⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 Stars)
This is probably a 3.5 stars book, but I bumped it to 4 because I really loved the first half.
This is my first book in the Tough Love Series, so I wasn’t too aware of the other characters and their stories. However, I don’t think this was an issue when reading this book.
We start with Lucas receiving some bad news, he has a threatening condition that purposely stays hidden at the beginning of the book, and because of it, he has sworn off love. But Lucas has been having strong feelings for his friend Elodie for a while. Their mutual connection is deep and he needs a strong resolve to remain strictly friends.
Elodie is a beautiful woman that is smart, funny and an all-time badass. She comes from a very powerful french family, but when her family asks her to marry someone to complete a business deal Elodie rebels and decides to forge her life on her own. She has a serious crush on Lucas, but can’t understand why he always keeps her at bay.
The first half of the book is interesting and captivating. Lucas and Elodie’s chemistry is off the charts and the mystery of Lucas’ condition makes the plot addictive. Even the revelation is a nice surprise that was nothing I was expecting.
Unfortunately, after that, the book takes a bit of a turn and things get somewhat repetitive. The issue with Elodie added an extra layer of drama that didn’t service the story, and what could have been a plot about both overcoming struggles together became a bit unattached. And, in other parts just way too sweet (is that a thing?), maybe I just wasn’t a fan of Loulou as a nickname for Lucas…
But, even though I wish the story could have maintained the same level of energy from beginning to end, I still absolutely enjoyed getting to know Lucas and Elodie’s story. I like romance novels that focus on independent and smart characters and Strictly Friends is a great example of that. I’m now curious about the previous books I missed in this series.
Thank you, Chloe Liese, for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.