Review: The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins

girl next doorReviewed by Janell

I loved the first book in this series. The second book wasn’t quite for me, because I had issues with one of the characters, and I’m also not a fan of the reunited lovers trope. This is the third book, which acts more like a sequel to the first book, since those characters have quite a lot of screen time in this book. Also, these main characters, Cash and Steph, met in the first book. Do you need to read Off Campus first? No. But will you like it? Of course.

Cash and Steph first met when their best friends started sleeping together. Cash is a very queer-friendly straight man, and Steph is bisexual. They had a friends with benefits thing going on in college, but it ended when Steph got serious with another woman. As this story opens, they are a few years out of college and Cash and Steph haven’t spoken in a while.

Cash grew up with New England wealth, and he was handed a job at his father’s company. However, he never felt like he knew what he was doing, and he definitely wasn’t helping anyone, so he headed off to Chicago to teach after-school sports to underprivileged kids. When Cash’s teenage cousin shows up on his doorstep, unsure about how to be a gay man at home, Cash calls in all his gay friends to help him give advice.

I have conflicting feelings about this book. Cash is a good guy. He works with kids, he wants to help them succeed, so he looks out for their health, welfare, and nutrition. He’s also more of an emotional guy than an intellectual genius, so he connects better with people through hugging than through words. He’s willing to learn from his mistakes.

Cash is also slightly obsessed with his prostate gland. He narrates how Reese, from the first book, “educated him, in explicit, elaborate detail, about the pleasure of the prostate.” After that, random sorority girls seemed too vanilla for him. Steph, back in the day, was the most adventurous bed partner he ever had. Cash is the sole narrator, and he spent a lot of time, in my opinion, thinking about all the crazy things Steph used to do to him.

When Steph comes back into Cash’s life, to help mentor his cousin, she and Cash quickly fall back into casual sex. She’s very insistent on things remaining casual, so no sleepovers, no every night, no intimate talk unless it’s about sex. Cash respects that, because he’s getting everything he ever wanted, although he soon realizes that Steph is all he’s ever going to want.

Back to my conflicting feelings. The social issues and character development were fine. But I was annoyed by two things. First, I couldn’t keep track of how much time had passed because the narration would skip forward, and then Cash would talk about what had happened during all the time that passed. It happened frequently enough to bother me, and I wished the story could have played out more linearly.

Second, for all of Cash’s talk about his prostate and the “magic button”? There wasn’t an actual scene of him receiving that pleasure. There was talk of Steph’s drawer of toys, but no onscreen use of them. The craziest thing they did was have sex in public. Well, okay, the craziest thing they did was have a threesome at the end, but that was after a whole book of big talk and no action. I have thoughts on the threesome that would double the length of this review, so I’ll just say that it’s not my thing, but it was handled well.

I don’t want to sound like I was reading this just to see Cash get some back door action, but it felt like a tease not to see it, because so much of this book is Cash (and Steph and Reese) talking about wild sex. Overall I’m kind of meh. The romance was hard to track, because Steph held Cash back for so long, and he jumped around in his narration. It felt very much like sex leading to love. And maybe that’s a book that will work for you.

Rating: C+/B-

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Girl Next Door
by Amy Jo Cousins
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Samhain

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