Friendly Fire is book 4 in the Never Just Friends series. This is Rafe and Cam’s story.
Rafe became a character of interest in book 1, Just Friends, when he made the most spectacular outburst following Tanner and Roo's disclosure of their relationship to their friendship group. It was undoubtedly the result of confusion and possibly denial and frustration, and I was interested in seeing how it would play out.
Of course, Saxon James is evil, so we had to wait for the final book to see how things would play out for Rafe. Apart from being a beautiful romance between Cam and Rafe, Friendly Fire explores Rafe’s sexuality, his coming to grips with it, and how it translates into his relationship with Cam.
Saxon once again outdid herself, creating characters so genuinely gorgeous, right down to their souls, that they quickly won my heart. Poor Rafe has spent so long simply not even considering that he's on the wrong path, or at least that there may be one that will actually make him happy. He's in a comfortable rut, and it takes Roo and Tanner’s declaration and seeing the depth of their relationship to give him the slap he needs to start examining his own feelings, wants, and needs.
[to Tanner] "I've never told anyone this before, so I need you to promise you won't repeat it."
"I can't. I tell Roo everything."
I make absolutely no claim to understand asexuality beyond the broad strokes, but I do understand that, like all sexual identities, it varies dramatically from person to person. Rafe's exploration is just one presentation. Even that changes throughout the book as Rafe is only just starting to explore his needs and wants, accepting one aspect and disregarding the next. It's all about Rafe's continuing growth as an individual and as both he and Cam adapt and grow for each other.
I loved Saxon's portrayal of Rafe's uncertainties and his experimenting. For both Rafe and Cam, there is a lot of trial and error in this book. The ending is really only the beginning of them working out together how their relationship will progress. What is clear, though, is that both of them are absolutely dedicated to each other.
"You're my thousand volts, Cam"
For me, Cam stole the show. His single-minded desire and love for Rafe, no matter how he could have him, made an impact. He is the ultimate romantic. He is so head over heels for Rafe, you can feel his love emanating off the page. Apart from his romantic soul, there is his wicked, some could call childish, but I call funny, sense of humour! I don’t think I’ll be able to look at gnomes or forks the same way again!
Friendly Fire is a beautiful ending to what has been a fantastic series. It could be read as a standalone, but I wouldn't recommend it. There has been too much character development throughout the previous three books; it would be a disservice to the series to start here. I'd also highly recommend reading the novella Friends with Benefits as it completes the story for one of the characters introduced in this book.
Saxon James may be a 'relatively new author, but she has firmly cemented her place in the MM author pantheon. Friendly Fire is well written with engaging dialogue, witty humour, and swoon-worthy romance, all things I've come to expect from this author. It grabbed me from the first page, and after many chuckles, a couple of teary moments, and many romantic sighs, it ultimately left me with a grin on my face.