Melissa Brayden’s follow-up to Kiss the Girl is Just Three Words, the second in Brayden’s Soho Loft Romance series about four lesbian/bisexual friends who met in college and started an advertising business called Savvy.
This time out, the plot focuses on structure-craving accountant Samantha Ennis and easygoing graphic designer Hunter Blair. The rent is raised in the Soho building where Savvy is located and Samantha also lives, and Samantha’s roommate Brooklyn (the heroine of Kiss the Girl) leaves their apartment to move in with Jessica. Hunter’s sublet has expired and she’s procrastinated too long on finding another place to live, so she agrees to move in with Samantha. Hunter is a bit of a player with a reputation for having fun with the ladies, although she doesn’t go home with women nearly as often as everyone thinks she does. She’s estranged from her father but still communicates regularly with her mother, who wants her to come home for visits far more often than she’s willing to.
After Brooklyn moves out, Samantha suffers from the loss of their friendly intimacy; she’s also recovering from a recent breakup with a woman who has her questioning everything she thought she wanted in a partner. When Hunter moves in, she confesses to Samantha that she had a crush on the other woman back in college. With attraction on the table, it’s not long before Samantha and Hunter move their relationship from friends to friends with benefits, despite the differences between their approaches to life and the fact that a failed relationship between them might be disastrous for their shared business.
A health crisis in Hunter’s family puts everything in perspective after Hunter and Samantha find themselves struggling with their feelings and the need for secrecy. Will they risk everything to be together, or will they end up going back to their comfort zones?
I enjoyed Brayden’s callbacks to Kiss the Girl and her forecasting of Mallory’s romance in the next book. She does a good job of making the obstacles to relationships seem realistic rather than contrived, which is always such a pleasure to find in a romance novel. Samantha and Hunter’s ability to communicate, even about difficult topics, was especially on point. Also, Samantha identifies as bisexual, and Brayden incorporates it rather than paying only lip service. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the Soho Loft series.