The Anti-Relationship Year: A Friends to Lovers Romance (The Pact) by Katie Wismer
A New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel published by Ahimsa Press (03/30/21)
“Just tell me this isn’t going to ruin everything,” she whispered. “Tell me this isn’t a bad idea.” Katie Wismer. The Anti-Relationship Year (Kindle Locations 2870-2871).
Johanna is a fresh-faced freshman – ready to take on the world of college. Jo meets Grey the first time she and her party-ready roommates and some of the boys from across the hall go to a local club. Jo can’t ignore or say no to his allure. Three years later, Jo is starting her senior year. The boy from across the hall, Miller, has been her best friend. He’s seen her ups and her downs. He’s been there when some of the more awful college experiences have taken away her optimistic innocence. He’s always been there for her… as a friend. Jo’s never considered him as anything more than that, but this last year has its own slew of surprises, not all of them pleasant and he’s still there for her and she will have to acknowledge her new feelings eventually.
Freshman Year, Senior Year, Party, Alcohol, Friendship, Dating, Gossip, College, Fraternity, Photography, Relationships, Emotions
This story follows two timelines – the beginning of Freshman year chronologically from the first days at college through March and of Senior year chronologically from March through May. I really enjoyed these two timelines and the way the friends to lovers romantic storyline was told through two stories – Jo as a Freshman and Jo as a senior.
I really appreciated that this was a standalone in the same universe as the first book in the series. You don’t have to read the first book to enjoy the second and vice versa, although there was a nice little cameo of book one’s Meredith in this second book.
If you ever wanted a realistic portrayal of college life, then this book will give it to you. From endless nights of junk food to pre-gaming before parties to relationships. From the emotional ups and downs of navigating the first year away at college to navigating the end of college with some of the stress of graduation. This book realistically portrays the college experience (not everyone’s college experience but an honest one).
While Miller appears perfect, Jo is a slew of issues. She is both a product of her environment and upbringing and a consequence of her own actions. For a lot of the book, I didn’t like her. I really didn’t like the fact that Miller quietly adored her and did whatever to make her happy, without judgment. Why does Jo get a perfect friend like Miller? Why does Jo get a perfect boyfriend like Miller? But also – why do people turn on her for no reason? I felt sorry for her for the way people treated her and the judgments they passed on her while simultaneously disliking her for the way she acted and the way she treated Miller. She takes him so much for granted as a friend and most of the time it seems like a one-sided relationship until she starts to take him seriously as a romantic interest. Why does Miller stick with her when so many others have abandoned her? Why does he even like her so much?
Jo seems to get overwhelmed easily. Perhaps her reactions are exaggerated, but at the moment a lot of the situations she faces can have this effect on someone. This book really does show the realities and ugliness of relationships, the pettiness of so-called friends who will make fun of you behind your back while pretending to be your friend to your face, and how difficult it is to navigate being an adult in college.
This book was an easy and fast read and I’m really enjoying Wismer’s effortless writing style and can’t wait to read her next novel – be it YA, NA, romance, or something else entirely.
This novel was published by Ahimsa Press 03/30/21 and is available on Amazon here.
TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00
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