Review: Before the Sunset by Laura Pavlov (Cottonwood Cove #4)
Note: An advance reader copy (ARC) was provided by the author.
The fake relationship trope isn't one of my go-tos, but Laura Pavlov definitely puts her own spin to it in the fourth novel in her Cottonwood Cove series. With Before the Sunset, the author add is the element of a very real friendship between the main characters, Finn Reynolds and Reese Murphy. These two have been best friends since they were children, and now that they're on the cusp of turning thirty, life has presented a couple of challenges their way. Finn may be a successful actor with a popular series, but he's also got a female co-star spreading very nasty--and very false--rumors about him. On the other hand, Reese has just learned that her ex-fiancé has started a new relationship, and now she's feeling a bit lost. When Finn flies to London to be there for his girl, people mistakenly believe that "my girl" meant "girlfriend" in a romantic sense. With Reese ready to return to their hometown of Cottonwood Cove after a year away for work, she proposes...that they have a fake romantic relationship. That way, her ex sees she's moved on, and people will see that Finn is not the guy he's been portrayed to be by his lying castmate. This arrangement would benefit both Reese and Finn, without the usual, you know, "benefits". Except time spent under one roof, has them crossing lines they once swore that they never, ever would...
What happens when best friends decide to pretend they're in a romantic relationship when they've been nothing more than platonic from the moment they met? Well, things get kinda-sorta-maybe-totally complicated, but sometimes, it takes a different set of circumstances and living in the same house for two people to realize that there could be something more destined for them. I've been super curious as to what story awaited Finn and Reese ever since Laura Pavlov gave readers that tiny peek at the sort of friendship they shared in the previous Cottonwood Cove book, On the Shore. I loved how much these two meant to each other. They supported and trusted one another, and were willing to go above and beyond. When they crossed that proverbial line, they never stopped being friends, although let's be honest here, the sex and romance were aspects that muddled things a wee bit, and that's when niggling insecurities and doubts crept in. Both had their issues, but there was never any denying the love that they felt for each other. Once again, Pavlov delivers an entertaining and endearing addition to her latest series, which is why Before the Sunset easily gets 4.5 stars and has me eagerly awaiting the fifth and final installment.
Read my reviews for the Cottonwood Cove series:
Into the Tide (book one) - 4.5 stars - My Review
Under the Stars (book two) - five-plus stars - My Review
On the Shore (book three) - five stars - My Review
Before the Sunset (book four) - 4.5 stars - My Review (posted above)
Release Date: 21 September 2023
Date Read: 17 September 2023
Learn more about Laura Pavlov.
Purchase Before the Sunset on Amazon.