When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Target audience: If you like contemporary romance…
Keywords: post-college, college friends, friends with benefits
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Joss meets Matt during her first year at college, and after a particularly bad breakup, the two decide to use each other as “sorbet sex” — a way to cleanse their sex palette after a bitter end. They always come away from their nights together as friends, and continue to date other people and fall back on one another when those pairings don’t work out. Their agreement stays and their friendship stays on track — or at least until Joss realizes she might look forward to the sorbet sex more than her actual relationships.
When Joss Met Matt is one of those rare books lately where a female character can like sex (a lot) and not have it be the only thing on her mind. Yet somewhere, amidst the jumps between past (college) and present (grown up life), what could have been a great story was ironed out such that I felt like I was just going through the motions to see how it would all end. Sure, it was sweet and sexy and I thought it was fantastic that Matt and Joss were able to keep up such a strong friendship despite the complications of freebie sex. But here are a few thoughts that popped up in my head as reading:
What is NA, really? I know what NA is (Dahlia Adler wrote us a great post with awesome recs in December) but I was taken by surprise when this book started post-college graduation and into the working years. This book easily could have been labeled as a straight contemporary romance, right? The designation here is confusing me, even if most of the story is told in flashback during those college years… it’s being told in retrospect and that isn’t the same for me.
Did the structure work? The premise of the book reminded me of a less dark version of One Day by David Nichols but maybe would have worked more for me if the present day just book-ended the book. Knowing up front how Joss felt about Matt made her other relationships feel like a long laundry list you were predisposed to not care about. Frankly, it made me a bit impatient. (Maybe an epilogue would have worked better?)
Who were Joss’ friends? Joss was all about female empowerment (most of the time anyway; we all have our low moments) but it was a little hard for me to keep her friends straight. More development here would have been a slam dunk for me. Matt was one of her best friends but isn’t half the fun of college getting to know your roommates?
Would this make a great movie? The classic will-they-won’t-they premise had me feeling the spirit of Dawson and Joey or Harry and Sally. This is definitely a movie I would want to see with a bit more development and fewer forced drama moments. I liked that Joss was a strong woman but some of her decisions (especially towards the end) added unnecessary angst and served more as another way to keep the characters at odds. Mix in a Joss phobia, and whew. Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place for drama but I’m not sure if this was the point to turn it up a notch.
Final verdict: An entertaining read but not the kind I was hoping for. The strongest parts of When Joss Met Matt was the intimacy they built throughout the years and how they could just be themselves with one another.