Review: “Next to You” by Hannah Bonam-Young

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: November 29th, 2022

Add to Goodreads | Amazon.in (Available on KU)

CW: car accident and death of a parent (past), anxiety, ptsd and grief (on page) and mentions of agoraphobia

Lane is in the middle of an identity crisis. Her friends are all partnered up, her career is leading nowhere, and simply put? She’s not happy. So after a night out celebrating (drinking) on her birthday she makes one hell of an impulsive purchase. A giant, yellow, forty-eight passenger school bus that she intends to make a home.

With little-to-no renovation experience but a large sum of inheritance money, Lane enlists the help of her friend Matt—a mechanic by trade, handyman by practice, and hottie by nature.

While their mutual attraction is undeniable, Matt and Lane have silently agreed that a friendship is the only thing that could ever exist between them. Matt’s a total family guy with “settle down with me” tattooed across his forehead whereas Lane is entirely commitment-averse.

So, when Matt offers to help her with the bus and in the bedroom with no strings attached, Lane’s feelings evolve faster than you can say “just good friends.” But she soon discovers that in order to build something new, she has to first heal her past.

 

Hannah Bonam-Young is one of those writers that could probably write a book about what goes into making paper, and it would still be the best thing ever written. I read and loved Next of Kin earlier this year, so obviously I knew I was going to love this one as well. And, I already love all of the stories she hasn’t written yet. I’m just waiting for them to appear in my hands. This book tackles grief in a very interesting way, without pussyfooting around the topic, but also handling it gently and beautifully. I am always wary of reading books where grief plays a big part, but there are some authors that I trust to do it right and Hannah is one of them.

In Next to You, you’ll find:

✨ strangers to friends to lovers

✨ he falls first

✨ opposites attract

✨ a bisexual purple/pink haired heroine

✨ a samoan kind hearted hero

✨ an amazing friends group

✨ the renovation and refurbishment of a school bus

✨ mental health rep

✨ incredible family scenes

“Are you flirting with me?” I ask. 

His soft, single laugh surprises me. “For over a year now. Thanks for noticing.”

There was so much that was wonderful about this book and I feel like saying too much takes away from the main point of this story—you deserve to love yourself and someone else even when things are really hard. It’s a story about forgiving yourself, a story about growth and a story about accepting help even when you sometimes think you don’t need it. Next to You is 100% a romance, but it’s also a story about second chances in life. It’s about accepting and moving forward, about learning and growing from it and at the end of it all, it’s about believing that you deserve good things all the time.

Lane and Matt were so wonderful. Told entirely from Lane’s perspective, this book really takes you on a rollercoaster of her grief, her anxiety, her struggles and her life. She’s a complex and complicated woman, but those are the things that really make her incredible. I loved how despite her constant need to shut herself away, her friends are always there for her. In life, that’s all we all want—someone to give a shit even when we’re falling apart. Lane’s impulsiveness and her brashness, but her honesty and her kind heart are all things you can’t help but love about her.

“God, Lane, you’re going to eat me alive.” His hazy, flustered laugh is the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard. 

“Problem?” I ask, tugging his lip between my teeth. 

“No. Destroy me if you must.”

Unlike with the first book, I do wish we got to see some of the story through Matt’s perspective. Simply because the man is beautiful. Seeing him through Lane’s eyes is definitely a treat, but the world he comes from, the love he is surrounded by and the love he has to offer are some of my favourite things about the character. He’s big and imposing, but also soft and kind hearted and when you put all those things together, you make up a pretty incredible character.

This book is filled with heart, with love, with friendship and familial love. It’s filled with banter and chemistry and sexual tension and desire and lust and romantic, platonic, spiritual, emotional and even physical love. It’s all of the things all of the time in one place. And you’d be a fool not to add it to your TBR.

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

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