Life happens, whether we like it or not. In her latest novel, Almost Just Friends (William Morrow), Jill Shalvis teaches us how to make room in our crazy lives for love in all forms, and shows us what can happen when we choose to let love in. 

Piper Manning is a planner. As the caretaker for her two younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, she’s had to be. Making lists helped her stay in control and sane in a world where necessity and obligation often trumped desire. Now, with her siblings fully grown, it’s finally her turn. Or so she thinks. When Piper meets Camden Hayes on her birthday, she has to remind herself that not falling in love is at the top of her Life Rules list. Then her brother and sister return home with surprises of their own, and Piper has to wonder if her goal of earning her physician’s assistant degree will be forever out of reach. 

Not even Cam’s Special Forces training could have prepared him for Piper. Fiercely protective, loyal and smart, Piper is everything he wants and nothing he expects. After years away, he’s finally home and committed to a personal mission where failure isn’t an option. Still reeling from the loss of his brother, Cam digs in to help his father with the family business, but it’s not long before he’s flung into the center of the Manning family’s web of half-truths and is forced to keep secrets he never had any intention of keeping. Especially when the promises he makes have the potential to cause harm to the one person he never wants to hurt.

CHARACTERS THAT FEEL LIKE FAMILY

This novel is a prime example of Shalvis’ mastery in creating characters that feel like family. The connection between Cam and Piper is solid from the beginning, their chemistry easy and true, but the real gift of this novel is in Piper’s interactions with her siblings. The secondary plots, those involving Gavin and Winnie, are just as captivating as the scenes between Piper and Cam. I felt Gavin’s heartbreak as acutely as if it were my own and applauded Winnie’s determination to grow up and become the woman she was meant to be. The way their stories intertwine, and the anticipation of waiting for the Manning family’s secrets to be revealed, make this book hard to put down.

Shalvis earns the reader’s trust in Chapter One. Every character is complex, but every decision they make is true to form. I never had to guess how Piper would react because Shalvis introduced me to who she was at the beginning. Piper is as strong as Cam is confident and their scenes together are equal parts charming, electric and intensely intimate. The very best romances are the ones where even a one-word reply from a character can make your stomach flip; this technique, for me, is another one of Shalvis’ signatures. 

Almost Just Friends instills a sense of comfort and empathy in readers; its prevailing theme is one we can all relate to. No matter what life throws at you, there are some bonds that can’t be broken. And, bonus — reading the Manning’s story is guaranteed to make you want to pick up the phone and connect with the ones you love the most.

Almost Just Friends will be available for purchase beginning January 21.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN and iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 15 million copies of her books sold worldwide.