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Friend-Zoned #1


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Nikolai Leokov never thought he'd fall in love with the only girl he's ever befriended.

Valentina Tomic has issues with commitment after the ultimate betrayal.

When Tina decides to make broody Nik's day better, she never thought she would end up friends with the hard man.

Nik has never had a woman be so affectionate to him without expecting something in return.

Nik and Tina cordially invite you to read Friend-zoned.

A story of friendship, humour and love.

315 pages, Nook

First published April 12, 2013

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About the author

Belle Aurora

33 books12.1k followers
Belle Aurora is thirty-something year old and was born in the land down under.
At an early age she fell in love with reading. Boredom one summer had her scouring the bookshelves at home. She stumbled across Sandra Brown’s Breath of Scandal and fell in love with romance.
Having been brought up in a loud and boisterous family of Croatian descent, she developed a natural love for dramatics and laughter. Only some years ago had she discovered a new love.
Humorous romance novels.
So many authors had opened a brand new world where she could lose herself yet feel safe and at home in their stories. Belle has been known to become a screeching banshee while anxiously awaiting their newest titles.
Belle never thought she would write. It had never interested her until recently. Friend-Zoned began to form and in February this year Belle typed the words Chapter One. And she fell in love.
With words.
With writing.
With a creative imagination she never knew she harbored.

Belle Aurora is a USA Today best-selling author.

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5 stars
10,334 (39%)
4 stars
8,460 (32%)
3 stars
4,652 (17%)
2 stars
1,631 (6%)
1 star
1,163 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,170 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel.
310 reviews35 followers
February 22, 2014
I GIVE! I SURRENDER! I can't take it anymore!

UGH! Okay here's a list:

1. The writing is juvenile. Seriously.

2. The MC cries over everything, slut shames, and acts ridiculous. She feels like a teenager and is supposed to be 28. Also, she's supposed to have lost her daughter, and I just don't feel that at all. It feels like a plot device, which is all it is.

3. Nik is a woman with a penis. Enough said.

4. This quote: "When Mimi told me she was bi-sexual I was shocked. She didn't look the type. Don't get me wrong, I'm good with it. I love love. In all shapes and forms. And I love Mimi as a lesbian. She becomes a vixen."

I can't... I can't even... Oh my god. Seriously, editor! Complete sentences and proper punctuation are important. And wow... I've never been so insulted by a romance novel. I can't even being to point out everything that is wrong with that paragraph.

5. The entire thing with Sissy was atrocious. One, I feel bad for her. Two, the scene in the club was just embarrassing. You're acting like a child, let him handle his shit. Three, stop using women as plot devices! Ugh! The whole thing just made me feel dirty.

6. The ridiculous virginal nature of the MC. Another near virginal, pure girl with the slutty man. The guy who sleeps around doesn't respect women who sleep around. Really? Must we keep pushing this stereotype? Better keep you legs together honey or no good man will want you!

One of the worst books I've read all year.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,714 reviews31.6k followers
July 26, 2013
4.5 Lets Be Friends stars!!!!
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After all the intense, emotional books I’ve read lately, I needed a pick me up- a feel good read... this had some touching and emotional moments, but overall it was hilarious, charming, sweet, sexy and EXACTLY what I needed!

Tina is a store owner in NYC. After a heartbreaking few years in California, she wanted a fresh start. Tina is funny, sweet, loving and kind. A fabulous heroine.

Nik owns the club across the street from Tina’s store. He is oh so sexy! Tina notices him taking smoke breaks everyday. He is gorgeous, but she never see’s him smile. She decides to send him something anonymously to change that. It’s just the type of person she is.

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Tina and Nick are very different, but they have one thing in common. Neither one has any interest in a relationship whatsoever.

“I don’t do relationships. I’m twenty-eight years old and have only been in one relationship. It was good in the beginning. It totally sucked at the end. Never again.”


“I don’t have relationships or girlfriends. I have fuck buddies. Because I fuck. Often. I most definitely don’t make love. I might not screw all the time but even slow screwing is just screwing.”

Nik figures out fairly quickly Tina was the one who sent him the note and candy. At first, it makes him a little nervous. What kind of woman send a man candy? Does she have ulterior motives? She quickly does something that throws Nik off... she puts him in the friend zone, somewhere he has never been before.

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“So we can be friends, right?”
Wait, what?
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
Did I..? Did I just get Friend-zoned?

Tina and Nik have the funnest and sweetest friendship. I loved watching it grow. They were both just too funny, lovable characters. Not only were Tina and Nik great, but the secondary characters were equally fantastic. I especially loved Nik’s brother, Max. Nik finds out soon enough that Tina is unlike any other woman he has ever known. She is kind, giving, caring, funny. He starts to develop real feelings for her, but they are just friends... he can’t have those.
I want to kiss her and taste every inch of her gorgeous body. I want to hold her while she sleeps. I want to protect her from everything thats bad in the world. I want her to need me. But we’re friends. And friends don’t do shit like that.

Tina is slowly falling for Nik, she doesn’t want to admit it. She doesn’t think she can take that risk again, and with Nik of all people.. she has come to love him, lean on him, and she values his friendship. She doesn’t want to ruin that. Someone from Nik’s past comes into the picture, gives Tina some trouble. It gives Nik the motivation he needs to get out of the friend zone. For the first time in his life, he wants something real, with Tina.
‘I thought I needed a woman like you. Turns out, I just needed you.’

Tina has had her walls up for the last few years. If anyone can break through them, it’s Nik. She loves him and she is willing to try...

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There is a little extra drama towards the end, but overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was so entertaining. Laugh out loud good. The main characters were both just too funny. I loved their inner monologues and some of the things that came out of their mouths just cracked me up!
“You’re pussy whipped.”
I claim, “I can’t be pussy whipped. I haven’t even had the pussy to be whipped!”
Take that, Ghost! Oh, wait…
He chuckles,
“That’s even worse, bro.”
Fuck me, it totally is.

“Can everyone shut the fuck up?”
My dad gasps and says,
“Valentina, you no be rude you friends like that!”I nod my head in agreement and try again,
“Can everyone please shut the fuck up?”

If you are looking for a sweet, funny, romantic, feel good love story, pick this one up! It is the perfect light read, with just enough emotion. A beautiful ending. Looking forward to the second book in the series (Nat and Ghost) and here’s hoping Max gets his own story!

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‘You’re it. The one. The start. The finish. You are how my story ends.’
Profile Image for Belle Aurora.
Author 33 books12.1k followers
March 10, 2013
Hey there,
I won't be reviewing my own work but ask that you take a minute after you read Friend-zoned to leave an honest review.
Thanks so much for your support.

Belle x
Profile Image for Jill.
600 reviews1,362 followers
September 22, 2014

3.5 stars

"So we can be friends, right?"
Wait, what?
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
Did I...? Did I just get Friend-zoned?


Funny, cute, well-written.

Here's my friend, Jen's wonderful review with actual words, and she says everything that I think of this one.

Thanks Jen!
Profile Image for • Lisa •.
555 reviews1,524 followers
August 3, 2013



"Did I ... ? Did I just get friend - zoned?"

There was plenty to love about 'Friend zoned' in fact for the first 55% I had that feeling of 'best book of 2013', but unfortunately this went a little south around the 60% mark and I felt a little conflicted about my initial love for the book, I think my main issue was the differing story lines, was I reading a light weight romance, or action suspense story? Nevertheless I would definitely recommend 'Friend -Zoned' to those that love chick lit and a dose of funny humour. For the most part this book was laced with 5 star moments, but for me it also lacked that certain all round 'love every page' factor so it ended up with a healthy 4 stars from me.

What's its all about?
Nikolai 'Nik' Leokov is the owner of popular club the white rabbit, nik is a typical 'man about town' with his life in order and a booming business. The only time this man thinks about having a woman in his life is when he has a pretty lady in between his sheets. So with no time for a serious relationship he can't possibly be prepared for when local business woman Valentina Tomic explodes into his life and heart with nothing more than an offer of friendship, but the course of love never does run smooth when there is secrets of the past, failure to commit and a host of miscommunication. Nik and Tina are the prefect friends and completely enjoyable characters, they hold an undeniable attraction for each other that may just take them out of the 'friend zone'.

Meet the characters ...
Nikolai Leokov is a readers dream, handsome, well dressed, the best kind of family man and to top it off he also boasts some yummy tattoos. This author went straight for the heart when she thought up this hero. A dual point of view meant we didn't miss any of the action from Nik and I was convinced by this character. Nik is a bucketful of sweet, sexy and straight up protective of those he loves, every girl needs a Nikolai Leotov.

Valentina 'Tina' Tomic is a character I will not be forgetting in a hurry she was dorky, geeky, gorgeous and had a sense of humour to rival most of the heroines I've ever read about. I loved her inner dialogue and amusing Tina isms yes, she amused me from page one and I'm now on the hunt for a friend just like her.


What did I love ...
'Friend - Zoned' captured friendship and family perfectly, I loved how the characters slotted into each others lives. Tina and her girl friends were probably what I enjoyed most about the story I loved their witty banter and humorous conversations, There was never a dull moment throughout the book, it was entertaining and it certainly caused a few chuckles in its funnier moments. Nik and his family are a crowd pleaser, I've mentioned before in reviews that I love when a series links it's characters and if I get to see more of Max, Ghost, Trick and all the others then I will be one happy reader. Surprisingly for such a funny, cute story it also had depth and moments of sadness that I'm not sure flowed with the rest of the story but I could understand what the author was trying to achieve I just didn't agree with some of the conflicting story lines, however it does prove that this author is able to cover a range of topics and write them well. 'Friend - Zoned' is a story with a laugh a minute I'm so glad that I was recommended this story by my good reads girls, I'm glad I one clicked this book, no regrets from me.

Final thoughts ...
I feel a little disappointed that I was unable to crown this book 'best read of 2013' there was shining moments that I truly thought meant id found myself the perfect book, but sadly it didn't hold up my five star fixation. But I don't want to sound negative this was an enjoyable read for me. I can't wait to delve into book two, for two reasons, firstly I have a buddy read lined up with my stateside bestie friend, Christy and secondly because the author left me excited to learn more about her interesting characters. 'Friend - Zoned' is a witty, romantic story that captured friendship and true love at its best, I know that this will be a winner for most ... Go grab it readers, kisses.

Profile Image for Tink Magoo is bad at reviews.
1,241 reviews184 followers
August 26, 2016
Yes I did finish this, because clearly miracles actually happen!


What the fuck did I just read, someone please explain to me how the fuck so many people gave this book 5 stars. The only reasoning I can come to is that they were drunk and on some really trippy drugs because this was just a whole load of stupid.

This heroine is supposed to be 28?! Really? I mean REALLY? I thought she was 12 because this bitch was the most immature character I have ever read about. I wanted to slap her so hard her whole face fell off. Who the hell says "Oh. My. Gawd!!!" at the age of 28!


And Nik. That man must have spent his entire 35 years of life looking for his balls, because he was the biggest pussy I've ever come across. A big badass ex-gang member with a scary gun? Was it a Nerf gun and was the gang a Care Bears fan group? Granted he is slightly more mature than whatever her name was, but not by much. And he's supposed to be sexy?! Even his big dick didn't help his case and I can forgive a lot of issues for some man meat.

What actually surprised me the most was how they had time to fit any sex in what with ALL THE BLOODY CRYING. These women should have bought shares with Kleenex, they'd be minted by now if they had.

It wasn't like Sharknado were it's so bad it's good, NOPE it's just bad.

At this point I don't even give a shit about how harsh I've been. *SORRY - NOT SORRY!*

The only hope left is that the author wrote this when she was really young, only then could I slightly forgive the immaturity of the whole thing and attempt another book by her.

*Edit to say that I have read and really liked another book by this author, so there is hope*
Profile Image for Didi.
865 reviews289 followers
December 4, 2013
I tend to love friends to lovers stories. They're so honest and relatable if ever you found yourself in a similar situation from times past.

But, I didn't love this one.

To be honest, I actually contemplated shelving it about 65% in. Why?

Tina. It was all Tina's fault, hehe!

The plot was cool. The secondary characters were cool, especially Ghost. There was just something about him. I found myself wanting to know his story and luckily book #2 will be about him and Natalie--if I decide to read it-- But back to Tina.

She irritated THE HELL out of me, no joke! She was a little too sacharrine, a little too sweet, a little too play-the-deer-in-headlights-type with her widened eyes, and *GASP!* reactions. Just as an example, no spoiler here: She sees a weapon--not in use but described as for safety reasons-- and when asked to hold it, she tucks her arms under her armpits and exclaims in a feirce whisper, " I don't want my prints on it!!" REALLY??!! is that supposed to be funny? cute? I'm thinking RIDICULOUS.

This is one of an endless number of examples why she bugged me. I kept trying to figure out if her characterization was meant to be goofy-cute or naive but smart. But, to me it came across as trying too hard and failing miserably. She often spoke in EXCLAMATIONS!!!!! all the time!!! And she made comments that were annoying at best.

There were also many scenes that I thought if happened in real life, there would be a very different reaction to them. Again for examples sake, no spoiler: Deciding to scope out someones house without asking and then entering a room and helping yourself to whatever's in there. REALLY?? do normal people do that? As a host I would find that rude and pretentious. But this is just me.

Like I said, the story itself wasn't bad neither were the secondary characters but if the h is dragging down the book then I can't look past that and give more stars. I know a lot of people liked it very much and I can see why. It had it's funny moments and scenarios and Nik was yummy...so Yes, I can see why it was well recieved. But you can't love em' all and this unfortunately fell in the don't like category for me.
Profile Image for Pearl Angeli.
622 reviews942 followers
December 12, 2015
(Buddyread with Allie. Check out her full review. :))

Friend-Zoned is one of those books you would gladly read for pleasure. It's hilarious and practically delightful. Belle Aurora laced this book with humor and pure entertainment that readers will surely laugh out loud.

This book is actually a decent NA read. But while I didn't hate it or anything, it left quite me unsatisfied because I was expecting something different. I loved the story. The plot was simple and interesting but I wasn't convinced with the delivery especially because of its slow pacing that dragged most parts of the book.

I also had an issue with the main character Tina who acted so childish despite her mature age. But it doesn't mean I was annoyed with her. It's just that I'm weirded out by her personality. In the end though, I warmed up to her because of what happened to her in the past. It was in the last few chapters of the book that I totally empathized with her.

Nik, on the other hand, was a great character. He's a bit cliché but he's one of the most likable of people to read about. He's a typical rich casanova but he's sweet and very passionate when he seriously falls for someone. I definitely swooned a lot with the way he cared for Tina. :)

All in all, this book is an enjoyable read but for me, it's nothing extraordinary. I'm not closing my doors for this author though because I really want to read her Willing Captive and Lev which are highly recommended by friends. :)



Pearl's Book Journey (1)

Profile Image for Catarina.
896 reviews1,932 followers
November 23, 2014
5 Friend-Zoned Stars!

Tina is a broken girl who tries to see the good in everything. So when trough the glass of her store she can see her handsome but broody neighbor that never smiles, she knows that she has to do something. So she sends him candy and a note. Eventually he finds out who she is and they form some kind of friendship. Being a broken girl who refused to give her heart again she only wants friendship with him. But one his past gets in the way and they get closer, maybe friendship isn't enough. But sometimes, in order to heal others and make them happy, you have to heal yourself first.


I've already loved the second book in this series and this one didn't disappointed. I got exactly what I was expecting and some kind of "Kristen Ashley feeling" that is awesome to read. This book was heartwarming, great to read, funny and with steamy moments. Just what you need in a bad day and want to get better. I can't wait for Max book!!


Rating: 5 Stars.
Characters Development: Tina was a pretty great heroine. Yes, she was hurt and some of her attitudes reflected that. But she was funny and sweet and knew what she wanted. I loved her. I loved Nik as well. He was loyal, sexy and sweet when he put his mind into it. An amazing group of supporting characters. Nat and Asher are still my favorite couple and it was awesome to see more of them.
Steam: Some hot moments
Sensible Subjects:
Love Triangle:
Profile Image for Stephanie.
925 reviews38 followers
June 6, 2016
The amount of great reviews for this book is mind-boggling. Is this the first book all these 4 and 5-star reviewers have ever read and, thus, they don't know any better? Are all of these 4 and 5-star reviewers naive 11-year olds?

DNF at page 61 and here are the reasons why:
1. Simplistic and juvenile writing (and that's me being kind because it was pretty crappy) that read like bad fanfiction. The constant switching between POVs didn't help with this either and I usually love dual POVs;
2. Horrible editing;
3. Immature characters - Tina was supposed to be 28?! I am still trying to wrap my head around that one;
4. Corny and unrealistic interactions between the characters;
5. Terrible fashion sense (I really did not need detailed descriptions of these horrible outfits.) and;
6. A bunch of other nonsense but I don't care enough about this book to continue writing this list.

The only legitimately funny and cute part of the first 61 pages was the guys sitting around playing UNO. I love UNO.
Profile Image for Tough Critic Book Reviews.
308 reviews2,152 followers
April 22, 2013
Clap your hands, plastic lips and penis Tetris...

None of which will make sense until you read Friend-Zoned, but I'm giddy. Slap your ass giddy! Hallelujah, amen a book that finally killed insta-love with sexual tension. A book that knows how to make us wait, tease us, draw it out, tickle our fancy. By the way "Fancy" is the name of my....never mind.

Sexual tension is the elixir of life, the nectar of the gods...a smooth shot of tequila!! My thirst has been quenched. Nik and Tina's sexually charged friendship was--is...it was just what I needed.

I could not put this book down; it had the same addictive quality I find in many Kristen Ashley novels. You fall in love with the characters...all of the characters. Nik, Trick, Asher, Max...big soft hearts encased in hot alpha male bodies. I fell in love.

This book was a big ball of everything; humor, sexual tension, friendship. Even parts that pulled at your heartstrings. It had everything from troubled pasts to Will Ferrel and the "sprinkler". I laughed out loud one minute and my heart clinched the next. We get our fun and our drama!!

Those of you who like to wear your nitpickers.com shirts will definitely find flaws; a few editing mistakes, some plot holes. It wasn't perfect. It even had a few draggy bits where there should have been less internal monologue and more dialogue, but I didn't care. I was thoroughly, thoroughly entertained and I haven't felt that way in a long time.

The author gives us drama, but manages to keep it light and fun. It's hilarious, touching, and full of action. My kind of trifecta! I wanted so much to be a character in this book and I can't wait for the next one.

Belle Aurora is definitely one to keep your eye on!


More reviews at: http://www.toughcriticbookreviews.blo...
Profile Image for Jen .
802 reviews572 followers
May 19, 2013
"Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"

A funny, not to mention SEXY, friends to lovers story gets me every damned time. Tina and Nik were so perfect together, from the moment she meets him by sending him candy wax lips in the hopes she'd finally see him smile until their eventual HEA. Luckily there's a large and entertaining set of supporting characters that managed to add to the story rather than convoluting it.

"Ceecee, we are ladies and princesses, and we do not say b i t c h." I end on a whisper and have no idea why I felt the need to spell the word when I just said it. Ceecee becomes thoughtful then looks back to me and says, "But Britney said bitch and she's a lady." Damn it, Britney. Now look what you've done! My eye twitches as I try to think of an acceptable answer...

If I had a nickel. There were some continuity and, oddly enough, geography related issues I had with the book but nothing over the top. All and all, this was an enjoyable and light hearted way to spend the afternoon.
Profile Image for Beatrice Masaluñga.
1,135 reviews1,656 followers
July 10, 2018
How ridiculous I am to think Friend-Zoned is a mafia book? I picked it up without reading the blurb just to set my mood for a romantic suspense and after several chapters, I was laughing out loud. Never would I've thought it's a romantic comedy and I actually had a good time reading this.

Valentina Tomic is the owner of a clothing boutique called Safira. She's sassy, bold, bubbly and hilarious. Despite being immature, I can't help laughing on her shenanigans. I think it's her way of coping after an unfortunate event in the past. It's the reason she's been single for years.

She notices an attractive but brooding man across her store. Tina befriends this guy by sending lip-shaped candies to cheer him up. Apparently, he is Nikolai Leokov, the owner of the The White which is a club across her store.

Tina and Nik are obviously attracted to each other but both of them have issues as far as relationship goes. The friendship between them was solid and it's even more fruitful when they took it to the next level. They slowly opened up to each other and I find it really sweet. Tina is thoughtful, caring and loyal to her family and friends. These qualities made Nik fall in love with her. He's protective, sweet and selfless. Quite an alpha guy.

This novel reminds me of Wallbanger with an organize crime group. Nik, Max, and Ghost are former gang members but they still have minor involvement outside the business. I love the humor and friendship here more. The secondary characters Max, Mimi, Ghost (he's by far my favorite!), Nat, Lola and Trick are great. I know I'm so late but I am excited to read their stories.
February 1, 2016
I think I may have encephalitis, because I can't think of any other reason for reading this and not DNF-ing it. It sucked Donkey Kong's pixelated balls.

Let's go over how this sucked:
1. The writing style.
A)It is one of the most annoying and disjointed. Instead of the usual block paragraphs, it's a collection of one or two sentence paragraphs. It's written like a text message conversation most of the time.
B) Beyond overly descriptive and not in a purple prose way. It tells step by step what the character does and what everyone is wearing. If that junk was cut out it would've been 150 pages shorter.
2. POV. It's all first person POV, which I don't expressly hate, but it's not my preferred choice. Why it's horrible in this book is due to the inner monologue of Tina that is all a diarrhea of the brain. Most things she thinks she then says, but why do I need to read what she's going to say twice? It's a weird running stream of thought that only stops to tell you in minute detail her every action and that of everyone around her. The other POV is from Nik, but his is much less than Tina's.
3. Tina. This chick is TSTL and she's obscenely annoying. It's like a Furbie that snorted lines of sugary cocaine and has been set loose on the world to cause destruction. She's a very hyper character, which I detest, and the author makes her disgustingly nice to everyone...no one is that nice, it's just not realistic. She also oozes endearments to everyone, honey, darling, sweetie, with every sentence. Now between being uncontrollably saccharine, she cries, a lot. She should buy stock in Kleenex with how many boxes she must go through to sop up all her sobbing. She doesn't just cry at sad things, she cries at everything. And I've just realized I've described a two year old toddler going through the "terrible two's." Ugh.
4. Nik's back story. Nope, doesn't compute. It's too ridiculous. I didn't hate Nik, but his dad's connections were portrayed through rose tinted glasses.
5. Length and editing. Was there any? Did anyone beta read this? It needed to be severely cropped of excessiveness. It dragged down the whole book having to slog through.
6. Plot. The bad guy plot was pretty PG. I think I've seen better villains in Tom & Jerry cartoons, at least more menacing ones.

My only excuses for reading this are that I really like the friend zone plot lines, the synopsis sounded good and I kept waiting for it to get better, and I felt too lazy to change books. I wanted to finish this book so I could stomp it into the ground and say "HAH. That'll show you to try to annoy me into DNF-ing, I will end you." The lack of murders in this book was really disappointing. I'm going to need to read something gory now. I need dead bodies!!!!

Alright, well, fuck this book, I'm off to eat a bag of chocolate.
Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,341 reviews4,597 followers
May 1, 2013

Friend Zoned brought out so many emotions in me. This book was quirky and funny, sad and tragic, action packed and exciting.

Tina Tomic is the owner of Safira clothing store. She left her life in California for a new start two years ago. While looking out her store window, she notices the gorgeous owner of The White Rabbit night club across the street Nikolai Leokov taking smoke breaks.

Tina works with two great girls, Lola and Meems. Her best friend, Nan is expected to move in with her and start working with her as well. Life is pretty good except for that gorgeous guy across the street’s frown.

It all started with a gift of a pair of wax lips with a card saying:

”Smile sometime, handsome.”

When Nik receives his gift, he immediately sends for Tina to figure out her motives. He is pretty taken by her derriere and her quirkiness. Their conversation goes well until…

”So we can be friends, right?”
Wait, what?
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
Did I…? Did I just get friend-zoned?”

The large cast of characters in this book were all well done and I’m guessing that they will receive books as well. Some were mysterious like Ghost, some were sweet and heart breaking like Max and some were just fun like Lola and Meems.

Tina’s friends and Nik’s friends become friends. They enjoy each other’s company and it’s a good time. Nik and Tina do lunches, hang out and the sexual tension is abundant!

Although Tina is a cupcake baking machine and a sweetheart she does harbor tremendous grief. The scene where the girls sing at the piano was a tough one.

When these two get together and learn to trust it seems that all is well until…Omar. Well you see, Nik has family ties to a Russian-American gang and a crazy guy is smitten with Tina. Then there’s her ex who appears as well. Have no fear this book ends with a sweet hea.

Bella Aurora does a great job with this debut novel, it had a bit of everything!
Profile Image for * Meli Mel *.
856 reviews646 followers
January 10, 2014

♥♥♥ 4 Stars ♥♥♥

●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●

“So we can be friends, right?”

Wait, what?
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
Did I…? Did I just get Friend-zoned?
I look over again to see Tina nodding vigorously and smiling brightly.
Wow, this has never happened to me before.

●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●

This book was so awesome! It had a little bit of everything. I think it's the perfect book if you don't want a read that has over the top angst. It was humourous with such entertaining and lovable characters. And high levels of steam. Definitely one you should read after an emotionally draining book.

Both Nik and Tina do not do relationships. Nik, because he is simply not interested at the moment and can't trust women. Tina, because she was completely shattered in her previous relationship that she swore 'never again'. Tina notices Nik from across the street in her clothing store, Safira. He is always hanging around at the nightclub The White Rabbit during the day. There is one thing she notices about him. Yes, he is über smexy. But, he never smiles. So, she decides to send him candy and a note, and the rest is history. They become the bestest of 'friends'.

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I like that Tina is in my bed with me and we haven't had sex. It's more than that with her. I want to be her protector and the one who she comes to with her problems. She feels good against me. So soft and lush. I could get use to this. Contentment washes over me.

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Tina was a really funny character. I've noticed that Bella Aurora loves giving her characters a 'crazy colourful' mind, full of funny and quirky banter. Which, I personally love. Tina was just like that. The random things that pop in to her head, and her random expressions made me chuckle. She was sweet, caring, and could bake the most delicious treats. She was independent, a tad bit crazy, goofy, and quite strong. A character who really complimented Nik's personality. She was awesome.

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I love this man. Actually love him. With all my heart. There's no denying it anymore. I feel safe with him. Whatever sadness I feel living my life is gone as soon as I see Nik. He makes the days' worth getting up for in the morning. My heart swells every time I see him shoot that dimple my way.

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Nik is the owner of the nightclub she sees him in. When Tina bulldozes her way into his life, he didn't know what to think. He instantly thought "she wants a relationship, and might be after his money." But when she just wants to be friends, he can't believe. He is attracted to her. He knows this could be dangerous, and yet, he finds himself agreeing. Nik was the protector. He cares deeply about his loved oned and goes to any lengths for them. It was beautiful to see these two become friends, and later on, become lovers. Because this way, we get to see thier love grow for one another.

The steam was super sexy!! I loved the build up in this book. I couldn't wait for them to get it on! ha! The sexual tension was just perfect. And when they got together, it was smoking hot!! Nik is one sexy beast!! Yowza!! Loved him!! So, it definitely didn't disappoint.

The supporting characters were just as wonderful! They were each crazy in their own way. A bunch of people that don't look like they would get along but do. They were all so funny and loud. I loved seeing the whole gang interact together. And Nik's niece CeeCee, stole my heart. She was such a sweetheart. Loved her!!

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“You’re it. The one. The start. The finish. You are how my story ends.”

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The book is light, with many funny moments. As well as a tiny bit of angst thrown in to keeps things entertaining. I loved the chemistry between all the characters. Some parts were a tad bit cheesy in my opinion but for the most part, very enjoyable. I loved getting to know the character's backgrounds. Some parts were also really sad. The ending was absolutely sweet!! I loved it! I recommend this book to people looking for a book that will lift up their spirits and leave them with a feel good feeling. I can't wait to read more of this series.

Profile Image for Farah.
361 reviews496 followers
July 1, 2013
3.5-4 stars


This book started off totally awesome!
I was ecstatic! It reminded me so much of Wallbanger because it was just so funny.

Valentina (Tina) and Nikolai (Nik) are neighbours.
Not literally but Tina their businesses are opposite each other.

Tina owns a clothing store and Nik owns a club across the road.
Tina sees Nik outside smoking but never smiling or happy so she sends him candy with a note saying he should smile though.
When Tina does something sweet and selfless for Nik he is shocked because most girls want money and nothing else from him.

What they didn't know this is the start of a great friendship and lots of yummy baking! LoL!
Tina is just a genuinely NICE person who does sweet and thoughtful things for people without ever asking for anything in return.

But this,” I point to the donuts, “is all me. And when I bake for someone, I give them a little part of myself. It’s like giving someone a part of my heart every time.” I look up thoughtfully and shrug, “I don’t know if I like the idea of people buying pieces of me. They’re mine to give away when I feel like it. And that makes them special.”

What's the problem? Nik doesn't DO relationships, he fcuks and that only...

Tina has been too badly hurt in the past that she's not looking for a relationship.
When Tina sang about her hurt, she had me singing along with her!


These two have awesome friends and when they all start hanging out together they have soo much fun.

Only to realise that there is more.

But is it too late?
And will this ruin the great friendship?

"I don’t need a perfect relationship. I just need someone who won’t give up on me.”

Both want more but think the other doesn't and Tina tries to ignore her feelings for Nik it seems he feels more than what he shows.

"You make life better"

The best thing in life is to love your best friend, a friendship based on love can withstand anything which Nik and Tina find themselves facing.

Also the past night come to haunt them and they must most share their pain and secrets with each other...

I liked the book but I also felt at times it was really corny.
If you looking for a sweet read filled with humor, laughter and love this would be it.

Profile Image for Jamie.
1,005 reviews913 followers
May 5, 2013

Wow!!! What A Sexy Sweet Story! LOVED IT

I got exactly what I was looking for with this book.. a sweet steamy romance with very little angst, a whole lot of chemistry and steam, a little suspense, and an HEA!! The chemistry between Nik and Tina was amazing and I loved how they started out as friends--even though they were both extreamly attracted to each other from the beginning. Throw in his friends and family and her friends and this book was so much fun! I started this book late Thursday and stayed up until 4:30AM the next morning unable to put it down. Thank goodness I had taken a vacation day Friday or I would have been dead on my feet all day. This was that kind of story.. I just couldnt wait to experience every moment with Nik and Tina..

As completely fun as this book was there was also a lot of sadness for Tina and what horribly tragic event happend in her not to distant past that still affects her today. My heart ached so much for her and what she went through. Nik is the perfect sexy alpha man to help heal her heart.. and wow, does he heal every single inch of that girl. LOVED NIK.. that man was F-I-N-E.

Can't wait for the next book in this series!! I really like Belle Aurora's writing style..so easy to read and so funny! I laughed out loud so many times...

I highly recommend this one to anyone looking for something fun and super sexy with a touch of sadness, a dash of suspense, and a sweet HEA.

May 16, 2013
4.5 Stars

I want to protect her from everything that’s bad in the world. I want her to need me. But we’re friends. And friends don’t do shit like that.

I love, Love, LOVE friends to lover type stories, and this story is as awesome as it gets. This was so freaking cute! I had such a toothache from smiling so much. OMG, this story has everything: Strong Alpha Hero, a loveable-non-annoying heroine, a wonderful cast of supporting characters (whom I can easily see myself being friends with, too), tons of humor, and just the right amount of drama. So good!

“So we can be friends, right?”
(Wait, what?)
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
(Did I…? Did I just get Friend-zoned?)
I look over again to see Tina nodding vigorously and smiling brightly.
Wow, this has never happened to me before.

Nik didn’t know what to do when Valentina (Tina), just waltz into his life. At first, he didn’t know if she was going to be a typical woman; only wanting him for his money and connections. He was pretty sure that’s what she wanted. Until she friend-zoned him. So here they were, a new friendship formed.

Tina was all about being Nik’s friend. Yes, he’s sexy and smart, but she wasn’t ready for that type of relationship, yet. Being a friend to Nik would be enough for now.

“You’re pussy whipped.”
I claim, “I can’t be pussy whipped. I haven’t even had the pussy to be whipped!”
(Take that, Ghost! Oh, wait…)
He chuckles, “That’s even worse, bro.”
(Fuck me, it totally is.)

Nik has never had a woman friend before. What is he suppose to do with her? He didn’t expect the hurricane that is Tina. All the little things she does for him completely leave him dumbfounded. Slowly, he starts to see something in Tina; something that he didn’t even know he was looking for. Suddenly, he wants to make their relationship more, but is too afraid to ruin what they currently have. Can they make the jump?

“You’re it. The one. The start. The finish. You are how my story ends.” ~Nik

OMG! Nik totally made me swoon. His slow transformation was so much fun to read, and Tina…I just loved her character. She never came off as fake or annoying. She was a breath of fresh air. Nik never stood a chance. As for the supporting characters, I LOVED each and every one of them, especially Asher (a.k.a. Ghost) and Nat. I cannot wait to read their story next!
Profile Image for Shay.
47 reviews7 followers
November 7, 2013
First, I don't think I've ever disagreed more strongly with my book friends than I do about this book!! I also feel that if anyone gives a 1 or 2 star rating, it deserves an explanation. Especially since I've read some of Belle's other work and really loved it!! And I will continue to read her books, I just really didn't like this one and there are several reasons.

1. Too many grammatical errors. This reads like unedited fan fiction. ("date rate drug", "we're" instead of "were", there were others but you get my point.) It reminded me of those papers I would crank out at the last minute and turn in without re-reading.

2. Unrealistic setting. I love New York. I LOVE LOVE LOVE when books are set in NYC because there are so many places and settings for the characters. But I didn't buy that this was set in NY for one minute and here's why.
A. Tina has a piece of shit car that barely runs. So how can she afford a two bedroom apartment? It's clear in the story that she hasn't touched the "other money" and that she is living off of Safira profit. Not only does she have a 2br apartment but she has to pay to park said piece of shit car. I tried to justify it by saying maybe she lives in Brooklyn or The Bronx or even Queens. But I couldn't really ever convince myself that was the case.
B. The White Rabbit and Safira sound like Manhattan businesses. And there is street parking in front of Safira. Yep, that can happen but not all-day parking.
C. And THEN there is Nik's place. There is no way a sprawling 9br(??) gated house is on Manhattan. It's sure as shit not in The Bronx. It would have made more sense for him to live in Jersey. Or Connecticut. Details matter and this bugged me from the get-go. If the setting was upstate NY or another city, she should have said-so. This setting read like suburbia with the local coffee shop and clerks that remember your name.

3. Lazy storytelling. As you can see, I love details. The best part of reading a book is developing the scene and characters in your mind and then "watching" them in action. It's how I become emotionally invested in a book. Early on, Lola says, "...So I reach over to my groceries, open a can of chopped tomatoes and dump em on her head!" Um...what? Did you have a can opener in your purse? Did you really open a CAN of tomatoes right there in the check out line? I made myself laugh picturing this absurd scene. Plus, who does that? Later, in the club, the girls have all slid into a "large booth" in the VIP lounge. The guys then show up and slide in with them. When the She-devil shows up, all of a sudden, all four girls are in her face. ?? WTF? Did they teleport? Because I've never exited a booth without sliding out and if someone has slid in next to me, they are going to have to move first. This probably wouldn't have bothered me so much except I couldn't stop thinking about the goddamn tomatoes!!!

4. Weird timeline of events and unrealistic character interaction. When Tina's dad showed up, I expected some sort of heartfelt moment due to the different ways they were forced to grieve their losses. But alas, we get the cheesiest scene in the whole book:

Dad: OMG, your douchy ex-boyfriend called and instead of calling you, I jumped on a flight from Cali because it's such a quick flight and super easy to get here. Cheap, too.

Tina: OMG, Daddy, it's OK, Nik's here. Oh, hi Jace.

Jace: Huh huh, you look good.

Nik: He wants your money.

Tina: *gasp* No!

Jace: OK, I'll go now.

Nik: Don't worry Tina's Dad, I'm here now.

Dad: Ok, I'll just go jump back on a plane to Cali instead of spending some time with my daughter that I haven't seen in a long time. Ciao!

I gave myself a migraine from all the eye-rolling and skimmed the rest of the book. Oh, and I can't even talk about Omarr. This was turning into Gangs of New York meets Gossip Girl and I wasn't buying any of it.

Later, Nik tries to find Jace but he's already back in California. (The shuttle service from LaGuardia to LAX is pretty awesome. SMH) That whole interaction seemed forced and completely unnecessary. Tina had already gotten over Jace, there was no reason to bring him in for 30 seconds of dialogue. So dumb.

As I said, I will read the next book and will continue to read Belle's work. But this fell flat for me.
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,484 reviews3,497 followers
October 17, 2020
4 Stars (Originally Read with just a star rating 10/22/2013)

3 Stars (Re-Read with review 10/17/2020)

Overall Opinion: This was great for the first half! I loved the whole development of friendship that develops into something more aspects! I just wasn’t a fan of having a gang relation to the family and stalker type situation. It felt corny and OTT. They also got a little too mushy too quickly for my tastes. I rated this 4 stars the first time I read it, but I (sadly) think I’m going to have to lower my rating this time since my opinions on books has changed so drastically as I’ve become way pickier in my books.

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Tina and Nik’s story. Tina has been admiring her work neighbor for a couple months and she decides to make a move. She isn’t interested in a relationship because of how badly she was burned in the past, so she quickly friend-zones Nik. They quickly become close friends along with her 3 friends and his 3 family members and they start a routine of spending time together regularly. There are some big secrets revealed, some past drama comes up, some sexy times, and some sad moments...and they get a HEA ending.

Point Of View (POV): This alternated between Tina and Nik’s POV (often switching back and forth multiple times in a chapter)

Overall Pace of Story: Alright. I did start to skim in the second half because I was bored and it was too OTT for me.

Instalove: No, friends to love.

H (Hero) rating: 4 stars. Nik. I liked him. I definitely wanted to shake him at times, but I liked him.

h (heroine) rating: 4.5 stars. Tina. I really liked her. She made the book better — which says a lot because I’m usually harder on my hs!

Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Good. They have some good tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story.

Descriptive sex: Yes

OW (Other Woman)/OM (Other Man) drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This ends with a HEA ending but I’m greedy and I still would’ve liked more because of the way it was quickly wrapped up right after the conflict was resolved

Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers
105 reviews42 followers
February 4, 2015
EDIT[4/2/15] well I didn't like this as much as my first time. It was too too suger coated!! But I am not going to change my main review, just the rating..

4.5 Stars!
Ahh, the power of candy. Who knew it could be the beginning of something this beautiful?
I actually find this really surprising, I have been reading NA books one after another and each of them ended up disappointing me more and more, but this book! Oh sweet Jesus this book! Its done something to me! It twisted my heart , playe games with my mind and just made me burst into rainbows at every single page!

This book had the depth which most NA books lack in general. It had this plot that just flowed like breeze through your hair, not completely messing it up, not just leaving it stationary.

The book was realistic. It was a fairytale without the superficial bullshit. The characters had REAL problems ,were faced with REAL dilemmas and REAL emotions. This book teaches us, life may not always be rainbows and sunshine and there might be this huge storm,but its up to u if u want to sit at home and whine or cuddle up reading your favorite book! Life is what u make it! This message was brilliantly portrayed through the characters and you a could actually feel this real connection with the book and chacharacters.

"Angels must have broken out in song when this man was born. I feel like breaking out in song."

Well I don't know if angels broke into a song, but boy I sure did!


The characters are what make or break a book! Especially when it's NA. And I absolutely loved every single character. They actually did something and weren't just sitting there looking only hot and sexy. They had sexy hearts. They were people who u actually come across every day. They were the people next door!

And Tina! Omg! She is what I call a REAL human being ! If people like Tina actually exist in real life, well there is still hope left for humanity. She has been through ACTUAL PROBLEMS in life , (not those ones like, "omg! I lost my favorite gucci purse! My life is over") but yet she wears her heart on her sleeve, ready to accept, love and spread the joy. To you I salute!


Its really nice when the characters of books inspire u this way. You feel this huge sense of satisfaction after reading!
It was incredible how each and every character had a quality that I admired and how each one of them gained my respect!

There is also a thin line between lust and love. And this book had love. Real love. It wasn't those books where the guy calls the girl just hot or sexy. He calls her beautiful. He calls her his goofball! Isn't that enough to prove how adorable this book was?

This book was a 5 star book until the end. It gained my complete admiration and love. Then why the 4.5 rating?
This sense of reality I had come to love of this book had slowly evaporated into BOLLYWOOD STYLE DRAMA!It got pretty clichéd with the Omar guy. I mean this shit ain't gonna happen in real life right?

I used to get so lost in this book sometimes and would laugh out so loudly that people used to think I was little lose in the head! It tickels ur funny bone, makes u think about life and touches u right in the heart! It was BEAUTIFUL piece of work! I would recommend this to everyone and anyone!
Best I have ever read in this genre. :')
Profile Image for .Lili. .
1,155 reviews260 followers
July 24, 2013
Friend-Zoned is the very cute story of Tina and Nik. Tina has been in been in New York for the past couple of years. She's moved there to have a fresh start after having gone through some very painful experiences. While there she has opened her own clothing store and it is while working that she first sees a very sullen Nik take his smoke breaks. Since she hates to see anyone sad, one day she writes him an anonymous note with a piece of candy and that is where our story begins.

Tina and Nik along with their friends quickly become great friends. I found their interactions both humorous and sweet. There were a few over the top moments but overall it worked. I enjoyed that the book was written from a dual POV. I think if you need a break from emotionally draining reads or simply in the mood for a quick fun read- then this is the book for you!

During the book I was:
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For such a light read- I have to say the parts that were sad- were really fucken sad. I was ugly crying. In the end though I felt happy.
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It was just such an adorable book- how could I not be?

Thank you for the Buddy Read Sexy Laci "Candela" PG!
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Profile Image for Sandy Ⓢ.
283 reviews9 followers
November 8, 2016
Una estrella es mucho

Mi siguiente comentario será así...

Lo bueno: Nada, un taaanto entretenida y un taaanto divertida (y en cuanto pasan días de haberlo leído, dejan de ser).

Lo malo: ¡Todo! Estaba entre arrancarme la cabeza o arrancársela a la protagonista. En serio chica, ¡deja de dar saltos y comportarte como niña de 9 años, tienes 28, 2-8! ¡Deos!

Ésta fue una loca lectura, me sentí viendo un capitulo de esas historias de hoy día, puras situaciones sin sentido y personalidades fuera de este mundo. No sé ni que otra cosa escribir porque no me da para escribir algo más. Me decepcionó un poco (aunque no tenía expectativas de ningún tipo pero tampoco pensé que era así); en cuanto a leer el siguiente, mmm, ya veremos, quizás dentro de mucho tiempo porque la verdad es que soy masoquista y me ha quedado una pizca de curiosidad por la siguiente historia, porque digamos, no puede empeorar ¿o sí? :/
Profile Image for Duchess Nicole.
1,255 reviews1,506 followers
July 16, 2013
3.5 Stars

The Good:
I loved the author's voice. She has that casual writing style (a la Kristen Ashley) that makes you feel like you're a part of the action, best friends with the girls, and either lusting after the men or wanting them to just be in your vicinity to protect you. The women are quirky as hell, each of them with their own set of wacky one liners and silly idiosyncrasies. It's easy to relate to them, because they actually seem like real people.

Tina owns a clothing boutique and loves to dress pretty, but she's not over the top annoying, and she realizes and expresses that two hundred dollars for a jacket is outrageous. I hate it when a book talks about spending money like a rich person when their lead female is an obvious middle class American. Tina is down to earth and extremely loyal. Nik lives a life that seems great to him...a string of gorgeous women to sleep with but never stay with and a hip club that keeps him rich. He's also loyal to his family and friends and feels responsible for those around him. His reaction to Tina at first is confusion...this bubbly, cute chick sends him candy kisses and tells him to smile?! What is that all about? When she Friend Zones him, he's even more confused at his reaction to her. It's as if she threw down the gauntlet and suddenly, he feels challenged.

"Tina must be a fairy or some shit. I've never been affectionate. In fact, the thought of being affectionate used to make me sneer. But it's different with her. Most women who hug or rub up against me in public want to be seen with me or want something from me. Tina, though, you can see it in her face when she hugs you, it's genuine. It's her emotions bieng put out there on display and she doesn't care who sees."

The Bad:

Sometime after the 60% mark, Tina turns all girlie and giggly and cries an awful lot. I get tired of the word "giggle" fairly quickly. And even though the thing that I originally loved about Tina was her cute-ness, the cute wore off after awhile and she started to seem airheaded and weepy. The girl cried buckets!!!

Overall, this was a fun, sexy little romance that mostly engaged me throughout the entire story. I'm very much looking forward to Ghost and Natalie's story.
Profile Image for Sali.
211 reviews64 followers
April 19, 2013

I don't even know how to explain this to u all !!

No !!! It made me feel GREAT !!!

This book had EVERYTHING I needed right now :)

It was soooooo freaking cute that I wanted to pinch it's cheeks & blow raspberry's on its tummy !!!!

The cast of characters were refreshing & wonderful !!! Each were unique & individual . The girls were funny & sassy .... They were like a mix between watching a friends tv show & kristen Ashley's rock chicks !!!

The guys ......ohhhh the guuuyysss !!!!
HOT !!! That's the 1st word I MUST USE LOL
They were all plagued with heart break in different ways , all bad-boy beautiful .......& did I mention HAWT !!!

Together they make a beautiful band of misfits that fit together PERFECTLY !!!

This book made me giggle & snort laughing :)
It made me swoon & .... Ummm ... Wiggle in my seat over some of the ....shall we say "adult moments" ;)
BUT it also made me cry !!
Don't judge me !!!!
There was a piano & singing involved !!!
& don't even get me started on the crunchy peanut butter cupcake thing !!!
( u will know what I mean WHEN u read this book ! )

I have read sooooo many books lately that are full of so much angst & sadness & drama ....although I do LUV that , I think that is what made this book soooooo bloody refreshing !!!
This book is about beautiful people & wonderful friendships & a love story that just made me want to grab some Pom poms & do a happy dance !!!

THANKU BELLA AURORA for giving me a book buzz that will last a year !!!

U left me feeling nothing but satisfaction !!!
For this I bow down my fangirl head to u :)

Now stop reading my review & GO BUY THIS BOOK !!!! Lol
Profile Image for Zakirrah BookBlogger.
293 reviews172 followers
August 20, 2013
5 Amazing Stars!!

"Oh. My. God.
Angels must have broken out in song when this man was born. I feel like breaking out in song.
He is so handsome"

This book had a little bit of everything in it.I was hooked on it the moment i started reading and yes i stayed up late to finish this book and it was soooo worth it!

It is a story about Tina who has moved from California to New York a few years back to get away from the past that still haunts her she owns a boutique opposite a club called The White Rabbit.She watches a gorgeous man come out 3 times to take his cigarette break and he never smiles.One day she decides to send him candy wax lips and a note.

“Smile sometime, handsome.”

Nik the owner of The White Rabbit doesn't date and is upfront about what he wants.He is curious and wants to know who sent the candy and has told his brother Max to find out who sent them and bring them to him.

Cute girls wanna kiss. I don’t do that shit. Kissing means special things like relationships and girlfriends. And I don’t have relationships or girlfriends. I have fuck buddies. Because I fuck. Often. I most definitely don’t make love. I might not screw hard all the time but even slow screwing is just screwing.

He thinks Tina is after a relationship and is shocked when she just wants to be friends..

“So we can be friends, right?”
Wait, what?
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
Did I..? Did I just get Friend-zoned?

Nik and Tina struggle to hide their feelings for each other.They just want to be friends right?

“Tell me you want this as much as I do.”

I love all the characters in this book they are amazing!


Tina is a funny woman she makes people smile and everyone loves her..well other than She-devil Sissy :D She is a warm and kind but also broken due to an incident that happened in her past..


Ahh Nik he is awesome he is charming..He had a rough time as a kid he had to grow up fast and has demons to overcome, his past life is never too far away I love all the guys Max,Ghost and Trick and the girls Mimi,Nat and Lola!

Ohhh i just found out the next book is about Ghost and Nat!


Check out my blog for more reviews!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zakirr...
Profile Image for AJ.
2,804 reviews913 followers
November 8, 2014
I love a good friends-to-lovers story, but I suspect I may be too cynical for such a sweet book. While I really liked the premise, and the way that the story played out, I found the heroine irritatingly sweet and thought parts of it were really corny.

Tina sees the best in everybody, she wants to help everybody, she’s affectionate, and loving, and sees the bright side of every situation. Yeah, these are good qualities to have, but it was just a bit much for me. She was so annoyingly perfect, and everybody instantly adored her. It’s irritating, and I found I couldn’t take her seriously. But again, that’s just me and my clearly pessimistic opinion.

Tina owns a clothing store, and has often noticed the guy working at a nightclub across the street from her shop. He’s smoking hot, but always looks so serious. So in one of her good samaritan moves, she sends him some candy with a note to try and make him smile.

Nik is the Owner / Manager of the White Rabbit nightclub. He has been taken advantage of by women in the past – trying to trap him or just wanting him for his money - so is understandably very wary of Tina’s gesture.

“I don’t have relationships or girlfriends. I have fuck buddies. Because I fuck. Often. I most definitely don’t make love. I might not screw hard all the time but even slow screwing is just screwing.”

He has Tina escorted over to his office so that he can figure out her motives and he gets the shock of his life when he meets beautiful, big-hearted woman, and discovers that she's actually geniuine. Figuring she wants a relationship with him, he is getting to let her down gently when she comes out with this…

“So we can be friends, right?”
Wait, what?
I stare at her, a frown forming at my mouth.
Did I..? Did I just get Friend-zoned?

What follows is a rapidly moving, quickly deepening friendship where Tina burrows her way into every facet of Nik’s life. She bakes for him and his boys, she invites him to lunch, she gives him hugs, and he surprisingly finds himself enjoying spending time with her. Pretty soon his boys and her girls are completely intertwined, hanging out, having fun, hooking up, and becoming somewhat of a family. It’s really sweet, but again I found bits of it to be cheesy (the guys teasing each other and calling each other "knucklehead", excessive amounts of giggling and sing-alongs around the piano… really?).

Things started to pick up for me when Tina and Nik realise that they are wildly attracted to each other.

Thinking about Tina.
Thinking about Tina’s perfect ass.
Thinking about Tina panting under me in bed.
Going to the bathroom to jerk off.

I walk back into my office after finally getting some much needed relief.
Not hard anymore, are you?! Take that, penis!

It’s a beautifully natural progression from friends to more, and even though there are a few false starts, their feelings for each other just continue to grow, and I was cheering as things finally started to happen.

“You and me, Tina. It’s gonna happen … Mark my words, baby.”

Tina’s background is truly devastating. She has been through hell, and is still recovering from a horrific trauma in her past. I understood her feelings about entering a new relationship, but I loved how brave she was, and how she was able to move forward from all that she had suffered.

“I don’t know how much is left of my heart to break but I know enough to say next time would destroy me. Right now I’m bent, not broken. Next time will break me. I don’t need a perfect relationship. I just need someone who won’t give up on me.”

Nik has never had a relationship before, and I loved watching him realise his feelings as he falls and falls hard for Tina.

“Never met anyone like her in my life. So giving with her heart. I’ll do anything to protect that heart. I want it to be mine to protect.”

And oh, holy hotness! Belle Aurora writes a great love scene, and there is plenty of steaminess in this book! Nik is clearly talented, and I liked that Tina was able to let loose and show a bit of a teasing side when she and Nik were together.

But along with the burgeoning relationship, Nik has some darkness in his past that comes back to wreak havoc in his future, and I liked this part of the story. It brings some depth, and provides the opportunity for some badassery which I really enjoyed.

But it’s all about the romance, and I loved that. Nik is so full of swoon, and the two of them are so in love, completely accepting of each other and absolutely there for each other, and I loved them together.

“You’re it. The one. The start. The finish. You are how my story ends.”

I also liked the big group of characters. This is a really close bunch and there is a bit of detail given about ‘the boys’ and ‘the girls’, and I feel like I know some of them well already. The set up is already beginning for their relationships, and I’m excited to go on with the series and read their stories.

So many people love this series, and I can absolutely see the appeal. The sweetness and cheese was almost too much for me in the beginning, and I considered putting it down, but it was the fact that so many people adore these books, and the promise of the romance to come that kept me going. And I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed the love story aspect of the book, and although both Tina and Nik had moments of stupid, it was resolved well, and they got their HEA which was again really cheesy, but it still left me smiling.

3 stars.
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1,730 reviews533 followers
July 11, 2013
Review @ Under the Covers

Valentina Tomic, Tina to her friends, has watched the unbelievably hunky man who works across the street from her shop come out for his break three times a day, not once has he cracked a smile. She decides to try and brighten up his day. She never knew that some sweets and a note would lead to her actually becoming friends with him, even if what she starts to feel for him does starts to bat him out the friend zone.

I got this book on the off chance, I felt like taking a gamble and trying out an author I hadn't read before. And I really liked the cover. I am immensely pleased with myself that I took that chance! I loved this book, it was funny, sexy and incredible sweet without being nauseating. Friend-zoned is essentially about two unlikely people meeting and becoming friends but then trying to get the transition from friends to much more, maybe not an original story line but that didn't stop me from enjoying the hell out of this book.

The relationship between Nik and Tina was incredibly sweet, I loved how close they became, the connection between them really shone out the pages and the sexual tension seemed to build up naturally till I was dying for them to just rip each others clothes off and get their freak on. But, as well as a lovable central couple Friend-zoned also built up a great group of secondary characters, Nik and Tina's friends, and the whole group meshed really well together and I can't wait to read more about each of one them.

The humour in this book also stood out for me, if you are a Tara Sivec or R.L. Mathewson fan, then I reckon you will love this, they all have sarcastic bantering humour that I certainly know I love. The only part of the book that felt odd to me was some random gangster stuff that gets thrown in in the middle of the book. It was either completely unrealistic or mobsters are a lot friendlier than the modern age gives them credit for. But even a few random mob guys couldn't dampen my enjoyment of this book.

This was a fantastic read, light, funny but with an emotional punch and characters that connected not just with their HEA but displayed a whole host of different types of relationships. I have now found a new author for me to follow, as I definitely plan on getting whatever Ms Aurora brings out next.
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