This is the same column formerly known as “Conversations Over Coffee.” After running a few weekly pieces, Frolic and I realized that the title doesn’t do justice to my style of writing, my intent, or what I cover. After much thought and many emails back and forth, Frolic and I have decided upon the new title “The Heart of the Story,” because really what I try to do in every review is reveal the essence of the book, what is really at stake, and how the book delivers its promise…and along the way, how it warms my heart and soul.
Best Friends, Secret Lovers by Jessica Lemmon is a sweet, hot story between college friends who impulsively share a kiss on Valentine’s Day that sends shockwaves in their relationship.
Sabrina Douglas has been Flynn Parker’s best friend since college. They cannot recall a time when they had not shared their thoughts and time with each other. Along with Gage and Reid, the four of them have been an inseparable quartet, especially now that they all work for Monarch Consulting, a management consultancy firm.
But it is with Sabrina that Flynn feels most like himself, and likewise for Sabrina — they’re attuned to each other’s thoughts and feelings. It is a friendship that has sustained them through various changes in their lives, large and small. For three years, while Flynn was married to Veronica, their friendship had somehow stumbled along, but now that Flynn is divorced, Sabrina and Flynn are back in each other’s lives stronger than before. And he is desperately holding on to her generous, empathetic, sunshiny nature to avoid drowning.
After his father’s death, Flynn takes over Monarch, but it is a daily uphill battle. His father was an old-fashioned autocrat with antiquated ideas. On the other hand, Flynn wants to bring the company into the twenty-first century and his senior staff is resisting all the way. They like how things were and it grates unbearably on Flynn that despite being the one in power, he is helpless to implement things his gut leads him to believe is the right approach.
His domineering father’s death and Veronica’s cheating with his older brother have gutted Flynn. He exists in a vacuum devoid of finer emotions. In trying to manage his feelings and the company, Flynn has become more and more distant and controlled and controlling – in fact, becoming more like the father he had disliked. He is so far from being happy, he does not even recognize himself. After one shouting match in a meeting, Sabrina decides to run interference and compel him to take a hiatus from the company effective immediately.
The first day of his imposed vacation is Valentine’s Day, and after a fun high caloric breakfast where they compare their dating lives, they discover that this is the first time neither of them is dating anyone. With that thought buzzing in their heads as they walk out, Flynn, on a mad impulse, kisses Sabrina. Life has suddenly taken a hard right turn and they find themselves unmoored and unable to right their ship.
Neither of them wants to jeopardize their friendship, but neither can they resist the siren call of love. Will they be able to navigate the complex twists and turns of a sexual relationship with a friendship and a working relationship? Are they going to be roommates with benefits? Or are they going to deal with the growing loving feelings they have for each other? Lemmon skillfully shows how a person can attempt to compartmentalize and prioritize their life, but love is a leveler of all walls, and eventually, you surrender to it and emerge, phoenix-like, stronger and more capable than before.