
“Another psycho?” Andy guessed, clearly trying to distract him.
“Basically,” Hunter said, earning an arched look from Daryl in his peripheral vision.
The Highs and Lows
- Real. What I loved most about this story was so real. Hunter’s reactions and inner dialogue were so on point. He thought – and sometimes said – what everyone else was thinking. Sometimes it wasn’t the best time or place, but he was honest with himself. And with others, even when they were in denial. *cough* Esme *cough*
- Jon the Jackass. Seriously, the guy had a major problem. He was the best worst guy ever. Right from the start he immediately hones in on Hunter and creates problems. He is very manipulative and selfish. I was hoping Esme would catch on, but the girl was blind. I thought he was going to slip up in front of other people, but he was always able to keep his cool. A master manipulator, knowing when to turn it on and turn it off.
- Esme’s Stalking. Seriously, NOT TODAY SATAN. Esme asked for certain things from Hunter – demanded them – and then went against everything she asked him for. I could not wrap my brain around that, even as a woman. I tried feeling some sympathy for her, but I couldn’t. She was a character I didn’t really like. She abandoned all of her character and integrity and beliefs.
- Shauna’s Story. While Shauna knows Hunter on a professional level due to her work, he and his firemen friend Daryl do their best to help her out in a sticky situation. She works with Kenny, a young rough and tough kid who doesn’t believe in Hunter’s methods. The change in Kenny is profound, and he and Hunter (and Esme) play an intregal part in Shauna’s story.
- The Fun. I love how fun Hunter is. He is such a jokester. The conversation he has with Daryl and his girlfriend about if they were a TV show was quite humorous. As was the engagement party.
- The Cookie. Miss Pearl’s cookie cart in the park was genius. No two cookies every taste the same, and she has incredible wisdom she imparts to Hunter and Esme.
This was a fun read! I really like reading from Hunter’s perspective. Esme rubbed me after a while, but she still had a story to offer.
Sheralyn was born at an early age, with 10 fingers and 10 toes. She is proud to report that she currently retains all 20 digits. Described by one reviewer as “the bomb dot com” (url already claimed… bummer), Sheralyn has been a karate instructor, musical theater performer, a beach bum, freelance writer, nomadic traveler, and, yes, a private investigator. At the moment she enjoys working with and training her dog to give the poor thing breaks from sitting and Sheralyn’s feet with the unbearable task of watching someone write a book.
Sheralyn currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, although as people who know her can attest to, that is subject to change at any time 😉