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When I Come Around

When I Come Around

a childhood friends-to-lovers, second chance retro romantic comedy

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐250+ 5-star reviews

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When I join the woman I’ve loved forever for an out-of-town movie job, she makes me an offer I can’t refuse: a secret friends-with-benefits deal. If only my heart can keep things under wraps.

Book Description

1999 goals: Get a life, get real… and get a room.

No one ever said I was the brightest bulb on the tree, but a near-death experience finally knocks some sense into my thick head.

Luckily, my jerk of an ex washes his hands of me, but I’m left with so many burnt bridges to re-build. Landing a job on any movie or TV show that’ll have me has to be my #1 priority. Thankfully, my life-long friends still love me enough to help.

When the one I always wished could be more than a friend shows up on my doorstep, however, all my good intentions go right out the window. Before I know it, I’ve convinced him that an out-of-town, friends-with-benefits deal will be the perfect way to get over each other.

Is it another in a long line of bad decisions, or a move that'll turn things around? 110 percent, I hope he can handle the truth.

Fans of 90’s TV shows, from Friends to Seinfeld, will love this second chance, friends-to-lovers, retro romance, where a grumpy cinnamon roll hero and a wounded bird heroine vie for a happy-ever-after despite interference from meddling found-family friends.

Look inside

Subj: Wedding Schedule
Date: 9/24/1999 4:55:01 PM
From: makeupchick1200
To: VioletCastingCarolina
Dear Violet,
First off, my deepest apologies for missing
your bachelorette party. Hardy had a last-
minute work event that I couldn’t get
out of.
But don’t worry! I will be ready bright and
early tomorrow to do your hair and makeup
and my bridesmaid dress is ready to go.
I’m so excited to be included in your
wedding party!


Weddings suck.

Don’t get me wrong. The simple ceremony on the beach in front of the hotel where my friends and I worked through high school and college went off without a hitch—pun intended—the weather pleasantly warm for North Carolina in September.

It’s awesome to see one of my best friends so deliriously happy. Violet’s face lights up every time she looks at her new husband, Nate. Like he hung the moon and invented chocolate.

It’s not like I’m jealous of them, either. I may have spent many a night on a couch or bed watching movies with Violet, but I never liked her romantically. She’s always been like an intimidating older sister, even though we’re the same age.

Nor am I envious of the other love matches forged by friends in the close-knit gang that’s been together since preschool.

Not of Sully, who obviously adores Helen, a badass production manager who rescued his heart.

I’m stoked for Dani, who seems like she’s falling for Luke, the famous actor I thought she hated when she worked as his driver a few years ago.

I’ve accepted that the true love thing ain’t likely to happen for me. I’ve simply got too much going on career-wise to invest in a serious girlfriend, even if I was good at the relationships.

Case in point: I wasted every single one of my chances with Whitney, the fifth member of our friend group. Always asking for too much too soon at the wrong time. Just gener- ally leaping before looking, I drove her away so fast and so far, the girl I always dreamed I’d end up with is now married to a man I can’t imagine anyone being happy with.

Hardy Fucking McRae.

Whitney and Dani are in Violet’s wedding party, but the groomsmen are all Nate’s friends who came in from Califor- nia, so I’ve managed to avoid Whit all night. Haven’t seen her jerk of a husband, either. If he’s here, he’s probably schmoozing with people who have more money and class than I do.

Not that I’m complaining. I’d just as soon punch the guy as talk to him.

The only thing weddings are good for is hooking up with women interested in a one-night stand. Tonight, even that lacks appeal. So, as soon as the cake’s been cut and the bride and groom have left the building, I am packing it in.

I’m just on my way out the door, having said the obligatory thank you’s and goodbyes, when a woman who looks only vaguely familiar grasps my arm. “Are you Ford?”

“That’s me. What can I do for you?”

“There’s a young woman asking for you in the ladies’ lounge.”

She practically pushes me inside the women’s restroom, a fancy one with an outer room full of chaise lounges and mirrors, but I barely notice the décor once I locate Whitney.

I’m at her side before I take another breath. I don’t know anything about medicine, but her pale skin, shallow breath, and hollow-eyed expression make it clear something is very wrong. I turn back to the guest who found me.

“Call nine-one-one, please. Now.”

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Customer Reviews

Based on 9 reviews
Stand alone rom com but best in series

Stand alone rom com but best in series
When I come around is best read as the 4th book in the series because Ford and Whitney appear frequently in previous books, and previous books’ characters play a significant part in this story. The previous books kind of built up to this one.

I enjoyed the story, and I especially liked the early 2000s references to things I had forgotten about (like caboodles).

I received a copy of the book at my request, and the opinions here are my own.

Kristie Galindo
Fantastic read!

This is the fourth and final book in the Carolina Classics series and it’s fantastic! I’ve been waiting for Whitney’s story…she hasn’t been the easiest character to like (based on her behavior in the previous books) but this story helps us understand why. Karen delivers an amazing story of second changes, forgiveness and finding ones self. Whitney has not had the most supportive upbringing, is very insecure and needs a fresh start. She knows who her friends and support system are so she heads back to them. Ford is a sweet, patient and caring man. He is also very career driven but will be at his friends side at the drop of a hat. As Whitney and Ford reunite after many years there are so many questions between the two, trust issues, but a love that has never been forgotten. This book has all the emotions…Karen writes a lovely story, with challenging/tough topics, and handles them beautifully. These characters are some of my favorite and prove that friendships can withstand many challenges, disagreements and misunderstandings. A perfect ending to the series.

A. Reierson
When the time is right

I'm truly sad to have this series end. I have started this review over, so many times throughout the day I just can't quite seem to get it right.
So I went back to the 90's and Greenday to see if maybe they had some words of wisdom.

"So go do what you like, make sure you do it wise
You may find out that your self-doubt means nothing
Was ever there
You can't go forcing something if it's just not right"

*Songwriters: Billie Joe Armstrong / Frank Edwin Wright III / Mike Ryan Pritchard

This I think explains perfectly Ford and Whitney's non-relationship. The group itself had so much growing to do. None started out wisely that first night the night of the hurricane. But in the end they all had to face self-doubt and no one quite as much as Whitney and Ford. And just like Whitney's parents tried to force her into something, trying to force something to not happen won't work either. Ford and Whit are clearly meant to be, if they can commit to the work.

So much character growth in this book. We really get to see Whitney evolve into a self-sufficient person. Not that she needs to be but if she chose to be she could survive on her own.
Ford finally has to man up and face his feelings. Which I absolutely couldn't wait to read.
I also have to note I immensely enjoy and appreciate that it is frequently brought up that it is completely acceptable and normal for women not to want to have children or to give birth. The tragedy that caused this to be a topic was I felt handled well within the book as well.
I have voluntarily left this review.

Leigh Ann Jordan @read_pair_share
childhood friends-to-lovers, workplace romance with unique forced proximity, & retro 90s epistola...

Thanks to the author for the eARC and early paperback copy.

When I Come Around
By Karen Grey

4th and final book in the Carolina Classics series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (0-5)
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

🌟 My initial reaction/mini review: If you like childhood friends-to-lovers, workplace romance with unique forced proximity, & retro 90s epistolary vibes, you will loooove this beautiful book!

What I’m Starry-Eyed Over:
🤩 It’s a good bookish life and what joy being in the acknowledgements: “Thank you to all the Karen Grey VIPs who brainstormed 90s songs for the book’s title. I love the one we chose!”
🤩 Captivating and clever retro 90s steamy romance.
🤩 Great mix of beach town setting and inland Carolina movie production setting.
🤩 Childhood friends-to-lovers: oh goodness, the friendship bracelet had tears streaming down my face multiple times. So much love and tenderness and secret pining.
🤩 Unique workplace forced proximity—yes, please!
🤩 Ford is my true book boyfriend forever! He is giving, caring, patient . . . and so hot when he decides to show (not just tell) Whitney how much he cares about her! 🥵
🤩 The best first hug and kiss I’ve ever read—all the feels! 🥰❤️‍🔥
🤩 When Ford and Whitney start to open up and really talk, ugh, it’s refreshing, beautiful, and oh so cuuuuuute! Steamy romcom goodness!
🤩 The actual steam is such a great combination of sneaky, hot, fun, and intimate.
🤩 The divorce law/emotional domestic abuse plot is smart, sweet (successful women supporting other women), and so well written. The retro resilience and healing are magnificent, and I totally love Whitney and all the character development we get to witness as a reader! Plus, it gives us all those extra feelings of longing.
🤩 Fantastic use of epistolary components—email threads, letter writing, and invitations.
🤩 All the intricate details with late nineties nostalgia are so perfect.
🤩 This friend group is something special. You’ll feel it in this book alone—it’s a standalone in a series of interconnected books with the same friend group, each member getting their own HEA. I highly recommend them all.

What I’m Wishing/Dizzy About:
💫 I became a super fan of @karengreyauthor last year & have read her whole back list. Actually, I listened to all the audiobooks (highly recommend) so this is a new experience for me hearing Karen’s writing with the voices in my head. I could hear these beautiful and broken people loud and clear; however, I cannot wait to have a reread via the audiobook in a few months! That first hug and kiss are going to be so good on audiobook (first person, dual POV)!

Anni Reynolds
What a way to end the series!

5 glorious stars! I can’t wait to read this for a third time when the audio releases (first read was beta and the changes/updates from then to the arc copy were perfection), and find out which awesome narrators she’s picking for these, my favourite characters!

Karen Grey has a knack for taking extremely sensitive and serious topics (timely both from the retro era she’s writing about, the late 90’s, as well as now), such as women’s reproductive rights and domestic and spousal abuse - in this case emotional trauma - and giving us a beautiful second chance friends to lovers story.

Ford has always been in love with Whitney - in fact he and Sully had a falling out over it many years ago (since they both were), and then she went and married that creep Hardy…. and not one of their tight-knit friends group could figure out why. Everything comes out at the very start of this book, when Whitney needs to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of Violet’s bachelorette party due to a miscarriage. Hardy and her parents show up at the hospital and their true colors all come out, including the absolutely disgusting side of Hardy and how all he wanted was a “breeder” and that her parents basically sold her to him to pay her college bills, and he’s done with her.

She disowns her family as much as they disown her after the miscarriage leads to a hysterectomy, but her old friends take her back in, especially Ford - leading to all the old feelings.

A beautiful and long-awaited joining of these friends who were meant to be together but too many outside influences kept them apart for years. Working together in the film industry poses its own challenges, and she needs to have some independence after the awful experiences she lived and she still keeps him at arms length, but we finally get our friends and series conclusion that we waited such a long time for, and it’s even better than I could have anticipated!

I completely and totally recommend not only this special and spectacular read, but the entire series (it’s better with the whole character arc)! Grey is such an amazing author and storyteller and you do not want to miss this one!

I received an advance copy from the author and Home Cooked Books PR, and this is my honest feedback.