The Friendship Pact
by Jill Shalvis
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Book #2 in the Sunrise Cove series
Number of pages: 384
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Ages 15 and up
CW: child abuse, PTSD
Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.
Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.
But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.
Whew! This story is emotional and fun and lovely all at the same time. Tae and Riggs are fire together and their first time seeing one another since they were teens starts off as a sort of meet (again) cute and winds up going off the rails. In an intense and scary way, but it all ends up good.
Even when Tae get frustrating with her very linear thinking, she always remains a sympathetic character. It’s easy for the reader to see where Tae is coming from and why she reacts to things the way she does. Tae has been an adult since before she was a teenager. Her mom, April, is wonderful and loving. But she was a baby raising a baby and made some missteps along the way. For her part, April is now trying to set Tae free. In hindsight she is able to see the things how she should have done thing differently and wants Tae to live the life she wants instead of the life she feels she needs to live in order to keep control.
Riggs has his own issues. A lot of his own issues. He’s only back in his hometown because of a promise he made to his brother, and he’s only there for the summer. Running into Tae and then finding out she works hand in hand with the company he owns with his brother is a shock. Tae is the one Riggs let get away. He hurt her but has never forgotten her, and vice versa. These two have a lot to work out. Not only for their second-chance romance, but also as adults that have to figure out what they really want to do with the rest of their lives.
In all this is Tae’s search for her birth father, who she thought had died before she was born. It adds a whole other element to this story that really deepens the readers connection to the characters. It hurt my heart when Tae would run into people in town who didn’t have great memories of her teen years. The way they acted as though a person cannot change and weren’t willing to help her or give her the benefit of the doubt was infuriating. I love that Riggs stood by her back in the day and continues to stand by her now.
I love this story. I love the romance. I love the familial relationships and the growth in those areas. I love the representation of athletes with disabilities. I love the outreach to the community children who are less privileged. This is a wonderful story all around.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**