TITLE: Next to You (The Next Series book 2 of 2)
AUTHOR: Hannah Bonam-Young
GENRE: Romantic Comedy
PUBLISHER: Independent publisher
PUBLICATION DATE: June 1, 2022
TROPES: Friends to lovers
TRIGGER WARNINGS: death of parent, grief
FORMAT USED: Kindle ebook
RATING: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5
Next to You by Hannah Bonam-Young is more than just a story about two friends who renovate a school bus into a home. It’s a story about grief and forgiveness. It emphasizes that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of someone we love, and we have to learn to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes if we hope to move forward into the future.
Lane is in the middle of an identity crisis. Her friends are all partnered up, her career is leading nowhere, and simply put, she’s not happy. So after a night out celebrating (drinking) on her birthday, she makes one hell of an impulsive purchase. A giant yellow forty-eight passenger school bus that she intends to make a home.
With little-to-no renovation experience but a large sum of inheritance money, Lane enlists the help of her friend Matt—a mechanic by trade, handyman by practice, and hottie by nature.
While their mutual attraction is undeniable, Matt and Lane have silently agreed that a friendship is the only thing that can ever exist between them. Matt’s a total family guy with “settle down with me” tattooed across his forehead, whereas Lane is entirely commitment-averse.
So when Matt offers to help her with the bus and in the bedroom with no strings attached, Lane’s feelings evolve faster than you can say “just good friends.” But she soon discovers that in order to build something new, she has to first heal her past.
The MCs were a delight to get to know. I found myself rooting for them so much because Lane and Matt were two perfectly flawed characters who deserved to just be happy. Their character development was done excellently – both were pushed outside of their comfort zones and came out still seamlessly complimenting each other.
The supporting cast was hilarious and charming and balanced out the main storyline which dealt with some serious issues (as stated above).
Lane is someone I would love to be friends with. She’s genuine and authentic, and her wry wit had me laughing so many times. Even though she has those days where the anxiety and agoraphobia get to her, and she needs to be alone, if you need her, she’ll be the first to beat down the door to get to you.
Special mention of the diversity inclusion in making the female MC unapologetically bisexual (I don’t see many of those in novels) while still showing the societal objections towards this lifestyle.
One of my favorite things about her development is that she’s not entirely perfect by the end of the book. Not only because that’s less plausible but because it makes her someone most readers can easily relate to (I know I certainly did).
Matt is one of my top book BFs of all time. He’s sweet, patient, and loves Lane with all his heart. While Lane yields her wit as her weapon of choice, Matt will disarm you with his honesty. The chapters involving his extended family added such warmth to the story that it left me smiling.
With words like that, how could you not fall for him? #swoon.
Renovating a school bus into a home is a concept I was unfamiliar with. But learning about skoolies (the term for school buses turned into houses) was fascinating, to say the least. I googled some images of actual homes and was shocked at how unique and beautiful they looked. I even read that some skoolies can house an entire family of 5!
The conflict in this book is about grief, forgiveness and trusting ourselves to believe we are worthy of love. As a result, it broke my heart for the MCs because I was rooting so much for them. But I’m glad that Lane was not shown to be a people-pleaser, and she stood up for herself when it was necessary.
Overall, there were no open or unresolved plot lines and the story progressed smoothly.
The writing made for an easy read with relatively short chapters. Dialogues and descriptions balanced each other well, and the story was so immersive that I finished this book in one sitting. I’d pick up another book by Hannah even if she wrote a genre I didn’t like.
Ps. For those who love steamy sex scenes – you will not be disappointed.
This is my first book by Hannah Bonam-Young, which is actually the second book of the Next Series (Book #1: Next of Kin) but after reading this, I’m adding every book of hers to my amazon check out cart.
If you love swoon-worthy, authentic characters mixed with sarcastic comedy and a little HGTV action, then Next to You by Hannah Bonam-Young is definitely for you.
At the end of both books, Hannah gives you the chance to sign up for her newsletter to get a bonus epilogue chapter from the male MC’s POV, and it is entirely worth it. If you thought the books left you smiling, wait till you read the extra chapters. I could not contain my happiness that I messaged her on her Instagram to say thank you for writing such great stories. And the best part is, she replied!
If you’ve seen a different cover for this book and are wondering if it’s the same novel, I have included the original and updated cover below to avoid any confusion.
Next To You
RATING: ★★★★★/5 ᐧ || ᐧ This is more than just a story about two friends who renovate a school bus into a home. It’s a story about grief and learning to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes if we hope to move forward into the future.
Author: Hannah Bonam-Young
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