Review: “Honestly Always You” by Melissa Frey

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 24th, 2021

Add to Goodreads | (Available on KU)

College student Mandy Carlson has everything she’s ever wanted: a handsome, successful boyfriend, solid future plans, and a possible marriage proposal in the near future. But when her plans are abruptly derailed, the wise-cracking Justin Stanford is there to make her smile. He even suggests they pretend to date so she can sort out her feelings in peace, and she agrees on one condition: They promise to always be honest with each other.

Justin has had his eye on Mandy since freshman year. When she needs a friend, he steps in and does the honorable thing, but he can’t help but think their easy conversation and flirty banter is hinting at something deeper between them. He just worries he can’t keep his promise while keeping his true feelings for her a secret.

As Mandy recovers from her life-changing graduation weekend, she realizes the feelings she’s been faking for Justin might be real. But can she figure out how to let him in without getting burned again?

This fake relationship, friends to lovers, unrequited love steamy romance with rom-com vibes and a touch of forced proximity is intended for mature readers 18+. This story takes place three years before the events in the Codex series.


Melissa Frey is a well-known resource for indie authors everywhere and to finally have a chance to read her first contemporary romance was very exciting for me – she’s written the Codex series which is a supernatural action-adventure series featuring characters we meet in this book!

After catching her boyfriend cheating on her at a party, Mandy is an absolute mess. She was expecting a proposal and a promise for forever, instead she got dumped after catching her ex post-sex with some random woman. Justin has been in love with Mandy from the distance for years, he’s been enamoured by her and pissed that someone like her ex ruined her when she deserved better. So when he happens to be at the ‘scene of the crime’, he offers to take Mandy home, not expecting her to make him an offer that he can’t quite comprehend – be her fake boyfriend for the weekend when her parents come for graduation.

Honestly Always You had two of my favourite tropes – fake dating and unrequited love – and two very interesting characters. Their personal lives are very different, but they have a lot in common when it comes to their educational and professional goals. Justin and Mandy aren’t complete opposites, but there’s a lot that they still need to learn about each other. And that is where their relationship starts to build. They’re drawn to each other – Justin moreso because of his long lasting crush on Mandy – but there’s a bond between them that is absolutely undeniable.

While the journey and the romance the characters go through together was definitely interesting, I did not feel the chemistry. They talk about it a lot, but as I was reading, I didn’t connect with their relationship and didn’t feel like they were going to end up together. I know that they do, because they’re in the Codex series as secondary characters (I know this from the blurb of the first book in that series), but their romance didn’t feel romantic to me. They felt like two really good friends with confusing feelings for each other and that affected my proper appreciation of the book. While the steamy scenes were super steamy, the other scenes didn’t work for me and I’m sad about that. However, Melissa writes really well and she pours a lot of her knowledge and her passion into the story, making it an interesting read.

Thanks to Melissa Frey for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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