cover image Almost Just Friends

Almost Just Friends

Jill Shalvis. Morrow, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-289780-0

Shalvis (The Lemon Sisters) unites two people healing from emotional trauma in this tender contemporary. EMT Piper Manning is reluctantly celebrating her 30th birthday at a bar in her hometown of Wildstone, Calif., when she meets her neighbor’s 32-year-old son, Cam Hayes, a DEA agent. The attraction between them ignites during a particularly stormy night, but Piper is reluctant to let anyone get too close to her. After her parents died, she raised her younger siblings, Winnie and Gavin; they’ve recently moved out and she’s ready to live life on her own terms. Cam is also reeling from his younger brother’s recent death and not sure how to connect with civilians. Then Piper’s siblings come back home, seeking comfort from their sister but reluctant to admit the ways their lives have fallen apart. Piper’s relationship with Cam heats up, but she’s afraid that coming to rely on him will further hamper her quest for independence. Believable, realistic characters are at the heart of this novel. Shalvis will immediately grab the reader’s attention with a strong heroine and caring connection between two wounded souls. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Feb.)