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

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Title: The Friend Zone (Game On #2)

Author: Kristen Callihan

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

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Synopsis

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.

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Meagan’s 4.5 Star Review

The Hook Up (Game on #1) was my favorite sports romance from last year. Now, after reading The Friend Zone (Game On #2) I think I found my favorite for 2015. Friends to lovers stories can get a little boring. The same formula for every book gets old real fast, but Callihan breathes new life into the sub-genre. Her writing style is fresh and funny, and she creates relatable characters that you’d want to be friends with

“You didn’t warn me that you were brining a hot guy home, you fuckface.”

Gray and Ivy, like all of Callihan’s protagonists, are multidimensional. Gray isn’t just a dumb jock and Ivy isn’t a naïve college co-ed looking for love. The characters have layers; beautiful, sometimes hilarious layers that make their story fun to watch play out. I loved that Gray was a football player but he was also a huge nerd. Ivy wasn’t a stereotype either, she loved to bake but she was also into sports. Neither of them could be stuffed into one category: jock or virgin, slut or rich girl. They were real characters with various attributes. It made it fun to get to know them as the book went on.

GrayG: A. Shudder. B. Yeah, no. C. I had this dream that you were sucking my 8==> But when I looked down, I discovered it was actually a goat…you know. Then I really woke up because I yelled so hard, I fell out of bed. And now I live in mortal terror of goats.


IvyMac: LMFAO! Gray got it from a goat!


GrayG: >:-[


IvyMac: Goat-on-Gray action! Heeeee! *Falls down ded*

I love the humor used through the book. Gray and Ivy’s text conversations were sweet and super funny. It was a great way to show how their friendship started as well as how quickly they connected even without actually meeting. Callihan also does a great job using laughter to highlight the ease and friendship between Gray and his friends as well as between Ivy and her sister.

“Kiss the girl, already.” Johnson begins to sing. Badly.

A cheesy tot hits his cheek, and he chucks a wing at Diaz in retaliation. It goes wide.

“Isn’t that the song the little crab sings in The Lion King?” Dex asks.

“It’s The Little Mermaid. And stop playing like you don’t know.”

“Says the dude who knows the lyrics.”

This was the first friends to lovers story where I actually felt the threat of the characters ruining their friendship was plausible. Most of the time I roll my eyes when the main characters lament over whether or not they should act on their more than friendly feelings toward their best friends, but when Gray and Ivy voiced their fears it felt real. They loved each other before they were romantic and they really were each other’s best friend. You could feel the frustration when they tried to talk themselves out of starting something. They obviously wanted each other but the risk of not having one another in their lives was too great. Their constant struggle felt real. When Gray and Ivy do decide to give a romantic relationship a chance it’s such a relief. The pent up emotion is almost overwhelming, and it makes their first time together explosive.

“It will be so good, Mac. So fucking good between us. We just have to try. Tell me you want try.”

Even though I was pretty sure where the story was going the author was still able surprise me. There were many twists I didn’t see coming but somehow they all fit perfectly. I did have a few small problems with the story, which is why I didn’t give it five stars. There was a storyline with Gay’s family that just dropped. I had a lot of questions that didn’t get answered there. Also, and I really, really hate saying this, I didn’t love the epilogue. It fell flat for me. But except for a few minor things I love Gray and Ivy’s story.

“I need you.”

He shudders, his hands in my hair, on my cheeks. “You have me,” he says against my lips. “I don’t think you understand how much you have me.”

I could go on and on about what I liked about The Friend Zone, but you really have to read it to understand how awesome it is. I highly recommend you pick up a copy for you and maybe even one for your “friend.”

“The fact is, Ivy, for me, there is one absolute truth. The sum of my existence equals you.”

meagan

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Excerpt

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.”

“W-what?”

“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 the Author
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Kristen Callihan

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather do. 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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