Is it ever too late to leave the friend-zone?
Hi, my name is Bree Camden, and I’m hopelessly in love with my best friend and star quarterback Nathan Donelson (so is half of America, judging by the tabloids and how much the guy dates). The first step is admitting, right? Except, I can never admit it to him because he clearly doesn’t see me that way, and the last thing I want is for things to get weird between us.
Nothing but good old-fashioned, no-touching-the-sexiest-man-alive, platonic friendship for us! Everything is exactly how I like it! Yes. Good. (I’m not crying, I’m just peeling an onion.)
Our friendship is going swimmingly until I accidentally spill my beans to a reporter over too much tequila, and now the world seems to think me and Nathan belong together. Oh, and did I mention we have to date publicly for three weeks until after the Super Bowl because we signed a contract with…oops, forgot I can’t tell anyone about that!
Bottom line is, now my best friend is smudging all the lines and acting very un-platonic, and I’m just trying to keep my body from bursting into flames every time he touches me.
How am I going to make it through three weeks of fake dating Nathan without anything changing between us? Especially when it almost-sort-a-kinda seems like he’s fighting for a completely different outcome?
If any of you know me, just one fact about me, it’s that I absolutely adore the best friends to lovers trope. It’s such a niche romance trope that I’ve hardly come across it. But I LOVE all the angst that comes with such a hard transition from platonic relationship to something different. More often than not, this is accompanied by the excruciating angst that comes with unrequited feelings. Does this make me a masochist that I particularly enjoy such angst? Yes? Maybe?
The Cheat Sheet does this trope very well. It’s pretty much 300+ pages of unrequited feelings from Bree. And from Nathan. Did I mention this book is all about lack of communication between the love interests?
Bree was an amazing protagonist to follow. She’s confident in her standing in Nathan’s life even when the women he dated got jealous of her closeness to him, regardless that nothing romantic ever occurred between them. She’s kind and super empathetic when it came to teaching ballet to youth who may not be able to afford such lessons normally. She didn’t let life take away her ambitions when a tragic accident made her change her life’s trajectory. She was never insecure when it came to Nathan’s feelings for her, or what she thought they were. Hey, if I had a bestie who loved everybody but me, I may not handle such constant rejection as well as Bree did.
Nathan, meanwhile, wasn’t too bad of a catch himself. I normally don’t love sports stories. I’m not very much into any particular sport myself so this world just doesn’t fascinate me. Regardless that Nathan was a well-known football player and that this book contains perhaps 65% football-related storylines, I felt this element helped frame more of Nathan’s character which in turn helped me understand him more. He was adorable with the way he freaked out over Bree’s lack of romantic interest in him. If there ever was a need for the comedy in the romantic-comedy, it can definitely be found among some big football players trying to map out a PG-13 plan to get the girl to fall for her best friend.
The story flowed well, although I was taken aback by the dual POVs. Don’t let the synopsis fool you into thinking it’s only Bree’s feelings to concern yourselves with. Also deceiving is how far along the book gets before the fake dating trope enters the picture. It’s not right at the beginning but I felt this made more sense because it allowed us to understand Bree and Nathan’s history and dynamic before throwing them into the deep end of unknown relationship territory.
The one half-star docked off comes from the sheer length. The book isn’t long, but nearer to the end, I do feel the miscommunication about their reciprocated(!!) feelings was getting a little tiring. Just tell each other you like one another, I wanted to shout at them both. I mean, this may be the angst getting to me at this point. Maybe this is a good sign if that’s what the author intended? All I can say is, I was totally invested in seeing them figure things out. The end may be a little rushed for some, but I think it worked for their particular story.
Do I think this story will be for everyone? I guess that depends on how much you like this kind of romantic angst with its tensions but lots of communication issues. This is weirdly my favorite trope so if you’re like me (a niche weirdo), then you’re in luck because Bree and Nathan have got a story to tell.
The Cheat Sheet is a charming story about unrequited love between best friends – or rather, miscommunicated and very much requited love between our leads. It’s a cute and fairly digestible contemporary that’s perfect for a lazy afternoon to put you in the feels as we root for the leads to finally get their communication fixed. I certainly read it in one sitting like this! The best friends to lovers trope may not be as common or popular but this TikTok sensation blew up for a reason and I can confidently say it was well earned.