Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU
Free On KU

Other Girls by Avery Brooks


The title and the cover almost made us think that this is a paranormal story, but it turns out that this is amongst the best enemies-to-lovers books we’ve read.

Samantha (Sam) Parker is a hardworking single mom of five-year-old Jake. Once happily married to the love of her life, Anna, Sam has not been able to fully move on or date since losing her wife three years back. Sam’s fairly contented life is shaken when she runs into Ashley (Ash) Valence, a horror from her high school days. During high school Ash was one of the group of ‘cool’ girls who delighted in tormenting and humiliating Sam on a daily basis. Though not the leader, Ash was nevertheless an equal participant in the endless bullying. Ash’s reappearance triggers nightmares in Sam and it gets worse when Sam seems to bump into Ash regularly. When Ash joins Sam’s softball team, everything spells disaster.

The synopsis is a bare bones skeleton of a book which is much more than just that. Make no mistake, the romance is there with absolutely and totally sizzling chemistry. The high-school-bully with unacknowledged and unmentioned teen attraction towards the bullied was also excellently used in Sarah Sanders' Bad Blood.

Within the structure of the unfolding romance, the author gives excellent depth to the characters. Ash’s background, her teen struggles and adult regrets make her a well-rounded three-dimensional person. But it is with Sam that Brooks has masterfully captured complexities. Without belabouring the point, Brooks effectively communicates the rather heartbreaking reality of the impact of bullying on a person via Sam’s self-preserving closed-off-ness and her passive acceptance of blatant unfairness in her workplace. (On a side note, the scene where Sam’s boss says she is surprised that Sam lasted so long explaining that Sam deserved much better? It totally reflects the infuriating real-world scenario where the boss sees injustice but chooses to let a good person and good worker be exploited instead of sticking their neck out and setting it right.) Another point (which may not have been intended) that the book raises is about the role of schools, parents and friends in case someone is being bullied. There are no good answers to that one, but it is something that needs to be thught about.

We loved the scenario that when Sam leaves her job to branch out on her own, clients and colleagues move with her. We'd loved it even in Begin Again and wish this kind of justice is found more in the real world. Good work done with passion and integrity deserve to be recognised and rewarded, like, always.

Though we are not great fans of conflicts, the fight between the two MCs in this one is so necessary to their relationship. Both speak unpalatable, hard truths about the other which are likely to only come up during a fight (else, they are things that would lead to a fight). What makes the fight effective, really, is the way the ladies handle the aftermath. The resolution conversation later is honest, but what bubbles on top is the love that they have of each other which makes them not only willing, but actively working on their relationship. That makes us completely believe in their HEA.

This book is unreservedly recommended.

One small peeve: all through the book we kept waiting and waiting for Ash to confess her high school crush on Sam to the latter, but sadly, it never came. 


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