ARC Review: When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill

From the Author’s Website:

What if after every bad breakup, there was someone to turn to who could “cleanse your palate”—someone who wouldn’t judge you, who was great in bed, but you were sure not to fall in love with? “Sorbet sex” could solve everything—as long as it never got too sweet. . . .

Joss and Matt have been friends since freshmen year—meeting one night after Joss is dumped by her high school boyfriend. A few drinks later, Joss nearly gives it up to an even drunker frat boy. Matt humors her with a proposition—that he become her “go-to” guy when she needs to heal a broken heart. In return, she’ll do the same for him. The #1 Rule: Never fall in love with each other. People scoff at the arrangement. But six years later, now out of college, Joss and Matt are still the best of friends . . . with benefits.

Through a string of boyfriends and girlfriends—some almost perfect, some downright wrong—Joss and Matt are always there for one another when the going gets tough. No strings. No attachments. Piece of cake. No problem. After all, since they wrote the rules, surely they can play by them. Or Can they?

This book is most assuredly the cutest and fluffiest thing in the realm of New Adult. It has kittens and puppies coming out of its derrière. The sad thing is that as I read the book, things kept popping up that made me see the flaws and weaknesses in the plot and character progression. While reading it, I had the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long while. I read it in one sitting, something that happens zero to never times. Towards the end of the book, I was slapped in the face by how angry I was by a certain something the heroine did towards the beginning of the book. As much as I want to write a rage review, I want to be completely fair to this book. Normally I would write a rage review, but I honestly think a fair review would be better for this book. I’m sorry to say this book was like an awkward and uncomfortable first kiss. 

Let’s just listen to the gif, shall we?

Translation: Awkward, cute, bubbly, and kind of a screw up.

Girl Pride:

Joss (full name: Joscelin) has a fear of heights, an adorable relationship with her cat, and a lingerie fetish. The lingerie in the book alone makes me want an inside look of the MC’s drawers. What? I’m a girl. I like girly things. I may swear like a sailor and scream “down with the patriarchy!”, but on my off days I will go paint my nails. I really love when the MC is girly and is proud of it. It makes me feel like the heroine is confident and embraces feminism at its core. The heroine who tries to be the complete opposite of a girl is just a role reversal and subsequently not a real person.

Joss has a language of her own, much like Lorelei Gilmore or Buffy. Don’t be scared, she doesn’t over-do the bubbly dialogue. It’s very agreeable, and doesn’t try to punch you in the face with the wittiness of it. Cahill’s dialogue is pure champagne fluff served with bubbly. It’s a good thing, folks.

It’s even an eyeshadow:

The book transitions between the present and seven years ago when they were freshmen. Joss befriends Matt at a keg party, but they don’t truly become friends until after they decide to be mutual sorbet sex parters. Sorbet Sex translated by yours truly: Sex in between the breakups. It cleanses the palate. The coincidence, girls and gents, doesn’t pass me. The fact that it was Matt’s idea was not in my favor. I would have appreciated it more if it had been her idea, since when it’s the guys proposition it kind of seems like he’s the experienced teacher. She’s no virgin, but I still felt that it effected my appreciation for their relationship progression.

Despite my misgivings about how these two friends started this ‘friends with benefits’ sexual relationship, I felt they were the cutest thing in the genre I had ever seen. I loved how they grew as friends. They became intimately involved in each others personal relationships, as any friend would be. In all honesty, I almost shipped this couple. The unfortunate thing is the book had too many faults for me to claim this without hesitating. I usually ship ‘hate to love’ relationships and ‘friends to lovers’ relationships. I cannot tell you enough how much I love this. This couple is, as Katy Perry would say, the one that got away.

The Frat Boy Scene (aka a feminist rant):

Prepare yourselves. I am about to get all feminist on your asses.

This is my main beef with this book. Sexual Assault, whether the MC goes through with it or not, is not an okay thing. It’s not something the author should take lightly. It’s not something the MC should ever joke about, either. To give you some background, Joss’ boyfriend had just broken up with her and she’s looking for someone to take her mind off him. So she starts fooling around with a frat boy. He’s so drunk that he passes out. But for some insane reason, she contemplates having sex with him even though he’s not able to consent. This goes both ways, guys. Male or female. Equality of the sexes. It applies to both male and female when it comes to consenting.

In my desperation, I actually checked the crotch of his pants. Soft. I dismounted my unconscious frat boy and stood back to survey the situation. To proceed or not to proceed?

Later on in the novel she jokes about it:

“Speaking of Greeks…did I ever tell you about the time I almost sexually assaulted a frat guy?” That got the laugh I was expecting, and I launched into the story of my pathetic attempt to seduce the useless Jeff. 

Now for the sake of experiment, let’s change the quote around by exchanging frat boy with sorority girl:

I dismounted my [sorority girl] and stood back to survey the situation. To proceed or not to proceed?

See the problem? Male or female, it is never okay to consider having sex with someone who is not able to consent. If she had gone through with it, it would have been considered rape. We focus so much on female rape victims all the time, that we forget that men are raped and sexually assaulted as well. I cannot get over this. Joke or not, it’s not something I can brush off.

Friends to lovers….not so much:

I loved Matt and Joss’ relationship as friends, but I couldn’t find a transition between friends and lovers. It just came right smack out of the blue. She suddenly just told the reader she had feelings for him beyond something sexual. They had been friends for a long time and logically it makes sense that they would love each other. But, that’s not what I’m referring to. What I feel was done poorly was the transition from loving each other as friends to slowly letting the reader know when the character fell in love. The author didn’t clue in the reader into the fact that Joss was starting to have more romantic feelings towards Matt. It just shot out of the text without any indication in the previous pages.

Oh Joss, Oh Matt: 

I’ve had my own version of the relationship crazies, but Joss has pulled that to a whole new level. I just can’t believe a smart heroine wouldn’t be more intelligent when it involves dating. I have no problem with one night stands, but at least be safe about who you’re sleeping with. You don’t know if that guy has some fucked up disease, without asking. If you don’t know him, how do you know if he isn’t some sort of fucking serial killer who has a “girls named Joss” fetish? I’m being insane. What else would you expect? But, seriously girls. Please be safe. Think about what kind of relationship you’re getting into before you act. Ask questions. Be logical. Be smart about date rape and nice strangers that hand you drinks.

Plot or Character?

There didn’t seem to be any progression in the plot beyond the sorbet sex. Don’t misinterpret me, this book is not all about the sex. It’s far from that. Once Matt and Joss have defined their sorbet relationship the plot doesn’t seem to have an actual purpose. The sorbet sex happens whenever they break up with their special someone and it starts to become a pattern. Eventually, it’s nothing but predictable. You expect certain things. In fact, you know they will happen. The excitement drops dramatically after fifty percent. That is the point where you, as the reader, understand that this plot is more character than it is plot. It is not balanced between character and plot. Instead, it is mostly one and very little of the other. 

If it hadn’t been for the MC considering sexual assault, this book may have been a three star. I’m still raging about it. It involved a lot of wine and Doritos. Those two things always go together.

All the same, this was one of the fluffiest and cutest New Adult books I’ve ever read. I just wish there weren’t so many problems with this novel.

Thank you to Ballantine and Edelweiss for providing this title in exchange for an honest review. 


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