Review: The Girl Next Door, by Amy Jo Cousins


cover-amyjocousins-thegirlnextdoorWhen it comes to love, go big or go home.

Charles “Cash” Carmichael traded his high-rise condo and family-firm career for a job coaching soccer for Chicago’s inner-city kids. He’s adjusting to living on minimum wage when his young cousin, newly out and running away from home, shows up on his less-than-luxurious doorstep.

Angsty teens definitely aren’t Cash’s thing. He needs local backup, and there’s only one name he can think of: Stephany Tyler. Back in the day, the bisexual Steph was the perfect friend with benefits until she fell in love with a woman.

To his relief, his former friend steps up to the plate. Soon, though, Cash finds himself feeling the familiar need to keep her in his bed, and in his life. But Steph, burned by the ex-girlfriend and by the absentee dad she’s been trying to connect with, won’t risk her heart again.

Good thing Cash believes in leaving it all on the field. If he can just convince Steph to get in the game, there’s a chance they can both win.


Dates read:
Edition read:
June 16, 2015
Samhain Publishing
Contemporary, Bisexual-M/F, GLBT+
248 e-book pages
3rd person
Bend or Break, book 3
March 24-28, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I’ve had so much fun reading this series, and this book was a fantastic addition.

Cash – what a darling! He is absolutely one of the best friends to have, and I’ve adored him like a Golden Retriever puppy since book one. He looks, speaks, acts (sometimes) like the stereotypical jock. And sometimes…he’s a little dense. But his loyalty to his friends is nearly unparalleled as the guy who loves everyone for who they are. He’s the most open minded, least judgmental straight jock and person I believe I’ve ever read. He’s kind, thoughtful, funny, has a great sense of humor, and his observations and thought processes were often hilarious and heartwarming. He just always wants to do the right thing. AND HE WORKS WITH KIDS! Just adorable. I want him — as a pal would be cool with me. But if he had a [ahem] much older brother of a like mind I’d take that, too.

There was a lot about this book that breaks away from the traditional romance making this super interesting.

This book is sort of M/F in a middle of a GLBT series. I say sort of because it IS absolutely GLBT as Stephany is bisexual. Just so happens that she ends up in a relationship with a straight man.

It was awesome that Cash never once fell into the usual (horrible) concerns over her ability to commit because of her sexuality. Cash just doesn’t work that way. Instead, he was too busy trying to figure out what would make her commit at all when she was intent on being friends with benefits and keeping him at arm’s length for other reasons.

Looking at this from the angle of M/F, though, it takes a twist from “traditional” since it’s told entirely from Cash’s point of view. This is HIS journey sorting through life’s ups and downs, figuring out what he wants, experiencing some angst, getting the girl, etc. where most often we get M/F entirely from the female point of view.

Frankly, reading through typically vapid, helpless female POVs looking for a man to rescue them is one of the biggest reasons I rarely read M/F romance these days. It got to be an endless frustration of searching for strong, unapologetic, intelligent women who didn’t need saving by an Alpha, possessive, kinky billionaire Navy SEAL with commitment and/or traumatic childhood issues of his own.

So, as huge departure from typical M/F romance, this was refreshing for the book to be in Cash’s perspective. How much he wants and adores Stephany for all that she is, hoping that everything he does shows her he’s the one for her instead of scaring her away.

Also, that Stephany IS that strong female — well educated, knows herself, unapologetic for her sexual orientation, desires, and experiences and doesn’t need a rescue—just good friends. She can take care of herself but knows when to ask for help.

There were only two things that bugged me a little bit.

Stephany is plagued by Daddy Issues that hold her back from acknowledging her feelings. I’m a little worn out by this in books. There’s nothing wrong with a woman (or anyone) who simply doesn’t want a relationship but instead enjoys the freedom of simply dating and having an active sex life. There doesn’t always need to be some Awful Reason for justification.

There really aren’t that many scenes where Stephany is present. When she’s there, they’re on fire together with fun, laughter, intimacy, and hot sex. But, through Cash’s journey of getting the girl, she’s absent from a lot of it. Maybe I’m being my usual greedy self, but I just wanted more of her.

Those are minor dislikes in a book with so many, many things to love.

This series is shaping up to be full of amazing friendships lasting beyond college. The kind of friends who come when you call and rally around when needed — often going the extra mile just because that’s who they are.

I loved how we got a few visits with Tom and Reese whose story kicked off the series. I’d missed them.

Oh! And I can’t leave without mentioning the threesome scene that…WHEW! It didn’t pan out the way I expected but was fuckin’ scorching. The twists it took were a nifty surprise.

Overall this was another great addition to the series and not to be missed.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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