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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

‘Her Best Friend’ by Sarah Mayberry

From the BLURB:

What’s a girl to do when she’s secretly in love with a friend and he’s married to someone else? She gets over it. That’s what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of attraction, she’s taken the smart route. She’s eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits. And, you know, it’s working.

Until the day Quinn announces he’s now single. That’s right. He’s single. And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be.

Oh, this is so not good for Amy’s equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he’s free...and she’s free...well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions.

Amy Parker is about to fulfil her childhood dream of owning Daylesford’s Grand Picture Theatre, that her grandfather built before she was born. There’s just one big bureaucratic hurdle she needs to jump through, and unfortunately her two best friends are just the lawyers to help her.

Lisa and Quinn Whitfield moved to Sydney after they got married, joining a big law firm and living the high-life in the city. Quinn and Amy grew up together, and Lisa joined their trio as a teenager, but eventually Lisa and Quinn became more than friends and now they’re one of those sickeningly sweet high school sweetheart couples. And Amy is happy for them, that they seem to have the perfect marriage and idyllic work/home life, even while she’s avoided talking to them for the last year … because Amy has been in love with Quinn since they were fourteen.

For years she waited for her best friend to notice her, and then Lisa came along and whisked a teenage Quinn off his feet with an itty-bitty red bikini.

Amy was happy that they were happy, and was even best man/bridesmaid at their wedding. But once they moved to Sydney she decided to edge them out of her life completely – let go of her doomed crush and the guilt she’d been feeling for lying by omission to her best friend.

But after one innocent phone-call to Quinn asking for advice with the Grand, next thing she knows he’s flying down to Melbourne and offering to spend his vacation days in Daylesford, helping her renovate the rundown place … because it turns out Quinn and Lisa’s idyllic life has been anything but, and they’re currently separated and heading for divorce.

Now Quinn is home, for four weeks, and single once again. Amy’s unrequited love might suddenly have a chance, if she’s willing to take it?

‘Her Best Friend’ is a 2010 Harlequin romance novel from Australian author Sarah Mayberry.

Sometimes when you’re in a reading-rut you turn to the old faithfuls for brain candy – Harlequin, Mills & Boon – and you go looking for your favourite story tropes. For me, it’s unrequited love stories and if it’s unrequited love stories between friends I go to my happy reading place. So when I recently found myself in a reading-rut I turned to Goodreads and Listopia to find my perfect book cure … which is how I found Sarah Mayberry and ‘Her Best Friend’.

First of all – what rock have I been living under that this is my first Sarah Mayberry read? This author is beloved in the romance community and the Australian romance community especially – she’s also been a scriptwriter for TV show ‘Neighbours’. After I read ‘Her Best Friend’ I bought a couple more Sarah Mayberry books and tore through all of them in a matter of days – I am now a full-fledged fangirl.

Part of the reason I love unrequited love stories is the immediate tension and emotional stakes for the characters – and because, outlandish as romance storylines can sometimes get, readers can all sympathise and understand the complications of loving someone who doesn’t love you back/know that you exist. It’s pretty easy for an author to get me hooked just with the premise of an unrequited love story, but Mayberry really had me rooting for Amy and getting emotionally invested in her story. When we meet her she is reluctantly calling on Quinn and Lisa for legal advice – and we learn the reason she’s been dodging phone-calls from her best friends ever since they moved to Sydney last year. In love with her best friend since the age of 14 and having to be best [wo]man at his wedding is about as painfully unrequited as it gets.

She was too afraid to find out there really was no hope. She preferred to live in a kind of never-never land where she could angst over Quinn but still indulge the fantasy that one day, maybe, if the moon and planets were all aligned, he might possibly return her feelings.

One potential downfall of the unrequited love story is loving the romantic underdog, but being frustrated or unconvinced of the person they’ve been mooning over for years. Not so with Quinn – and that’s partly because Mayberry ensured he had his own interesting emotional back-story and teased out his and Amy’s years of friendship. I completely understood why Amy was so invested in her love for Quinn, even after all these years, because he was a pretty great guy.

I also love Sarah Mayberry books because she’s damn funny. Injections of humours amongst all the emotional turmoil are always appreciated, and Mayberry has a particularly good funny bone:

“Is there somebody out there? Amy, is that you?” her mother called. 
“No. Tell me this isn’t happening.” Quinn rested his forehead against hers. “Has she got a wiretap on you or something? I swear, she’s like a walking hard-on detector.” 
Amy bit her lip, trying not to laugh. 
Quinn levered himself up on his arms.“Mrs. P., if you value your life, you’ll go back inside and turn off the light right now.” 

Since finishing ‘Her Best Friend’ I’ve read three more Mayberry books, and with all of them I find myself wishing for an extra five chapters or so … just because I so want to spend more time with her characters. I’ve definitely found a new go-to author for my romance reading cravings.


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