I recently picked up a great indie romance, The Boyfriend Pact, by Sarah M Reed. Victoria hasn't been home to Winston Prairie, Georgia, in six years. And she probably wouldn't go back now, except her sister, Sophie, is getting married and her folks (who don't seem to love her as much as they love her sister) would never let her hear the end of it if she didn't show up. Years ago, she threw herself at her childhood best friend, Luke, and was spurned. Hurt, she hasn't spoken to him since...or he to her.
Now, she reluctantly leaves behind her two best friends in L.A. (Lexi and Michael) and heads home. There's no prodigal daughter welcome. Reed paints a (deliciously) frustrating picture of introverted Victoria's "black sheep" treatment...by her parents, her sister, even some of the locals seem to be almost amusedly, exasperatedly tolerant of her. The only person she genuinely feels is in her camp is Auntie Maureen, her ex-BFF's mother. Which is problematic, given she hasn't spoken to Luke in years.
When Michael shows up from L.A. and declare himself her boyfriend, family and friends are curious and interested. He's hot. He's charming. And he seems to only have eyes for their little wallflower, Vicky.
Tensions rise as Victoria notices a weird dynamic between Luke and Sophie. Sophie's marrying Logan Tyler, former high school linebacker, and all around great guy from a solid Winston Prairie family. But something's off with Sophie, and Victoria can't quite put her finger on it. Luke, meanwhile, is still standoffish, though he and Victoria try to mend fences over his awkward and harsh rejection of her with the intent of returning to the friendship they both missed.
Michael, oddly, seems overly jealous of any interaction she has with Luke. For a pretend boyfriend, he's sure acting like a real (jealous) one!
As wedding day grows closer, Michael's intention to accompany Victoria to the wedding is shattered by a crisis in his own large family, and he flies home to Boston. Victoria remains behind in Winston Prairie out of obligation to her sister, but her heart is with Michael in Boston.
She causes quite a stir when she ditches Winston Prairie to follow Michael...at Sophie's urging! The one person she expected to freak out practically shoves her out the door!
It is in Boston that things get rocky for Michael and Victoria. They'd crossed over into "real boyfriend, real girlfriend" territory in Georgia, and now that bond is put to the test by Michael's family crisis and the crushing grief he's revisiting. Suffering, he lashes out at Victoria, pushing her away when he needs her the most.
Victoria flees back to Georgia, stopping in Atlanta for a good night's rest before returning to Winston Prairie...and discovers a shocking revelation that, ultimately, threatens to unravel whatever remains of her newfound relationship with Michael.
If you like small town romance and friends-to-lovers stories, you will want to pick up The Boyfriend Pact!
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