Not Just Friends is perfect if you want to take a break from the drama, angst, and emotional roller coaster that is sometimes present in many m/m romances. While there is a little bit of conflict, the story mostly focuses on Lewis, a University freshman, becoming attracted to his flatmate Max and subsequently realizing he's gay and finally understanding why his attempts to be with girls, especially his previous long-term girlfriend, didn't do anything for him. They can't immediately begin a relationship, however, because (1) Lewis isn't out yet and isn't sure how to initiate anything with Max; and (2) while the two eventually do foray a little into romance territory, they're afraid it was influenced by Max's fresh breakup and a little alcohol and don't want to ruin their friendship by rushing into something that Max isn't sure Lewis is ready for. As the book goes on, we see Lewis trying to balance his growing feelings for Max against his promise to remain just friends. Along the way Lewis is faced with some family drama that further adds to his stresses, but with the support of newly found friends and his own quiet yet solid determination, Lewis forges a happy ending for himself that will leave readers content and satiated.
Max and Lewis are great for each other. Lewis's reticent, overall laid-back demeanor is the perfect contrast to Max's unabashedly outspoken personality. I loved watching their interactions: Max's cautious and subtle flirting and Lewis's surreptitious glances at Max when he thinks no one's looking, as well as Lewis's covert jealousy at other guys flirting with Max. Their relationship is handled very realistically and I loved how during the sex scenes, Max was very aware of Lewis's inexperience, going slow and frequently asking if it was okay to do something before he actually did it. It felt more realistic and was a sweet distinction that isn't present in many m/m romances. The other characters were enjoyable as well; it was easy to like the good ones and fun to hate the bad ones. The writing was engaging and, as I mentioned earlier, there isn't too much angst so the reading isn't heavy or laborious. Like another reviewer said, this does read very much like a slice of life novel with many scenes depicting things like parties, watching movies in the bedroom, and sitting around having conversations, but each setting did move the story further so they weren't irrelevant.
Not Just Friends is a nice, sweet read with two adorable main characters. And I know this has no bearing on the plot or substance of the story, but I just want to commend the cover designer for the gorgeous models and romantic sensuality of their pose. Okay, that aside, if you enjoy light, well-written novels with a University setting and/or m/m books that center around a character discovering his homosexuality then this is definitely a title you want to check out.