Shayna Gillan is on a mission: start fresh in a new state without the small town gossip that has haunted her since her bad girl days of high school.
Carter MacPherson has long been the most together member of his crazy family—until now. With a secret threatening to crumble everything hes worked for, he wishes he could forget the recent past, too.
The last thing Shayna and Carter are looking for is a relationship. Its best to be alone while they sort out their issues.
Friends. Thats all they can ever be.
But even the best laid plans always have a flaw, and once Shayna and Carter cross the line between friendship and more, theres no turning back
The only question left is—whose past will catch up to them first?
Meet Shayna and Carter: two lovely, lovely characters previously mentioned in Grounding Quinn. Shayna is a pastors daughter whos never really fit in with her family. Always the odd one out, Shaynas taken matter into her own hands and rebelled in her own way basically disrupting the clean-cut pastors daughter image expected of her. Alcohol, drugs, meaningless sextheyre all part of her downward spiral. Shaynas next target? Her best friends older brother.
Carter has secrets of his own. Absentee parents, crazy childhoodyou name it. While home for the holiday, Carter connects with his little sisters best friend. Shes beautiful, sexy, vulnerable and in high school. And he wants her. Bad. But hes a hiding some stuff and he doesnt want to bring her down. So he rejects her.
Pissed and partly drunk, Shayna stumbles home only to discover a secret that will change the course of her life for the next few months. Fast forward eight months and Shaynas done. Finished. She cant keep pretending anymore. So she runs right into Carter.
Shaynas situation is one that I felt sympathy for. Shes just discovered her parents are not exactly who she always thought they were and shes wounded. So she drives halfway around the country only to discover Carter is now living in Quinns old apartment. I can understand where Shaynas coming from, but I had a little trouble connecting with her. The explanations given for her previous behavior felt a little off for me. Honestly, I felt like Shayna lacked a little depth. Then theres Carter, who I really liked. Hes the protective older brother and I loved reading his chapters. However, I also felt like the reasons for keeping his secret were not that good.
I am all for sexual chemistry. Give me two characters who are just dying to jump each other and I am a happy gal. Shayna and Carter have spent the past year texting and flirting with each other from afar, but they havent really given much of themselves to each other. They basically get together two days after they havent seen each other in months and for some reason, I couldnt get behind it at all. Their romance is sweet and you can definitely tell that Carter cares for Shaynaeven before they get togetherbut I felt like it was rushed. Everything happens so fast in the beginning that Im kind of left with a whiplash. That depth that I was talking abouttheres room for a lot more.
Towards the end, you learn the reasons why they kept the secrets they did for so long, so you start to understand a bit more. And as the story progresses, more things come to the surface to tie up loose ends. I still believe there was room for some more character development, but by the end of the novel youre left with a smile on your face.
If youre looking for a short, sweet read, Friend is a Four Letter Word is just the book for you.
Seven months. That’s how long I’ve been in this relationship, for lack of a better word.
You know, if I were the type of girl that kept track of those types of things, that is.
It’s not like I know how long we’ve been dating because it’s been seven months of bliss and I cherished each and every day. It’s not like I’ve been counting down, excited at the prospect of ending up in this swanky restaurant, hoping that he remembers what a special day this is, too.
Or better, that he has some expensive gift tucked away in his crisp, well-tailored pants.
Nope. I know this is my seven month anniversary because it was a reminder from my mother before I left this evening.
“Shayna, that boy may have something up his sleeve for tonight, and you’d better be ready for it!” she’d said.
“Like what? Bowling instead of fencing?” I asked with a sigh I quickly disguised. Operation Perfect Daughter was stretching into another grueling month. I knew I was doing it for all the best, noblest reasons, but I sometimes doubted Navy Seals went through this kind of endurance testing.
Mom pulled the pin from my hair, letting the long blonde strands fall loose. “You look better with your hair down. And no. Tonight is your anniversary, or did you forget?” She fluffed my hair with her fingers and looked at me in that dreamy way that let me know she wouldn’t really be listening to anything I said.
“Anniversary of what? Selling my soul?” I griped. I would have felt guilty if she looked crushed, but Mom didn’t even flinch. In fact, she smiled like it was some kind of funny joke.
“No, of dating Nolan,” Mom scoffed, shaking her head and tugging playfully on my hair.
“Oh, so sort of the same thing,” I mumbled. No matter how much my parents have tried to change me, the one thing they haven’t been able to work the kinks out of my snark.
“Don’t mumble, Shayna,” my mother sing-songed. “And put on a different dress. This could be a special night, and you’ll want to remember it as such. That dress won’t do.” She picked at the skirt of my perfectly fine floral print sundress and frowned.
My mom’s presence always made me feel like I was living in a different century.
“How long has it been?” I asked, swirling the brush into my bronzer and not meeting Mom’s stare.
“You mean you don’t know?” Mom looked at me in the mirror, her eyes trying to search mine so she could gauge whether or not I was kidding.
“Can’t say that I do,” I said evenly. I really had no idea. It hasn’t been a whirlwind romance. In fact, it was sort of been the opposite.
My mom sighed dramatically and shook her head like she was going to chalk it all up to me being so twitter pated in love or something. “Seven months. In my day, seven months was definitely long enough to hope for a….proposal.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively, and I put on way too much makeup, trying to concentrate on not deliberately gouging my eyes out.
Perfect daughters do not use their makeup tools to show how their spirits are being crushed.
My parent’s set me up with Nolan to help curb my wild behavior, but if I scored a ring out of it, that’d just a bonus for them. A big bonus. They’d finally feel like they could ease up on me a little. That I’d be safe.
I tried to keep my breaths even, to not let on that the thought of a proposal made me want to hurl into my vanity drawer.
The only thing that calmed me enough to walk out the door was the sight of my phone illuminating next to my makeup bag. A text from Carter, just saying hi.
I’d found his number in my car on Christmas morning. He’d left it with a note saying to call anytime. We may not have properly said good-bye on that night months ago, but we started texting back and forth often. We never said much, just a joke, a good morning, a picture of the ocean while he rested on the beach next to his surfboard.
And those things were enough to make me smile.
To make me feel a little less alone in this crazy charade I was living.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steph Campbell grew up in Southern California, but now calls the Northeast home. She has one husband, four children and a serious nail polish obsession. Shes repped by Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
Stephs works include Delicate, Grounding Quinn and Beautiful Things Never Last; My Heart for Yours and My Fate for Yours (with Jolene Perry); A Toast to the Good Times (with Liz Reinhardt) and the bestselling new adult LENGTHS series with Liz Reinhardt.