River and Owen have been the best of friends for years. When their college relationships with others didn’t work out for them, they made a pact to never sleep together so they would never lose their friendship. Except now, years later, their feelings are shifting. They both are attracted to one another and River and Owen wonder what it would be like to be together, but they are each too scared to say anything.
Now, they are on a road trip to visit friends and a snowstorm has them spending the night alone together in a secluded cabin. It’s cold outside, but the heat is on inside and it’s just a matter of time before one of them breaks.
The Bromance Zone starts a new series by Lauren Blakely with best friends River and Owen up first. The guys spend so much of their time together and there are most definitely feelings involved, but the pact they made has taken on a life of its own and neither will break it.
River appeared in Blakely’s Men of Summer series, as he became business partners with Grant. However, River seemed different here than how he was presented in that series. Grant and Declan from Men of Summer both appear here as well, and there are references made to that other series. I find that Blakely’s series often have a lot of references to previous books and sometimes there are so many side characters presented in her stories from other books that it becomes overwhelming.
This is a fairly standard friends-to-lovers book where neither guy has a clue the other has feelings for him. It took me some time to get into this book as River and Owen have a friendship that is so cloaked in inside jokes, it was difficult to feel part of their relationship. Even their friends comment that they don’t know what they are talking about sometimes. There is a lot of banter between the two of them, but a lot fell flat for me because of that.
There is a convenient set up to get them together and, once they cross their friendship lines, the story moves fast. I felt the story relied a lot on their history already in progress and less on character development to get a true sense of these guys. The scenes of them together are heated, but again, the chemistry relies on their friendship and they are then shown to be totally in sync in the bedroom as well.
Once River and Owen are with friends again, they slide right back into the banter between the two of them, making this just an okay read for me. TJ is their friend that gets the next book in the series and there is one chapter from his POV at the end that read as wedged in to set him up. I have read a few Lauren Blakely books now and there is some inconsistency to what I have enjoyed from her. However, this could certainly work better for a different reader.