Leaving home to go to university is an exciting phase in anyone's life. One that's full of new places, new friends, and new experiences. But Lewis is not prepared for the sudden and intense crush he develops on his out-and-proud flatmate, Max - given that Lewis had always assumed he was straight. Max starts dating another guy, and Lewis' jealousy at seeing them together forces him to confront his growing attraction. When Max's relationship goes awry, Lewis is the one to comfort him, and one thing leads to another. But after a night together, Lewis is devastated that Max wants to go back to being just friends. Lewis tries his best to move on, and their friendship survives, but the feelings he has for Max don't go away. He faces other challenges as he deals with coming out to his parents and needs Max's support more than ever. But Lewis isn't the only one who's conflicted. When Max finally admits he cares for Lewis, too, Lewis must decide whether he dares risk his heart again on being more than just friends.
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Lewis is excited. For the first time, he leaves home. He is going to college, where he will share a flat with other guys and have to take care of himself. He knows, this will be a whole new experience and he looks forward to it. But life has more surprises in stock for him than new friends, parties and new knowledge from his college courses. One of his roommates is Max. An out and proud, handsome young man, with a sad past and a sparkling personality, that seems the complete opposite of collected Lewis. Still, they become fast friends and Max makes Lewis come out of his shell. But Lewis soon notices, that it isn’t just friendship he feels for Max. He wants him – as lover and boyfriend. When Max’ boyfriend cheats on him, he and Lewis, land after a lot of wine and comfort food, in bed together. But the next day, Max tells Lewis, he doesn’t want to risk their friendship, with a rebound. Their attraction to each other is strong. Even so, they both try to make it work as friends, even if Lewis still wants more. Then a trip home brings Lewis news, that make him need Max’ friendship more then ever, but also strenghten his wish for love and closeness. Maybe he has to move on? “Not Just Friends” written by Jay Northcote and narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies is a sweet “Friends to lovers” romance, told to us from the POV of Lewis – a young man, who leaves home for the first time, to go to college and has suddenly more on his plate than figuring out his new courses and taking care of himself for the first time. Lewis always thought he was straight, but his new best friend Max fascinates him so much. Even Lewis’ ex-girlfriend never evoked such strong feelings in him. And a night in Max Arms, gives him hope, that Max feels the same. But these two have some more hurdles to overcome, before they can find their happiness together.
The Story starts with introducing Lewis, his family and his new flatmates. And just like Lewis’, the listeners calm gets shaken up, with Max’ arrival in the flat, he and Lewis will share with three other boys. Max’ is sparkling, catches your attention and you just want to get to know him. From the second, he was part of the story, I was completely drawn in. Just like Lewis was. Even if they seem like complete opposites, the two young men fit and their friendship was fast but very believable. You could see, what Lewis’ sees in Max, even in the moments Max hurts him. Max is never malicious or selfish. He just has fears and lived trough a lot of pain. Max also makes Lews go out, take chances and embrace life. He brings color and fun, to shy and collected Lewis and deeply cares for his friend. But Max also confuses Lewis. So much. Jay Northcotes writing gives you a lot of insight in Lewis feelings and thoughts. So you can’t help but feel with him. His forementioned confusion, his yearning and pining, his heartbreak and the love he feels for Max. The story completely sucks you in. Matthew Lloyd Davies narration catches you and he gives the characters life and their own voice. He fitted the story perfectly. Often I just wanted to hug Lewis’ and tell Max that getting a boyfriend, doesn’t have to mean losing a best friend. With Lewis’ words: “Can’t you be both?”. To be so drawn into an audiobook, both the writing and narration have to be exquisite and for me “Not Just Friends” had both. If you love catching and sweet “Friends to Lovers”-Stories, search no more. You just found a perfect companion for a few hours, well spent in the flat of some cute college boys.
Lewis is 18 and just starting University where he meets Max, one of his dorm mates. Max is out and proud and gets Lewis thinking that he may be something other than straight.
At first Lewis fights his attraction to Max, but it isn’t long before he begins to acknowledge that the feeling he’s experiencing watching Max hook-up with other guys is jealousy. After a sad break-up one night, the two get drunk and mess around. Lewis is ready to go all in after that; admit he’s gay, admit he likes Max, everything, but Max is on the rebound and isn’t ready to “break in” a new boyfriend, especially since Lewis is new to being gay and they live together.
Lewis is heartbroken, but admits it makes a bit of sense. Moving on, Lewis begins to explore his newfound sexuality by telling his family, friends, joining the LGBT group at school and even dating.
As the semester goes on, Lewis discovers more about himself and Max does, too. They have some hurdles to overcome, but in the end we see a very HFN (or HEA depending on how you look at it.)
This was another sweet, wonderful book by Jay Northcote. It’s told in a way that seems very natural and realistic. Lewis isn’t hung up about finding out he’s gay – he’s reluctant at first, only because he’d had a girlfriend in High School, but it doesn’t take much in the experimenting phase for him to admit his preference. Lewis’ family is essentially pretty supportive as are his friends.
Max is a fairly easy going, very open gay man, who is really just following his heart. He doesn’t have any terrible, dark secrets keeping him from loving, just normal life-is-never-perfect stuff that gives him some substance.
When all is said and done, the really nice thing about this story is that it ends up being more about the love story than a “gay” love story.
I really like Matthew Lloyd Davies. I think it’s important for these British books to be read in a British accent and Matthew has a lovely one!
I highly recommend the story and the audiobook; 5 of 5 hearts.