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It all started with a pinky swear…

Linden McGregor is tall, rugged, and gunslinger handsome; a helicopter pilot with a Scottish brogue and charm to spare. He’s also one of Stephanie Robson’s best friends and has fit into that box for as long as she’s known him.

But some relationships can’t be boxed, can’t be classified, can’t be tamed.

Back in their mid-twenties and tired of the competitive hit-or-miss dating scene of San Francisco, Steph and Linden made a pact to marry each other if neither one of them are in a serious relationship by the time they hit thirty.

It sounds like fun and games but as the years to thirty tick past and lovers come and go out of their lives, the pact becomes larger than life.
Sex is inevitable. Friendships are tested. Hearts are on the line.

The pact is about to change everything.

287 pages, Paperback

First published December 27, 2014

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About the author

Karina Halle

131 books15.7k followers
Karina Halle is a screenwriter, a former music & travel journalist, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of River of Shadows, A Nordic King, and The Royals Next Door, as well as seventy other wild and romantic reads. She holds a Bachelors degree in Journalism.

She, her musician husband, and their adopted pit bull, Bruce, live in a rainforest on an island off the coast of British Columbia during the summer, and in Los Angeles in the winter. For more information, visit www.authorkarinahalle.com/books.

Halle is represented by Root Literary and is both self-published, and published by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, and Montlake. Her books have been published in numerous languages around the world.

Karina isn't on Goodreads and does NOT check her messages here - please contact her via Instagram (@authorhalle) instead :)

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Profile Image for Christy.
3,756 reviews32k followers
July 4, 2015

The Pact is LIVE!!!!!

5 Cowboy & Baby Blue stars!

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Life follows many directions and hopefully, eventually, your mind and body and life and love, all will catch up with each other.

The Pact is a beautiful friends to lovers story thats fun, sweet, sexy and a little angsty. When I think of books like this, Karina Halle isn’t the author I picture writing them. She does action and suspense, she does raw and gritty, she does emotion to the extreme, and she does all that very well. But guess what? Karina Halle is one of those authors that can write anything. That is some true talent. The Pact is a different type of book for her, but it happens to be one of my favorites she’s written.

The Pact is a story about two best friends in their mid twenties. Linden and Steph. Marrying your best friend if neither of you are seriously committed by the time your thirty seems like a good plan, right?

It all started with a pinky swear...

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“How about if we don’t find anyone by age, I dunno, thirty, we marry each other?”

“You’re actually serious”


Through the years, this couple goes through it all. They both have serious and not so serious relationships. They have their ups and downs. Stephanie takes a big leap with her career and Linden is right by her side- her primary source of support. No matter what happens between them, one thing remains the same. They are best friends.

Thirty is right there. They are both seeing someone. A trip between friends. Linden, Stephanie, their other best friend James and all the significant others. And a game of truth or dare.

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Feelings come out. Things change. The pact is still in effect?
Maybe I would take that chance and turn him into something more than a friend. But there lies the problem. How do you ensure someone feels the same way about you without telling them how you feel?

Okay, this is one of those books. One of those books where I LOVE both the hero and the heroine equally. How often does that happen? Not very often for me. Stephanie was an incredible heroine. I adored her. Her confidence, her strength, she was a fabulous friend and fun and spunky. Then there was my dear Linden. He was just wonderful. I loved how hard he loved his baby blue. Even though he didn’t always know what to do or how to express himself, he always had the best intentions at heart.
I just want to be everything to her. I want to be the best and her only. I want to make her want me, crave me, yearn for me, all the fucking time. I want her to know what it’s like to want and I want to know what it’s like to be wanted by her.

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While these two are discovering who they are and what they want, they are also discovering that maybe friendship isn’t the only thing between them. Maybe they can have it all. Just maybe, The Pact they made all those years ago could turn into the real thing. But there is something- or someone who makes it difficult.

I can imagine that falling hard for your best friend has to be one of the scariest things to do. You are risking so much if things don’t work out. It’s not just a broken heart. Losing that one person that you count on to always be there for you, who loves you no matter what. It’s scary. But sometimes love is worth the risk.

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This is one of my favorite contemporary romances I’ve read this year. I loved this spin on the classic friends to lovers story. Both of the characters were amazing. I loved that it was light and fun, but had just enough heavy and angst to keep my heart racing and get me worked up. It was super sexy and steamy and just an all round great read. If you’re looking for a fresh standalone romance with captivating writing, lovable characters and an ending that will leave you smiling for days, pick this one up! It’s going straight to my favorites list!

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Life leaves scars. Sometimes you don’t see them until later. Sometimes you don’t know where they’ve come from. Sometimes they fade before your eyes. But the world leaves its mark on us.

Profile Image for Kristen.
830 reviews4,718 followers
October 29, 2015
DNF at 82%

I can't take anymore.

I normally don't rate books I haven't finish but this one annoyed me to such a degree that I couldn't help but give it one star.

I wish I had waited for more reviews to be posted before buying and starting this book. If I had, I would have quickly realized this story wasn't for me. I'm not a fan of plots where the main couple spend a good portion of the book in relationships with other people, use contrived scenarios to keep the romance from progressing, or feature heroes so weak they forget they have a pair of balls. The actual writing was good but to say the plot didn't work for me is an understatement.
Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.8k followers
December 31, 2014

^^^ that's who the author cast as the hero!! *swoon*

If you're looking for a new book to fall in love with, this friend-to-lovers romance was fun, hot, a little angsty, and kept me glued to the page from the minute I started until the end!! I loved it!

Linden and Steph were best friends since they first met and were both tired of a never ending stream of bad dates. So one day, when they were both in their mid-twenties, they made a pact and agreed that if neither of them were committed to someone by the age thirty, they’d marry each other. They even pinky swore.

“If neither of us are in a serious relationship by the time we are both thirty,” he says, looking at me so dead in the eye that I can’t help but hold my breath, “then we agree to marry each other. Agree?”

I find my voice. “Agree."

It started out as just a fun agreement, but as the years ticked by, life went on, boyfriends and girlfriends passed... Linden remained hopeful, Steph remained skeptical, and the pact began to become more and more real until suddenly they were thirty and it was time to decide!

“I want her to realize we’re both not with the people we should be. And if she already knows that, I want her to know it’s not too late.”

Okay, seriously guys, Linden McGregor was pure swoon! Holy heart-melt!! He was a tall, sexy, rugged dirty-talking helicopter pilot with a Scottish accent. He'd wanted Steph from the first time he met her but unfortunately, one of his friends asked her out first, and he never got a chance to tell her how he truly felt. She never knew just how badly he truly wanted her or how serious he was about the pact.

“I’d give up everything for you.”

I genuinely couldn't put this book down. It's a full length novel but I flew through it in a few hours because I just kept flipping those pages and didn't want to stop. I loved the characters and I really liked how this wasn't just a fairy-tale "boy meets girl and they get married" romance. I liked that it addressed the ins-and-outs of dating and the struggle to find the right person. I'll admit though, while I was reading it, I did find it a little hard to read about them with other people, but I was enjoying the book enough that it wasn't a big deal. But actually the author's note at the end really made me re-think all that and looking back, I can appreciate it even more.

“That was real. That was something. Tell me you felt something, that you felt what I felt.”

“What did you feel?” I whisper.

He runs a thumb across my lips. “I felt you. The you I’ve always wanted.”

The story is told in dual POV showing us what they both went through over the years. There was a great balance between light-hearted fun and a more angsty side. There were times when I seriously just wanted to drag them both off and lock them in a room together until they admitted their undying love for each other... and there was another time where I definitely wanted to shake some sense into a certain someone... but the story was so fast paced that it wasn't long before my romantic heart was satisfied.

“Don’t act like you haven’t been thinking about that kiss every single day since it happened. Don’t pretend you haven’t thought once about what it would be like to do it again. To do more.”

Once they gave themselves the green light to be together, things were pretty explosive between them. Hot, steamy, sexy. Years of pent-up UST and hidden feelings suddenly came to the surface, but with natural wariness too -- could friends last as lovers, and even more?

"This is huge, isn’t it?”

He cocks his head and grins, nodding his head. “Well, the ladies seem to think so.”

I roll my eyes… “I’m serious,” I tell him. “One minute we’re just friends and the next…”

“The next I’m kissing you. And I realize I’ve been a fool for not doing it sooner.”

Honestly, this was a really great read. I loved that it was a standalone that gave us the whole story at once. I couldn't put it down, loved the characters, the writing was addictive and I'd definitely recommend it!

"Nine years. I've been waiting nine years for this. Nine years to finally have you the way I've always needed you."

Rating: 4 -- 4.5 stars! Standalone Adult romance.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
January 12, 2015
"If I seem to recall, you had your tongue down some tiny chick's throat half the night."
"Tongue in the throat, cock in the c**t, it's all the same," he says.

You know, I really do like a lot of Halle's novels - especially Sins & Needles, Shooting Scars and Dirty Angels - I like them because they're dark, gritty and push boundaries. I like the unlikable characters. And I especially admire Halle's talent for creating flawed female protagonists who get drunk, make mistakes and sleep with all the wrong guys.

But, in the end, this is a romance novel. The central plot is about getting Steph and Linden together and, therefore, my enjoyment of the novel kind of hangs on my ability to care about their relationship and whether they'll fall in love, have hot sex, or just drive each other crazy.

And I didn't. Care, that is.

To summarize, the book is about two best friends who have made a pact to marry one another if both are not in serious relationships by the time they reach thirty. When they made the promise, did they mean it? Only time will tell. I think it should be mentioned that I never got the sense that Linden and Steph had a remotely platonic relationship; Steph was drooling over Linden on the first page and Linden would have gladly slept with Steph, given the opportunity. It was never a "best friends turned lovers" thing for me, but a "two people who flirt with each other for a long time finally act upon it" kind of thing.

The book gets an extra star for Steph. Because like all the other female characters Halle creates, I liked her. Maybe "like" isn't even the word, but I was interested in her story and cared when bad stuff happened to her. I looked forward to her chapters way more than Linden's and I liked how insecure, imperfect but ultimately strong she could be.

But I pretty much hated Linden. And I think that's worse than not liking the female narrator for someone like me - an heterosexual female reading a romance novel. I'm supposed to LUST after him. But no. For one thing, he was a dick who made me nauseous with sentences like the one I quoted above. For another, was he any different than any other beautiful, smart, rich, arrogant asshole that appears in NA books?

Here's the description of him:

Linden McGregor is funny, kind, smart, handsome and ambitious. He's got a BA in business and is almost done getting his helicopter pilot's license. He's one hot package that any girl would be lucky to snatch up.
But he's also egotistical, cocky, arrogant and a player.

*yawn* I could go find myself a cardboard cutout that's more interesting.

I forced myself to finish just to get to the conclusion that I knew was inevitable. But I didn't give the slightest damn about Linden, nor did I find him attractive, so their relationship did nothing for me. Sucks.

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Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,026 followers
December 31, 2014
1.5 stars!

Here's the thing: I love the friends-to-lovers trope. It's my catnip. No lie. Just look at my Read shelf here on GR. I love them. I usually devour them and they always -- well, almost always work for me. It's fairly hard for me to dislike a book with this trope because no matter how silly or improbable the situations are, I always end up liking them. In other words, I don't think I could ever dislike a book with this trope. It's almost impossible.

I was wrong. The Pact just proved it.

First off, I didn't feel any connection between Linden and Steph. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Zip. I didn't feel the connection between them as friends, I certainly didn't feel a connection between them as lovers.

For this trope to work for me, I have to be convinced of their friendship. I have to feel their connection as friends or else the friends-to-lovers tag is kind of a moot point, isn't it? Linden and Steph as friends was just meh. Which made their transition to lovers even more awkward.

Second, speaking of awkward, the whole 'I like you and want you but cannot be with you' schtick they going throughout the book was a joke. I mean, seriously? They were definitely hot for each other. That much was evident right on the first page but they're not together because what exactly? Because of James? It's fuckin' juvenile.

Third, which happens to be the reason why I couldn't get into this book, was they spent 44% of the book banging other people. 44%!! This isn't a friends-to-lovers book, more like friends-with-other-lovers. Suffice it say, my enthusiasm was pretty much shot after I had to force myself to finish this honestly.

I just don't like to read about the two MCs being in a relationship with other people like that especially when I'm supposed to believe they are everything to each other. And the secrecy thing was, again, juvenile. I had to remind myself that these were 30-year old characters because their reason for keeping their relationship a secret was so eye-roll worthy. I mean, really?

And correct me if I'm wrong but I really thought they were going to get married once they reach 30 years old and they are not with other people. Turns out, they were just going to sleep together and try it out and see where it leads them. It would have probably been more interesting if they truly got married at the start of the book and go from there.


Profile Image for Karina Halle.
Author 131 books15.7k followers
December 23, 2014
A full-length, standalone, sweet and sexy (oh my lord, Linden) friends-to-lovers romance. It's not new adult, since the characters are in their thirties, but that still doesn't mean you have a clue what you're doing when it comes to love. That shit messes you up at any age.

This was a joy to write, a lot of fun, and I hope you all enjoy it too :)

Note: there are no crazy mindfucks, plot twists, people being raped or killed or dying for no reason or totally heart-wrenching scenes that will leave you crying for days after. This is NOT that kind of book. There is a hero with a dirty talking mouth though (18+)

Coming: December 28th, maybe earlier, on Amazon. Due to holiday scheduling, it won't be on B&N, iTunes or Kobo until around the 30th (but it *will* be available on all platforms).
Profile Image for Brandi.
628 reviews1,279 followers
June 4, 2015
4.5 Stars


The Pact was a fast-paced, friends to lovers romance with a little twist. It was light, fun, and steamy with just a enough emotional turmoil to satisfy my need for angst. This was an enjoyable read for me, with likable characters (with the exception of 'he who shall not be named')and a storyline that kept my heart racing.


Linden and Stephanie are best friends, and in their mid-twenties, neither one is having much luck in the love game, so Linden suggest a pact.

“How about if we don’t find anyone by age, I dunno, thirty, we marry each other?”

“You’re actually serious”


As the years go by, these two friends go through ups and downs in love and life. Now with thirty approaching, a weekend trip and a game of truth or dare changes everything. It's time to get honest and feelings are revealed. What happens when you fall for your best friend? Do you take a chance, is it worth the risk?

“You’re my everything. And there’s nothing that will change that.”

I was pulling for Linden and Stephanie from the beginning. He was a bit cocky with a dirty mouth and a sweet side, while she was confident and spunky. I did get a bit frustrated with Mr. Linden, but in the end he made it up to me ;)

Thanks for the gift, Jennifer!! Love you! <33
Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,358 reviews4,606 followers
December 29, 2014
3.5 ARGH Stars

***Spoilerish Ranty Review***

This book is a hard one for me to rate. The writing was strong and flowed beautifully and I enjoyed the first eighty percent up till that point it was somewhere in the 4 plus star realm.

”I just want to be everything to her. I want to be the best and her only. I want to make her want me, crave me, yearn for me, all the fucking time. I want her to know what it’s like to want and I want to know what it’s like to be wanted by her.”

The story in a nutshell is that Stephanie used to date James (emo moody ass) and dumped him like nine years ago but they remained friends along with Linden. Linden has secretly wanted Stephanie since the day he laid eyes on her. Linden makes the let’s get married at thirty pact and so the years progress to five years later.

Linden and Stephanie can't resist the pull they have and so they decide to fall into one another and keep it SECRET.


Linden gets the girl, he is living on the love high for the first time in his life. The sex is great, she is the one for him but he never did come up with a plan to deal with James... Linden knew James had harbored feelings for Stephanie and so how in 9 YEARS did he never come up with a James Plan and ducking out was all he came up with?

”I think we should…we need…to go back to being friends. Just friends.”


I mean how good of a friend is James to Linden and Stephanie and do they even like him?


So here on out, things didn’t work for me at all. Linden never really went for her, and the The ending just didn’t wow me, James sucked, Linden was a wimp and Javier should pumped all their asses full of lead.

Overall, a fast well written read that many friends have enjoyed in whole so don’t just take my word for it.
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,437 followers
December 30, 2014
2.5 Stars!


Well that was......

I was a bit hesitant to read this one to begin with. I feared the angst but I liked the premise. Sadly there was only about 20% of the book I did like.

My first problem was the fact that Linden and Steph spend the first 45% of the book......sleeping with other people!

Most of the time they weren't even together, even to hang out.

Secondly.....James, James, James!

I did not like James at all, not once at any point during the entire book. And especially not at the end when he became the biggest dick on the planet.

And speaking of the whole premise, where did it go? I mean I loved the idea of a pact. If Linden and Steph are both single when they're 30 they'll marry each other. What happened to the damn pact??

I knew things were going to go downhill when things were so rosy at 56%. I mean 44%....a lot of shit can happen. And boy did it.


FFS....that was the lamest breakup in the history of all breakups. I just didn't buy in to the whole bros before hos bit!

From there things just spiraled out of control. One bad choice after another all wrapped up with a rushed ending.

And for the 20% of the book I did like......

Yep, the 20% Linden and Steph were actually a couple.

Le sigh
Profile Image for Jeanne .
303 reviews
September 13, 2015

2.5 stars

To my buddy read friends, :))

I can't believe I didn't end up liking this book. Karina Halle is my favorite author if you consider that I've given 15 of her books 5 star ratings. I basically rated the entire EIT series as well as the Artist's trilogy 5 stars. This is why it kills me to give one of her books a low rating. It just wouldn't be me to not be honest, in addition to the fact that this book in my opinion is not a great representation of what she is capable of writing. I don't think it would be fair to rate this the same as her work that I truly love, but I still feel sad about it. *sniff:(*

**** Spoiler Alert****

So, as you can see from my status updates, I started out loving this book. I was fine with the angst in the beginning, because I thought it was great build-up for what was to come. The book went downhill for me at 40% and never recovered.

***Serious spoiler alert***

I'll just say it. After 9 years of pining for each other, I thought it was really dumb that their first kiss was over a truth or dare game. Are they in high school?? It was just a big disappointment. I was expecting amazing, fireworks, butterflies. Instead I was rolling my eyes. It just seemed silly.

Sadly, the sex scenes even fell flat for me. For the first time ever, I thought they were cheesy and cliche. The dialogue was cringe worthy. I mean, my expectations were probably too high because this is the author who wrote the TENT scene, the MUD scene. Remember that??? Ms Halle is capable of writing smoking hot, emotional, unforgettable love scenes. I was expecting so much more, because again, they were secretly in love with each other for 9 years. Where is the passion? It was a lot of cheese,

" I want to fuck your wet cunt so good baby."

" Her eyes and how they glowed like a summer's morning after she came."

"It's the most gorgeous penis I've ever seen and it makes me wish I could paint because I could have a whole gallery devoted to the beauty of his dick and I would consistently sell out of all my paintings."

**insert eye roll***

It was painfully obvious that this book was slapped together quickly, because it was also an editing mess.

Don't even get me started on the last 20%. I don't want to talk about it.

I feel bad now. *sniff* I'm still a fan, and can't wait to read her next book!

Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,370 reviews963 followers
December 30, 2014
LIVE -> http://amzn.to/1HTAgbC

It all started with a pinky swear…


THE PACT is a friends to lovers storyline with a few bumps along the way. Three best friends, 2 guys and a girl, started hanging out in their early twenties. A marriage pact is formed on Linden and Stephanie's 25th birthday that if either of them haven’t gotten serious with anyone by the time they’re thirty they will marry each other.

Sounds easy enough, right? But throw in their other friend, James, who had first dated Steph back in their early twenties and you get FRUSTRATION. James isn’t a supporter of this “pact” and with each passing year he causes angst as it gets closer to their pending 30th birthday.

I ended up pulling out my ‘junk punching gif’ for Linden. I haven’t used that gif since I read about Will Cooper in 2012. Linden made me want to hurt him and beyond that I lost trust in him. When I finished The Pact I ranted to my husband about what happened and he asked me to stop talking about it. *lol* I guess he didn’t find it as “newsworthy” as I did. Luckily, I have my goodread friends to discuss this book with. It’s nice to hear everyone’s opinions on certain situations that happened in this book.

Ms. Halle is one of my favorite authors. I love her writing style and the emotions she is able to make me feel while I read her books. She’s my most read author and I appreciate that even though this isn’t a five star,for me, I was still pulled into the story and rode the rollercoaster. The range that Ms. Halle writes romance books is impressive....from horror to contemporary. She has a vast audience because she appeals to all kinds of readers. If you haven’t tried her books take a look at everything she has to offer -> list of Ms. Halle's books.


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Profile Image for Catarina.
896 reviews1,947 followers
January 1, 2015
3,5 Baby Blue Stars.

The title of this book is pretty self-explanatory. Two best friends make a pact when they turn 25 years: if neither of them gets married until then, they will get married to each other when they reach thirty. They made this as a joke, but deep inside both of them want it to be real.
Until they finally reach thirty and the pact has to be fulfilled, and when feelings they thought to hidden start to surface everything will change. But if they don’t learn how to deal with those feelings, the pact that was made to get them together, may be the thing who will set them apart for good.


This is one of those books where I seriously struggled to decide a rating. For some reason I have of loyalty to Karina Halle. She’s one of my favorite authors, she writes marvelously and it was really hard for me to give her less than 4 stars.
I was pending between 3 and 4, because while I enjoyed the second half of the book, the first half wasn't definitely my cup of tea. Reading a book where during 50% of it the main couple is in relationships with other people and refuse to admit their feelings doesn’t work for me. If it hadn't picked up I would probably even hadn't finished it. But giving it 4 stars seemed unfair to the other books I gave that rating, without having to struggle with it and liking them way more, so I stuck to the middle. I’m probably being unfair (but oh well, reviews are subjective and sometimes unfair), because my rating is clearly a plot “itch” of mine, so if you haven’t the same problem as me, you may probably love the book!


Rating: 3,5 Stars.
Characters Development: First let me say that I hated James. He was an asshole of a friend, and tried to redeem in the end doesn’t forgive what he’s done. Steph wasn’t bad, but she wasn’t good either. She lacked some personality and I didn’t understand why she just go from date to date trying to bury her feelings for Linden. And Linden? He was sexy, I give you that! But being with other girls and refuse to admit his feelings over a twisted sense of loyalty, didn’t sit well with me. Seriously, “Bros before hoes” stops making sense when you reach 18. After that you resolve that kind of problems with TALKING LIKE ADULTS.
Steam: Hot.
Sensible Subjects:
Love Triangle:
Profile Image for ~♡AB♡~.
975 reviews665 followers
December 28, 2014
★★★★★ 5 Stars ★★★★★


Oh my lordy, this was an amazing, beautiful and sexy read - it was an angsty friends to lovers story that gave me the feels in all the right places.

Linden McGregor is a sexy Scottish helicopter pilot and is best friends with both James and Stephanie. Living in San Fran, they are a threesome in their mid - late thirties who are navigating life and dating. Whilst drinking one night, Linden & Stephanie make a pact that if they are both single by the time they hit 30, they will marry each other.

Told in a dual POV, we live through the turmoil of being extremely attracted to the other, but too scared to act on it. They are not only scared of being rejected by the other, but also of hurting their friend James and being disloyal to the fact that James and Steph were once a couple years previous.

Years fly by and it's not long before they realise that they are settling for second best and there is no denying the chemistry that they have together.

I loved the shit out of Linden, there is no way you can't fall in love with him, and Karina is the queen of writing strong, confident and sexy heroines and Steph was no exception. The steam level is off the charts, when these two finally get together, and after the angsty build up and delicious tension it was well worth it. Lots of fun, a few kindle throwing moments and a few tears towards the end, it was a sure rollercoaster.

I highlighted this book to death, so many great quotes and superb writing, but I'll leave you with this.

"Life leaves scars. Sometimes you don't see them until later. Sometimes you don't know where they've come from. Sometimes they fade before your eyes. But the world leaves its mark on us."

Fabulous - I loved it!

p.s This book was conceived on 19th November 2014 and published on 28th December, can I just say that that is an amazing feat and a big applause to the author :D


You know when you are a book addict when the highlight of your day is waking up Christmas morning to find out you've won an ARC of a book you want to read badly by one of your favourite authors ♥♥

Merry Christmas lovelies x
Profile Image for Beverly.
1,005 reviews800 followers
May 23, 2015
5 Pinky Swear Stars

I feel like I am like a little share bear lately, but oh well, here goes! I met my husband when I was eighteen years old, right out of high school. He was the “shift leader” at the video store were we worked. Now that special title earned him $6.75 vs my $6.25 an hour so I knew I had to make him mine. Kidding. In all seriousness, I don’t believe in love at first sight, but the second I saw him I knew I would marry him. It makes no sense, I was eighteen and wasn’t even thinking of getting married, but I knew.

So when I read the story of Linden and Stephanie it just brought back so many things for me…the good and the bad, but in the end I fell in love with their story.

Linden and Stephanie met at work and there was in instant attraction, however, she ended up dating his best friend instead. James and Stephanie didn’t workout, but in the meantime James, Stephanie and Linden formed a forever kind of friendship. Things continued to move on for the trio, lots of horrible dates, bad jobs, and other real life problems came and went. At the age of twenty five the Stephanie and Linden decided to make a Pact.

"How about if we don’t find anyone by age, I dunno, thirty, we marry each other?

Pinky swear on it. You know I don’t break those.”

Over the next five years the two go through lots of ups and downs. They date other people, reach their career goals, and life continues to move forward. Until the time comes when they both turn thirty.

Coming together isn’t easy for these two. There is a risk of losing his two best friends and that alone is scary for most people, but Linden doesn’t have anyone except his friends. His parents are distant at best and disappointed in his life choices. His brother is partying playboy who has never taken life or relationships seriously, so while for some people this may seem like no big deal for someone with nothing it is huge.

For me it was well worth the wait, because Linden is seriously one of the hottest dirty talkers I have ever read. I loved the scenes with Linden and Steph, smoking freaking hot and terribly sweet…perfection combination!

You are probably wondering what happened to me and husband, since I am so wildly fascinating. (LOL) You may be thinking we dated, got married immediately, and lots of little Beverly’s…nope because real life isn’t always like that. Real life is messy, rocky, and it sucks sometimes. My husband and I dated for 2 months and broke up. Months later we became best friends and we watched each other date other people for two years. Then when the time was right we came back to each other, and I married my best friend. It has been eight years and I have never regretted any of those choices because it led me here.

Linden and Stephanie’s story isn’t pretty. Things got ugly, people got hurt and I got pissed off, but in the end I was able to connect to their story and I loved that. I love a story where things are messy, unpredictable, and real; even when it causes me to get angry. I started this story late at night, read until I couldn’t stay awake another minute and went to bed. The next morning I woke up dying to know what happened, when I finished the story I kept thinking about it. I read Ms. Halle didn’t plan on writing this one, but I am so glad she did it was the perfect read for me.

Profile Image for Pavlina Read more sleep less blog  .
2,434 reviews4,562 followers
December 29, 2014
Yayyy it's live and it's 99 cents for a limited time!!!



Every time I read a new book from Karina I feel so happy..This woman is like a god for me...She is on top of my favorite authors.She is so talented!Once again, she has made me fall in love with her writing all over again!!!Now you can understand why I love her so much!!And you can imagine how I felt when I won an ARC :))
It was like a Christmas present for me!!!I start it immediately and honestly I couldn't put it down!!As always Karina has this way making her stories unique,intense and beautiful!Also she creates realistic characters that you have no other choice from to fell in love with them!!
This story I can say is one of my favorite, because is about two friends who have feelings for each other..This sure is a different story from Karina.However this didn't make it any less amazing than her other stories..The story is romantic,funny,hot,intense and sweet .


Linden,Stephanie and James are friends for so long.One night at the age of 25 Liden make a pact with Stephanie that if they are still alone when they hit 30 they will marry each other.We see through the years how things are between them. I loved how the story develops how we slowly learned about Stephanie,Linden and their friends.Sometimes having partners and other times one of them was alone...The sexual tension is so obvious between Stephanie and Linden...so you wait the moment who one of them will make the move...
Friendship is a powerful bond..But is it more powerful from love and passion?

Linden and Stephanie are two interesting and lovable characters!I liked the fact that we have dual POV so we can see what Linden thinks...Let's start about Linden..Omg I couldn't stop swooning this man...*sigh* what I can say for him???That he has a Scottish accent???That he is smart,funny and handsome??Or better I must say that he has the package of what women look in a man...He is amazing!!!He just went in top with Dex and Mateo!!! And Steph...well she is funny too and sassy!!I felt the connection from the first moment I saw them together..as friends!!


Thank you Karina for this amazing book <333 Definitely a book that I will recommend to all of my friends who wants to read something unique..

Profile Image for Mariam.
300 reviews133 followers
May 25, 2015
DNF at 60%
Yet another disappointment.
I feel so guilty for DNFing another book. I shouldn’t feel that way, should I? I should read whatever I want and stop whenever I want. I read to enjoy, not to get so goddamn angry that I have to put the book down.
Let’s talk about the situation first.
The book starts out on the heroine’s 25th birthday. She’s celebrating with her best friend, the hero, whom she’s known since she was 21. They’re both the same age.
Now, the hero has a best friend, James, who is two years older, and he used to date the heroine.
Still with me?
She broke up with him for reasons we won’t go into and now they’re…friendly.
Alright, so they are kinda drunk, they’re complaining about their shitty dating lives. So they make this pact (just read the blurb to understand what I mean).
The heroine thought he was joking. Hell, I thought he was joking, but it turns out, he’s pretty serious.
So the next chapter is when she’s twenty six, the next is when she’s twenty seven, and so on. It alternates between his and her POV.
My main problem is how much it dragged. The past was basically a quarter of the book. And I did not enjoy it. At all. It was basically about the main characters screwing other people. Which is so not my cuppa. I don’t like that sort of thing. I want the main characters together. It’s obvious they want each other, so why not just go for it?
And then there’s James, who I’m convinced is secretly a psychopath. There was something wrong with him. I could feel it.
When they’re both (finally) thirty years old, they both are in serious relationships. The hero is with this crazy bitch called Nadine. And the heroine is apparently a cougar at thirty because she’s dating a male model who is three years younger than her. Oh, and this model? He's described as fucking dumb. Shocker. Not stereotypical. At all.
Around 40ish% they both break up with their loved (not) ones. And they get together. I expected fireworks. I expected the sun to shine from the west. I expected the sky to fall. Because he’s wanted her for the last NINE YEARS and he couldn’t do anything about it because of, ya know, guy code. But hey, now it’s okay, cause James is with someone and they’ll just keep it a secret.
Honestly, the whole scene made me cringe so hard. It was just so unnatural, so awkward. The hero was all like:

“I’m going to relish every inch of your body until you’re begging for release. Then, I’m going to fuck you so hard, so good, that you’ll still feel me inside you days later.”

Ugh. I’ve read that line so many times, I’m not even fazed by it anymore. Am I the only one not swooning? It’s just making me cringe. He keeps saying I’m gonna do this and that to you. Just shut up for God’s sake. You need to take a Dirty Talk 101 lesson from Jameson Kane (look him up).
The writing was great. And any other day I would tell you that’s all that matters to me, but I just could not connect for the life of me.
I didn’t feel the love, the connection between them. I didn’t feel like the heroine was special to him. There was nothing new, you know? He already did everything else with all those other women. I felt like she was just another notch on his bedpost.
I really thought that it couldn’t get any worse than this, but oh, how wrong I was.

His dick is perfect. Just fucking perfect. I can’t stop staring at it. It’s not just that it’s massive (and in a good way, not in a spearing your uterus kind of way), but that it’s smooth and thick and long and hard and perfectly proportioned. It’s the most gorgeous penis I’ve ever seen and it makes me wish I could paint because I could have a whole gallery devoted to the beauty of his dick and I would consistently sell out of all my paintings.

Can you hear me sighing? I bet you can. He has a perfect dick. What more could I want? I’ve always wanted an arrogant man-whore who sucks at dirty talk but has the most perfect, most gorgeous penis I’ve ever seen. It’s on my list. Right after buy knuckle rings, so I can punch him in the face while wearing them.
The heroine. Well. I dunno. I didn’t hate her. Or like her. I dunno how I felt about her. Kinda indifferent. Which I guess is worst somehow. She just floated around in my imaginary box of unmemorable heroines.
It was just blah. I'm just sad I don't have a book to read now. All my hopes were on this one. Maybe my expectations were too high.
Rant over.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
269 reviews665 followers
December 30, 2014

"Nine years. I've been waiting nine years for this. Nine years to finally have you the way I've always needed you."

When I think of Karina Halle, her EiT series easily comes to my mind and I get the instant chills recalling how I nearly peed my pants reading On Demon Wings, no doubt bringing out the grit and the horror. But with The Pact that comes in a form of a fun and sexy read with a dose of angst, Karina Halle proves that she can move out from her comfort zone and still deliver.

A friends-to-lovers story and how it all begins with a pinky swear, we follow the lives of Stephanie and Linden, best friends who made a pact in their mid-twenties when their love lives seemed to be going nowhere. A pact where if none of they were committed by the age of 30, they would get married to each other. But is the pact really just words or from the heart?

"I wanted Steph. My best friend. She was my baby blue and I was her cowboy. So a pact, a foolish, naive pact, was born."

With the story pacing onwards with glimpses over the years from both POVs till the big 3-0, we got to see the different people coming in and out of their love lives, a life among their mutual friends and making important life choices. But only one thing is constant and that is their ever-loving support for each other.

And when 30 rolls around, an act of dare set the wheels into motion for both of them to finally admit that something deeper runs within their strong bond, causing them to re-evaluate their current stand.

“That was real. That was something. Tell me you felt something, that you felt what I felt.”

Walking on the fine line of best friends, I truly enjoyed seeing the interaction and witty banters between Steph and Linden. Nothing felt too rushed and you can see how their friendship slowly morphed into something more each time; the sexual glances, the accidental touches. It didn't bother me too much that they dated/slept with other people over the years because I felt it was a realistic move in terms of figuring out their lives & gave them the needed catalyst at times.

When it comes to this prose, it's always a little tricky when you want to see that their connection is just more than sex. And with this read, I got to see how their relationship grew organically and how they deeply cared for each other as friends.

"Every day, every year, feels like an evolution to the person she is now, the woman sitting beside me, especially when you scroll back to where we all started."

Both MCs were wonderful characters and would fit the bill for my wannabe bffs; sassy, sexy and fun. And my dear ladies, when it comes to Karina Halle, you can definitely count on her to bring on some of the best men in your reads! Yup there's Linden, the Scotsman who will melt your panties with his dirty talking and oh-so yummy!

"I want to tell her all the filthy things I think about, be real, raw and unfiltered. I want to make her cheeks flush from my dirty mouth and her body squirm with desire."

There were many moments in this book that sent my emotions on a tailspin; I laughed, I swooned, I got mad, I teared a little. Also expect moments that would make you want to throw people off a cliff too because boy, was I royally pissed there for a while! I love you Linden, but for a good while there you struck a nerve within me . And for that I decked out 1 star.

At this point, I really adored Steph and how she stood up to him. To have a read that sends your heart soaring in joy to later being maddened by these characters, this read nailed on delivering the all round emotions.

If you're looking for a fun and sexy light-hearted read that comes with a side of good angst and topped off with some smokin' steamy (and I mention again, dirty-talking) scenes; look no further with The Pact. It offers a great balance between the fun times and the needed angst that will keep you entertained as well as your heart racing. It's not just a romance read you'll get but also a taste of delving into some real-life issues that most of us can relate to.

And so with this, Karina Halle can surely add diversity to her list of expertise, AYE!

The Pact is a standalone contemporary adult romance read.
Profile Image for Glass.
643 reviews4 followers
January 3, 2015
Rating:2.5/3 stars
When I found out about new book by Karina Halle, I got excited. When I saw that pretty cover, I got really excited. When I read book description, I got super fucking excited.

When I finally started to read The Pact, I was all:

I can't say that I hated it - it's just that there are parts that I liked and those that made me want to pull my hair out and scream.

What I liked? Everything about that big, scary 30th birthday. I could totally relate and everything is so damn true. Society thinks that you are not young, but you're not old, too. You should act mature, pay bills, get married, have kids, stop having fun... And you still feel like a teenager sometimes. You just don't live with your parents, you can have sex whenever you want and you don't have to clean your apartment if you don't feel like it. But you still have to pay your bills.

Friends to lovers and whole pact thing was the main thing that appealed to me. Story did start good, I was waiting for two of them to finally get together, it was funny, but... it turned into overly melodramatic, angsty, trashy, Spanish soap opera kind of story.
When they finally do get together it's all

Despite all things that I didn't like, I still think it is okay read. Nothing spectacular, but a fun quick read.
Especially if you read it with a friend and laugh your asses off.
Thank you, Zemira, for buddy read!


Profile Image for Alex is The Romance Fox.
1,461 reviews1,080 followers
November 14, 2015
Having first met Linden and Stephanie in The Play….I actually didn’t read this trilogy in reading order…..I was eager to delve into their story.

Linden McGregor is a sexy and charming helicopter pilot, a loyal friend, fun to be with but he’s also egotistical, selfish, self-centered, and arrogant and spends his life having lots of meaningless and fleeting sex hookups.
Stephanie Robson is beautiful, ambitious, witty and fun.

These two have been friends for years and enjoy a close friendship.

Celebrating Stephanie’s 25th birthday, they discuss how weary and tiring it is having relationships that go nowhere. Linden makes a proposal…
It all started with a pinky swear…

 photo tumblr_lhhpeq9ccA1qcojj0o1_500_zpswnt5v1xk.gif
“If neither of us are in a serious relationship by the time we are both thirty,” he says, looking at me so dead in the eye that I can’t help but hold my breath, “then we agree to marry each other. Agree?”
I find my voice. “Agree.”

What I liked

The premise of the friends to lovers story.
The San Francisco setting
The dual POV which gives an insight into each other’s lives from the beginning of their friendship to it ending in love.
The family and friends dynamics. Linden and Stephanie’s parents are more than just dysfunctional….how on earth these two remained sane is something to admire.
The determination that Stephanie showed in making her dream come true…..opening her own fashion store and buying her own place.
How they tried to come to terms with their new relationship and worrying about the consequences…..
“This is huge, isn’t it?”
He cocks his head and grins, nodding his head. “Well, the ladies seem to think so.”
I roll my eyes… “I’m serious,” I tell him. “One minute we’re just friends and the next…”
“The next I’m kissing you. And I realize I’ve been a fool for not doing it sooner.”

The pace of the story.
The fantastic writing.

What didn’t work for me

All the drama and angst – so many times I wanted to kick Linden and Stephanie’s backsides!!!!! Why just not admit your feelings and get on it with instead of dragging it on and on.

Their friend James – I am not able to even like this guy. He was no friend to either Linden or Stephanie….his behavior and how he created a break in their relationship is totally unacceptable….never mind that in the end, he tried to mend the fences with all his apologies and sorrys!!!! What a damn pathetic reason he used for his behavior….really James!!!! Get lost!!!!

I almost started hating Linden at one point. Allowing James’s feelings towards Stephanie get in the way of their relationship and the decision he made to make things right for his best friend, James. Never mind that he breaks Stephanie’s heart!!! And the reason for his decision???? How pathetic or irrational!!!!

Hiding their relationship so they wouldn’t hurt their best friend!! So lame and stupid!!!
It’s not exactly something I could understand….Stephanie was not involved with James for the last six or seven years…..Linden didn’t steal her away from him. So what’s with this entire guilt thing???

I liked the story but didn’t love it as much as The Play.

One of my favorite quotes:

“Life isn’t a linear journey. Sometimes it’s one step backwards, two steps forward and then a jump out to the side. It’s kind of like the “Time Warp”, when you think about it.
Life follows many directions and hopefully, eventually, your mind and body and life and love, all catch up with each other.”
Profile Image for Natasha is a Book Junkie.
681 reviews7,435 followers
December 30, 2014
“The two of you in a marriage? World’s pickiest woman with the world’s biggest manwhore? Yeah, have fun with that.”

In a sea of stories about young lovers sharing their firsts—first loves, first heartbreaks, one and only forevers—there finally comes a story about single people in their early thirties desperately searching for that rare, almost illusive connection with someone that would make them feel a little less lonely in the world, a little less stranded, all the while trying to reconcile the scars from their pasts with the uncertainty of their futures. This is a story about friendships, about two best friends falling in love with each other, about the sacrifices we make in the name of those friendships, and about learning to finally see what counts the most in life. The perfect balance of sensual anticipation and character introspection, I could not put this book down for more than a few minutes at a time, these characters driving me insane and making me utterly addicted to them all at the same time. It might have all started with a premise we’ve all seen before, a scenario that is neither groundbreaking nor complex, but Ms Halle managed to put her inimitable stamp on it by giving us two imperfect characters dealing with everything that life throws their way, inevitably messing up along the way, while searching for their slice of happiness.

“I wanted Steph. My best friend. She was my baby blue and I was her cowboy. So a pact, a foolish, naïve pact, was born.”

A sexy Scottish pilot and a small clothing business owner, Linden and Stephanie have been best friends since their early twenties, their bond and affection for one another being the only constant they’ve had in their adult lives. After numerous failed relationships and dating disillusionments, they make a drunken pact with each other, sealed with a pinky swear, that if neither of them are in a serious relationship by the time they are both thirty, they would marry each other. But while they both pretend to box it all as a joke, deep down, neither of them see it that way. Or ever forget their pact.

“How do you ensure someone feels the same about you without telling them how you feel?”

Over the next five years, as they both approach their thirtieth birthdays, we get quick glimpses of the ways their lives change year after year, witnessing failed relationships and career changes, the memory of their pact ever-present on their minds. But as much as they both secretly pine after one another, neither of them is willing to admit their feelings or make the first move, fearing that such a drastic change in their relationship would eventually destroy their friendship. Until one kiss takes all their self-control away and they end up discovering that they were meant to be more than friends all along.

“You’re it, you’re it, you’re it. All this time you’ve been it.”

The long anticipation leading up to the moment they finally let go of their fears and wholeheartedly embrace their feelings for one another is paid off in spades, as we are given a truly satisfying romantic climax to make up for all the will-they-won’t-they moments leading up to it. It is racy, it is all-consuming, and it is utterly delicious, the whole element of best friends turning into lovers, of two people who already know each other so intimately crossing that ultimate line, adding an even more exciting angle to this pulse-quickening scenario.

“I’m going to relish every inch of your body until you’re begging for release. Then, I’m going to f*ck you so hard, so good, that you’ll still feel me inside you days later.”

But Linden and Stephanie have been unsuccessfully searching for love for so long that when they finally have it in their grasps, they are unable to recognize its unique beauty and thus hold onto it, allowing life to interfere and make them question themselves. This is a story about making mistakes in life and finding the courage to correct those mistakes, as much as it is a story about finding true love and never settling for anything less.

“Nine years. I’ve been waiting nine years for this. Nine years to finally have you the way I’ve always needed you. And now that I’ve had you, I want nothing else.”

Even though this author is not known for giving us fairytales wrapped up in neat little bows, this story is a slight departure from her previous style of storytelling, with a few more ‘bows’ present than usual, with a slightly ‘broader brush’ used to define these characters, and fewer moments designed to make our hearts clench, but her signature prose never disappoints and it holds us captive cover to cover. I have to admit that I missed the angst, I missed the raw emotions normally driving all of Karina Halle’s stories forward, but that is only because her extraordinary writing has made me greedy and always hungry for more. At times, I failed to truly understand these characters’ actions and what made them tick one way or another, I did not connect with any of the secondary characters in the story as they lacked clarity in my eyes and felt more as supporting acts whose actions justified those of the main characters, but none of this impacted in any significant way on my overall enjoyment of this fun, relatable, sexy tale that I devoured in one single day.

“He is my rock. He is my Linden. Always has been. Always will be.”

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Profile Image for Flo.
286 reviews593 followers
May 14, 2015
4 it really grew on me STARS

“Life isn’t a linear journey. Sometimes it’s one step backwards, two steps forward and then a jump out to the side. It’s kind of like the “Time Warp”, when you think about it.
Life follows many directions and hopefully, eventually, your mind and body and life and love, all catch up with each other.”

Oh boy. Something is not like the others, isn't it?

I honestly didn't expect for this book to turn out the way it did. I have read two books in Karina Halle's Artists Trilogy and yeah, I was a bit shocked that this one so isn't anything like that. Most authors stay in their lane and produce the same thing over and over again. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But to see Ms. Halle switching it up like this was unexpected and at the end of the day really interesting.

The Pact is a book about friendship, love, growing up (in a late 20s kind of growing up) and deciding what to do with our lives. It's a mellow and very slow read, but it grew on me and a lot of the themes hit right home. But more to that later on.

“I’m nowhere but I’m somewhere and it’s not where I want to be. I don’t really know what I want. But I know I don’t have it.”

Two best friends, Linden McGregor and Stephanie Robson at the age of twenty-five on a drunken night out make a pact. If they are both unattached and single at the age of thirty they will get married. Now keep in mind they are only friends and have never been in any kind of romantic relationship and/or hook-up together.

Steph takes it with a grain of salt but Linden on the other hand is far more serious about his proposal. What both don't know is that the friendly relationship they have had for a few years runs deeper and they both are willing to further explore. Thing is - they don't tell. 'Cause what would happen if the other one doesn't feel the same? Is it worth ruining their beautiful friendship and maybe even sacrifice other friends and relationships in the end? And the pact was just a silly idea, right?

What follows is a yearly check into the state of affairs told from both Steph's and Linden's POV.

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m falling in love with her. Sometimes I wonder how long I can pretend I’m not.”

More than once I caught myself screaming at my kindle 'seriously, you stupid people, get it together and just go for it'. It's a frustrating read. Especially with the dual POV you know how both of the feel and yet, nothing happens. They just keep jumping from one relationship to another and not with each other.

The first 30 to 40% where particularly draining, because it felt like one event stated after another. A cumulation of facts if you will. It's not until the last 40% that things get more emotional and gripping.

But what really hit home for me and what made it a very painful and self-reflecting read, are the things that don't involve their love life.
The Pact takes an in-depth look at the lives of people in their late 20s. The friendships, the decisions you make about your work life, learning how to be independent and just live, I guess.

I'm turning twenty-nine in a few weeks and I can relate. In some ways this books is written about me and my friends. It feels so familiar. How some of us succeed and others just get stuck with trying or no trying enough. And the ever looming 30 at the end of the tunnel. It's hard. I'm just glad I already found Mr. Right. ;D

“Life leaves scars. Sometimes you don’t see them until later. Sometimes you don’t know where they’ve come from. Sometimes they fade before your eyes. But the world leaves its mark on us.”

I have seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I can most certainly understand that. It's probably a bit boring and most definitely frustrating, but it's real - it's life. There is no big twist and there are no unforeseeable turns. The Pact was not like the books I normally read, but I really enjoyed it never the less.

Beautifully written, highly quotable, a wonderful love-story and it's a standalone. Wohoooooo!

Profile Image for Georgia ♥ .
420 reviews1,120 followers
January 6, 2015
4 Friends to Lovers Stars

A Pact is made....
“How about if we don’t find anyone by age, I dunno, thirty, we marry each other?”

“You’re actually serious”


And a friendship is tested.

The rest is another Karina Halle romance paradise!


Linden McGregor and Stephanie Robson our heroes are young and living their lives to the fullest. Best friends, smart, funny and striving to be successful and surpass their parents shadows. They are also perfect to each other. But Steph was once girlfriend to James, now friend to both and somehow they are stuck in an awkward limbo where they are afraid to admit to their feelings. And of course they have also The Pact. If they hit thirty and they are both single they will get married.

Young, hip, emotional and honest this novel moved me and made want to scream with sexual frustration and at the heroes to stop being chicken-ish and pull their heads out of their a@@es and admit to their feelings. Karina is changing her game with this book, delivering something fresh and romantic. And of course another memorable hero...



I won me a copy in FB!!!!


And look how pretty my copy is.... :D

Profile Image for AJ.
2,831 reviews922 followers
December 25, 2014
Sweet, funny, sexy and romantic with a heart-wrenching dose of angst, this is a gorgeous story of friends-to-lovers with that unique edginess that is all Karina Halle.

Linden and Stephanie have been best friends for years. In their mid-twenties, with both of them despondent about the state of their love lives, they make a pact that if both of them are single by the time they reach 30, they will marry each other - they even pinky swear on it!

(this is apparently Karina’s casting, and I think it’s absolutely perfect!)

I love these characters. Stephanie and Linden are both awesome. Fun-loving, funny, sarcastic and deeply caring for their loved ones, they are flawed but realistic, and the kind of people that you’d want as your own best friends. Hastily approaching their 30s, they’re still figuring their lives out – jobs, friends, family, and of course, relationships, sex and love. I thought they were totally relatable, and I could empathise with all that they were experiencing.

Everything is changing. I’m nowhere but I’m somewhere and it’s not where I want to be.
I don’t really know what I want.
But I know I don’t have it.

As the years pass, lovers come and go, and both Linden and Stephanie remain deeply involved in each other’s lives - all the time keeping their pact in mind, and their true feelings hidden - until the big 3-0 approaches and their chemistry can no longer be denied.

Sometimes, when he looks at me, I can swear something in him has changed. The glances are more intense, his eyes seem molten and charged. Sexual.
And I like it. I love it. I want it. I want there to be this change, for this to be a thing because then maybe, maybe I would act on it. Maybe I would take that chance and turn him into something more than a friend.

The story is told in dual POV, so we get up close and personal with Steph and Linden and everything that they are feeling for each other. They admit to their attraction, but they are both terrified of losing the other and of ruining not only their friendship, but of the effect them being together would have on the other friends. And with the different dynamics at play here, I completely understand that. And as frustrating as it is, it builds the tension deliciously and the UST is sensational! And then everything changes when they unexpectedly get a brief glimpse of what could be.

“It’s okay to want me, you know,” Linden says thickly.
My stomach quivers. I manage to shake my head and now his fingers are trailing behind my neck, running into the base of my hair and another shiver escapes down my back.
“Since when is it ever okay to want your best friend?” I say softly, nearly choking on the words. Because that’s what he is, that’s what he’s always been.
He smiled gently, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “Isn’t that the best person to want? The person that knows you inside and out. The person who has seen you at your ugliest and most beautiful and still wants to be with you. The person who believes in you and has your back, no matter what.”

I love that they have the guts to talk about it, and I love that they find the strength to dive in and experience it while still staying true to themselves and their friendship.

“All of this, you and me, is brand new, you’re right. Let’s just take this one small step at a time.”
“These small steps include sex, right?”

Hell yes, it includes sex! And OMG, it’s hot! Karina writes a great love scene, and Linden and Steph get fantastically hot and steamy while still maintaining the banter and easiness that has always been a big part of their relationship. And something very special starts to develop as they open up to the possibility of everything that is between them.

“I don’t want to lose you.”
He reaches for my hand and pulls me to him. “You are not going to lose me,” he says, peering down at me. “I promise.”
I want to believe him so badly. I need to believe him. “What if you lose me?”
He smiles at me, his grip hard. “Then I’ll just hold on tighter.”

OMG, Linden! As much as I love Steph, it’s Linden that made this book for me. He is a gorgeous, roguish playboy with a Scottish brogue who is confident yet vulnerable. His inner monologue is fantastically sarcastic and smutty, but he has a huge heart. I fell in mad love with him.

Warning - totally spoilery --->

I loved watching the two of them experience everything that came with their relationship – from the mad lust to the sweet ‘coupley’ moments, to the pure wonder and happiness that comes as they start to understand the depths of their feelings for each other. It’s all absolutely fantastic! But those fears are still there, and this book is not without its angst or heartbreak.

My poor emotions went on a bit of a rollercoaster with this one. It was light and funny, and then I was frustrated, excited (yes, I actually squeed out loud), swoony, angry, heartbroken and back again. And although I did feel the need to get my smack stick out, I could empathise with them, and was way too in love with the characters to hold a grudge . And in the end, this book left me swoony and satisfied with a big smile on my face.

Life isn’t a linear journey. Sometimes it’s one step backwards, two steps forward and then a jump out to the side. It’s kind of like the “Time Warp”, when you think about it.
Life follows many directions and hopefully, eventually, your mind and body and life and love, all catch up with each other.

Karina Halle has taken a shift away from her usual style with this one (I’m going to call it ‘edgy fluff’), and it is deliciously entertaining and enjoyable. And if this is her brand of fluff, I’ll definitely be looking forward to more!

I loved it – 4 stars.

An Advanced Reader Copy was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
May 2, 2017
Linden and James are working at the same bar when Stephanie applies for a job. James sees her first so he makes his move, unfortunately...or fortunately, they don't last. Linden wants her but he doesn't want to mess with the "bro code". Instead, Linden and Stephanie become best friends and then, "The Pact" is made.


So, "The Pact"...Linden makes a "pinky-promise" with Stephanie that if they are both not seriously involved with someone else by the time they are thirty then they'll get married. And since they are only twenty-five, it doesn't seem serious.

The problem is they both want each other but they don't know how to approach it. Linden doesn't want to make James upset and Stephanie doesn't want to lose her best friend. This begins the journey of them suffering through the other one dating or having hook ups.

That wasn't my favorite part. I'm not a big fan of the MC's being involved with other people...at least not to have a lot of page time about it - or to have intimate details described. Unfortunately, we get both.

It's that hard time in people's lives when they feel like if they haven't met "the one" then they should make it work with who they're with. I'm surprised Linden felt this way and Stephanie didn't. It certainly helped getting both their POV's.


They still weren't doing anything about each other and only got thrown together through a dare to kiss...and what a kiss it was!

I liked both Linden and Stephanie but some of the things were a bit too dramatic. On the other hand, I think Linden especially needed to go through those experiences to go after what he really wants.

There were a lot of great secondary characters. I really enjoyed Penny and I would love a story about Bram, Linden's brother, now that he seems to be coming around.


Linden and Stephanie are pretty steamy together and Linden is quite the dirty talker even if he is a bit cheesy at times!

There's some big drama at the end that kicks some sense into Linden and then we get to the good stuff. The epilogue was really cute and I loved how things ended up.

Favorite quotes:

♥ "World’s pickiest woman with the world’s biggest manwhore?"

♥ "Look, I can be a macho man and all, but that poor, old cartoon man always does a number on me."

♥ "She hoards sex like an Italian fat kid hoards Nutella."

♥ “Speechless?” he asks after a beat. “I like that.”

♥ “Nine years. I’ve been waiting nine years for this. Nine years to finally have you the way I’ve always needed you.”

♥ “You’re a pig.”

“You’ve called me that before.”

“If the shoe fits.”

“Pigs don’t wear shoes.”

“They do on cartoons,” she points out.

"Thank you for showing me your soul."

♥ “I have been your best friend for nine years. I want to be your whole world for ninety more. You are everything I could ever want – a friend, a lover, family – wrapped up in one fantastically hot package.”

♦ BR w/Melissa!
Profile Image for S.M. West.
Author 33 books1,053 followers
December 31, 2014

Okay, despite this not being all that I had hoped it would be, I still love KH. As she says herself, this was a departure from her other books and was meant to be a fun, lighthearted read about dating with the added twist of the pact. I really liked the beginning, the connection between Steph and Linden and the whole idea of the pact. It had such promise!

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And yes, I was all gooey for Linden, the sexy Scot.
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Where it fell down for me was that most of the book was spent with the two of them apart with other people! And the immaturity of Steph and Linden, actually the three of them if you throw in third best-friend (and douchebag) James. Yes, I didn't like James one bit...

even when he came clean with his fucked up confession towards the end. It was ironic that it was him to finally man-up but still did not redeem him in my eyes.

I totally understood that there was a bit of a bizarre love triangle (okay not really) but most of the angst (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE angst but it's gotta be believable not lame) could have been avoided if someone just grew a PAIR!!!

I did a lot of this…
and this...

and this...

Having said that, I must say that despite Linden’s cowardice, I did like him A LOT.

I also LOVED the very little that we got of him and Steph actually together. That boy can talk dirty to me any day!!

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And I must admit, despite my continuous eye rolling, I was smiling at the end.
Profile Image for Rachel Reads Ravenously.
1,802 reviews2,159 followers
July 29, 2016
Well, I didn't hate it and I didn't love it. I liked it. Since everyone else already wrote brilliant reviews arguing both feelings, I'm going to leave these photos I made here and call it a day. I will note as always I loved Karina's writing style and this book flowed beautifully.

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Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,414 reviews7,414 followers
January 8, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

2.5 Stars

Did you know Voodoo Doughnut makes beer?

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See that? They do. Did you know that it tastes like chocolate covered raspberry pretzels and it goes down so smooth you don't even know you're a little intoxicated until it's too late. Well, you do now. And finally, did you know that when you're drunk a little intoxicated and spent your New Year's Eve day reading a porno, that when you come home after celebrating you think it's probably a STELLAR idea to write a book review? Some people sing drunken karaoke, some blog - to each his own. Lucky for me I some drunken idiot kicked the WiFi unplugged so this review was unable to get posted in the wee hours of the morn. However, I only fixed the glaring typos and code issues, so my apologies for what comes next . . .


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I read about 2 dirty books a year, so I'm obviously no aficionado when it comes to reviewing books about the sexy times. Generally I pick the latest "mommy porn" of choice that everyone else is reading. That being said, you should obviously take the following review with a grain of salt.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first . . . It seems every "contemporary romance" or whatever the fuck they're calling it these days suffers from the same issues (well, this one didn't have a "red room of pain," so at least it had that going for it) - overused plotlines and too many pages.

This story was soooooooo familiar. Boy and girl are BFFs - it goes without saying that they are both wicked hot. They've both been secretly horny for each other for years, but are pussies so neither has ever bothered telling the other. Instead they've spent the years ogling each others fine bodies and beating their individual meats with fantasies of "what could be." Boy and girl decide to make a pact with regards to their relationship if they should both find themselves still single once they are 30 . . .

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Sadly, no - these two go for the old "marriage pact." However, eventually boy and girl decide to take the plunge without getting hitched, things work, then some super obvi plot-twist happens and things don't work anymore, and finally they both realize they've been a couple of assholes and everything wraps up with a HEA.

^^^^All of the above would be A-Okay (at the end of the day this is a porno after all, so I'm not expecting a heavy plot). The problem lies with the abundance of pages and hashing and rehashing of the "should we or shouldn't we" issues. By the time these two finally got down to the shibibbity dibbitty even a prude like me was experiencing some sexual frustration . . .

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Dear dirty book authors - you should all be following the old saying of K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). There's no need for an extra 50-100 pages of "will they or won't they." We all know they will, so get on with it.

I can say that when they did finally get on with it, my glasses got a little fogged up. The first go 'round was hot . . . and not disgusting like so many others. Halle was able to express herself and cover the moment without using most of my gag-reflex trigger words. I mean, every once in awhile it's cool to talk about

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but when authors mix it with all the other icky "C" words and use them incessantly it makes me want to barf. Eventually they got into dirty talk and other stuff that tends to squick me out, but it was still quality naughty business.

Another bonus was even though this story was cliché, I still found myself "awwwwwwing" on occasion:

"A week ago we were friends. Now we are lovers. It feels perfect. Almost too good to be true. And because of that, I'm afraid it might be. I'm afraid it won't come easily to us. I'm afraid."

And some of it was just flat out hawt:

"I'd kiss you right now if I could, if the whole world wasn't watching. Right on the lips. So hot and sweet you'd think I was honey. I'd make you want to drown in it."

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Tons of people read Karina Halle and I was feeling like the lone holdout. I'll definitely give her another go. She writes well - especially dialogue. I'm a fan of dialogue driven stories and she's good at it. The price point was also on the money at only a couple of bucks.

First drunk review. NAILED IT!

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Profile Image for MELISSA *Mel Reader*.
1,335 reviews1,396 followers
January 3, 2015
4 "It's Always Been You" Stars!
(BR with Sharon)

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This is a story about 2 guys & a girl living in San Francisco that become best friends after meeting at the age of 21 when they were all working at the same bar. The girl is Stephanie Robson aka Steph/Baby Blue. She dates one of the guys briefly names James. The other guy Linden McGregor aka Cowboy then gets put in the friend zone.

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Through the years the three of them remain close, but Linden & Steph are always each others confidant & best friend. As they're nearing 25, Linden suggests to Steph that they make a pact to be each other's back up plan. If by the age of 30 neither are in a serious relationship, they marry each other. Steph assumes it's all a big joke, but is there more to it?

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As the years go by, and they grow closer to thirty, they continue to date others, while secretly longing for each other & never feeling like they can act on it. Their feelings of friendship have turned into more over the years. After nine years, they finally reveal how they feel, and turn from friends to lovers. Whew...I wanted to have a party! Thank you thank you! ;))

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Things are going great, and then around 80% I wanted to scream no, no, no at Linden. Really? Just NO!!! What are you thinking???

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But thank goodness the drama is short lived, and I was very pleased with the ending. I really enjoyed this one. It had my attention right away when I read Linden was a hot, Scottish, helicopter pilot! Yummmm! He was a fun, gorgeous guy who never knew love, and just wanted something real in his life. Steph is what his heart has been searching for all along. I liked they were best friends first, & it was another great book by Karina Halle! :D

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-Sometimes he makes me wonder why I even bother looking at anyone else, he's just that fucking handsome.

-Sometimes his smile rips the air from my lungs.

-I'm meant to hold this man's hand. I'm meant to kiss him.

-One of the things I love most about her is that she has no idea how fucking special she is.

-"You've always been more than a friend to me, Steph. Always."

-You're my everything.

Profile Image for ★ Larissa ~ book crusher ~.
239 reviews80 followers
January 10, 2015
1 star

Yeah, you read that right. 1 freaking star. I may be a bit of a picky bitch but it's actually very rare for me to rate a book this low. If you wanna know why, there are a lot of negative reviews for this one floating out there already, and I'll pretty much agree with everything they say so I'm not going out of my way here to pick this book apart. Having said that, I'm going to have to vent at least some because it's been a very long time since a book has pissed me off to this degree. I wish I could get those 5 hours of my life back. I mean, seriously? I put off Mortal Instruments for this crap?

I think this is one of those cases where the book cover is just so pretty and the blurb so well done, you can't help but be giddy with excitement at cracking open the damn thing. I don't know exactly what I expected but something along the lines of fireworks, and some well done angst, hot sex and yes a big deal about this so called "pact". I also expected a slow burning friends-to-lovers story.

So forget all those expectations. What did I get instead? A hero with balls the size of tiny marbles, a bunch of idiotic 30 year olds that behaved more like they were in freaking highschool and a romance that was so meh, I was wondering all the time what the big fuss about this Karina Halle chick is. Keep in mind this is my first book by her. Boy, it seems I picked the wrong book. Anyway, the fact that these two were banging other peeps for the first half of the book didn't bother me. I still had hope for the second half. And then things get so convoluted I couldn't help but wonder whether I was reading a badly written YA romance instead of a romance about grown ass people already in their damn 30s.

I HATED the plot, HATED the lack of chemistry, HATED the forced denial (I mean seriously, it was obvious they wanted each other, and they kept waltzing around the issue like damn pre-teens, and being all scaredy and denialy) At one point I wanted to bitch-slap Stephanie and actually kept groaning COME ON. It was so obvious that Linden DID want her and she was all like... "oh my" what if he doesn't? I think I nearly popped an eye at that point from rolling them so much.

And Linden... , and I HATED the very convenient plot device thrown at the end. There was also the very convenient truth or dare stuff in the beginning that made me wonder if I was reading the right genre. In all reeked of lazy writing. That thing in the end that brings people back together, I was wow, tons of lack of creativity.

Obviously, this absolutely did not work for me. There were a couple of hot sex scenes thrown in there, but even the dirty talk felt cheesy at times. Overall it was like watching a Friends rerun if the writing had been subpar quality and they had still been in junior high. The idea of the pact was so good and it completely fell flat. I wish someone did this premise justice because it's actually a pretty cool premise, just not at all well realized here. That's freaking all.
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