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book cover Limecello’s review of Anybody But Justin by Shelli Stevens
Contemporary romance released by Samhain Publishing 12 May 09

I love friends to lovers stories. There’s just something about them – the connection, history, inside jokes… so much goodness for an author to work with. Shelli Stevens puts a slight spin on her take, with Gabby and Justin being friends, but more like acquaintances or buddies. They have what I’d consider a “surface” friendship. And it works for them. I picked up this book because I loved the premise, it’s short, and I’ve been in the most awful reading slump.

As is a short story, I don’t want to over analyze it and risk ruining things or drag. Gabby and Justin were roommates, but one shared kiss freaked Gabby out, and she ran, moving out and avoiding Justin. Her reasons are that he’s a womanizer. What I actually really like about the story is how similar Gabby and Justin are. They both dated freely and often, and they’re happy with not settling down. Or they were while living together. It was pretty much an ideal roommate situation. Still, they were becoming really good friends and developing what could have been a great relationship, and Justin realizes it. This gives him depth, and makes him quite likable. (Who doesn’t cheer for the guy putting it all on the line to win the heart of his [true] love, right?)

Gabby’s reasons for breaking things off with Justin and not entering a relationship are valid, and important, but not too heavy. Gabby essentially works for a battered women’s shelter, and runs a program with a few of her friends and other co-workers. It was a nice secondary story that also explained a lot for Gabby, and kept her from being contradictory, or having a double standard, which could have been easy to assume.

In the end, I enjoyed reading about Gabby and Justin. They’re perfect together, and just work. It’s nice to read a relatively light story that still has substance and covers important issues. I’ll definitely be reading more of Ms. Steven’s books.

LimecelloGrade: B-

The line between friends and lovers can get a little blurry…especially when you add tequila. A Chances Are story.

Gabby is serious about her search for Mr. Right, but no one can say she hasn’t had a good time looking. She enjoys her numerous dates and the sex that comes with them. Until she finds herself falling for the one man she vows to never love. Her best friend and roommate, Justin. A player in every sense of the word—and a reminder of her awful past.

One night, with the help of a bottle of tequila, things get a little too hot for comfort. She moves out, intent on removing him from the line of temptation.

Justin has different plans. The tequila did more than just change how he sees his good friend. It made him realize he doesn’t want to be just friends any more. He’s ready for something more intimate, and he’ll do whatever it takes to find out why she’s running. And convince her to stay.

Read an excerpt here.