I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest
Published by Penguin on February 28, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Romance / African American & Black, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
Format: ARC, eBook, Paperback
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A shy bookworm enlists her charming neighbor to help her score a date, not knowing he’s the obscure author she’s been corresponding with, in this sparkling and heart-fluttering romance by Kristina Forest.
Shy, bookish, and admittedly awkward, Lily Greene has always felt inadequate compared to the rest of her accomplished family, who strive for Black excellence. She dreams of becoming a children’s books editor, but she’s been frustratingly stuck in the nonfiction division for years without a promotion in sight. Lily finds escapism in her correspondences with her favorite fantasy author, and what begins as two lonely people connecting over email turns into a tentative friendship and possibly something else Lily won’t let herself entertain—until he ghosts her without a word.
Months later, Lily is still crushed, but she’s determined to get a hold of her life, starting with finding a date to her sister’s wedding. And the perfect person to help her is Nick Brown, her charming, attractive new neighbor, who she feels drawn to for reasons she can’t explain. But little does she know, Nick is an author—her favorite fantasy author.
Nick, who has his reasons for using a pen name and pushing people away, soon realizes that the beautiful, quiet girl from down the hall is the same Lily he fell in love with over email months ago. Unwilling to complicate things even more between them, he agrees to set her up with someone else, though this simple favor between two neighbors is anything but—not when he can't get her off his mind...
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up The Neighbor Favor, but what I got was a wonderfully written, unique romance that I found impossible to put down. ~ Sharon – Simply Love Books
The Neighbor Favor is the first adult fiction novel by Kristina Frost and she wrote a standout romance that hooked me from the beginning with characters I cared about and all I wanted was them to find their happiness. This story is a romance yet it was more than that, it was two people finding their place in the world and finding the person that loved them without wanting them to change.
Part one and basically the first fifteen percent of this book was written in epistolary style when Lily Greene, a shy bookworm working as an assistant to a non-fiction book editor, sends an email to N.R. Strickland her favorite fantasy author who disappeared after writing one book that ended in a cliffhanger. Mr. Strickland (you can call me Strick) replies and they begin a 6 month email friendship where Lily opens up quite a bit to Strick and it is easy to see that both are beginning to have some feelings for the other, and then he ghosts her (as this is in the synopsis, it’s not a secret). I cannot tell you how much that affected me, in fact I think I was probably more affected that Lily, well maybe not, but since we didn’t really see her until five months later we didn’t really see how she felt which is kind of a shame.
Part two begins and we see Lily avoiding social situations and being used and abused by her boss that refuses to join this century and dealing with her family not understanding her chosen profession and wanting her to do something more with her life. She has a great family, she really does and it is easy to see they love her but between her sisters setting her up with men who she has nothing in common with, her social awkwardness, and constantly being berated for not having a “good enough” profession sometimes they are just too much for her. After seeing the new “fine as hell neighbor” a few times including once reading a book she loves and the other giving another neighbor a pep talk about how to ask out the woman he’s crushing on, Lily decides he is someone she’d like to know better, but after sharing an amazing kiss Nick bolts leaving Lily confused.
Once inside the apartment Lily shares with her sister, Nick begins putting two and two together and realizes Lily is his pen pal he ghosted and although he didn’t want to pull back after they kissed he knows she is better off without someone like him in her life. Someone who created a completely fabricated bio for his pen name and someone who worries every day if his father will show up to ruin something in his life.
I’ll admit I was a bit miffed that Nick didn’t come clean right away with Lily and I think he truly intended to keep his distance but Lily came to him for help in getting a date for her sister Violet’s wedding and he just couldn’t say no to her no matter how much it pained him to be around her as she dated other men.
The thing is I loved Lily and Nick together despite his deceit and considering how much I hate liars, I just couldn’t hate Nick. It was easy to see his pain from the past and how it affected him and the guilt he felt about ghosting Lily plagued him daily. This was not a man who ghosted for a thrill but for self preservation no matter that it was misguided.
This was a book with a full and rich plot, characters that took up residence in my heart, and a hard won happily ever after. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up The Neighbor Favor, but what I got was a wonderfully written, unique romance that I found impossible to put down.