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Book Review on It’s Always Been You by Tay Mo’nae

Happily ever after isn't always easily attained, in real life and in the fictitious world. Jerzey and O'Shae have been best friends since they were kids and have wanted nothing but the best for each other. But what if, the thing they both so desperately need, is staring them right in the face, they just have been too foolish to see it? "We wasted so much time trying to make it work with other people when in reality we should have been looking at each other." Their love story is one that is filled with an abundance of emotions, but the endgame is still the same, happily ever after.

Jerzey is a veterinarian that gives readers girl next door vibes. She's carefree and focusing on her lifelong goal, creating a family. "Even with the kind of childhood she had, Jerzey never let it harden her. She was a kind spirit, big hearted, slightly naive, and caring." Fresh out of a divorce, she decides the best way to get the family she's always longed for is to become a foster mom. Being a foster child herself, she thinks she's equipped to handle everything her foster kids, Kaydence and Kaiden, throw her. She quickly realizes that she was terribly wrong, and just as much as the kids need a father figure like O'Shae, she needs him as well. "You're never gonna win when it comes to me having your back Jerzey. I don't play about you, never have. The sooner you learn to accept that, the less fussing you'll have to do."

O'Shae was brash and closed off to the world, his best friend, Jerzey, and Granny Mae being his only soft spots. Everyone can see the connection between him and Jerzey, even his girlfriend Payton. With him trying to help Jerzey with her new little family, he causes discord in his relationship, making his already complicated relationship more complicated. "I can't help it; I always feel you prefer to be around her over me." Falling into a groove with Jerzey, Kaiden and Kaydence feels right to him, and it gives him plenty of things to think about. "It was wrong, I shouldn't even be thinking of Jerzey in that light. She was my best friend, had been that way for 15 years, yet lately I'd been seeing something different in her."

Typically, the friends to lovers trope isn't my thing. I loathe when the main characters are in relationships with other people, dragging them through the motions, only to end up with their best friend. I'm happy to say, that wasn't the case in this book. O'Shae was technically the only one in a relationship and Tay made Payton's character so terrible, I was happy when she finally got her walking papers. Tay Mo'nae has been skillfully sharpening her pen, unofficially making herself a romance maestro. This book embodied the five basic elements of a love story (a sympathetic heroine, a strong hero, emotional tension, a believable plot and a happily ever after), paired with some past trauma and a splash of drama. It was a heartwarming read that had several scenes that made me oooh and ahh. I felt she gave a traditional trope a unique spin, making me fall in love with it. This book did touch on some very sensitive subjects that may be triggering for some, but it does not take away from the storyline. When it releases on October 9th, I highly recommend romance readers to tap in.

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