Review: Life’s Too Short (The Friend Zone, #3) by Abby Jimenez

Title: Life’s Too Short
Series: The Friend Zone, #3
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: ☕☕☕☕ ☕ (4.5/5)
Content Warnings: highlight to view {death of a loved one (recalled), substance abuse, abandonment (recalled), anticipation of death, chronic illness, grief (over chronic illness)}

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

BLURB

Vanessa lives life on her own terms — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment.
But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element.
The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all… (via Goodreads)

THOUGHTS

“Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning. Like I’m in a tornado and I can’t ever stop moving and the only time I feel still is when I’m with you.”

Can Abby Jimenez ever write a bad book? Well, based on her track record, apparently not yet. Reading Life’s Too Short felt like coming home. I never realized the extent of how comforting Abby Jimenez’s writing is until I stepped into her world and got swept up again in one of her stories.

Life’s Too Short follows Vanessa Price, is a famous YouTuber who lives her days as if it’s her last, and Adrian Copeland, a hotshot workaholic lawyer bent on productivity as a means to escape his gaping hole of a personal life. Vanessa, suddenly thrust into child fostering, met Adrian due to a couple of hilarious circumstances and the two form a friendship that turned into so much more. Let me just tell you that this book is friends-to-lovers in the most decadent of ways. It was slow and romantic. The connection between Vanessa and Adrian felt organic and the eventual romance was believable.

He looked amused. “Just do it? Just pack up and go.”

“Or stay. But make time for other things that aren’t work. Find balance. Find joy. You are the kind of man who can’t see the shapes in the clouds. And it’s not because you lack imagination. It’s because you’re too busy to look up.”

I saw so much of myself in Adrian that it was sometimes hard to swallow. When he said “The more shit I was dealing with, the more productive I became.“, I absolutely felt that. There’s comfort in seeing yourself in characters you read about but it was also a slap to the face to be confronted with your flaws and habits that need changing. This book followed Adrian opening up to love and life, giving space to worthwhile things that eventually made him truly happy, coming to terms with his past trauma, and overcoming his need for control. It was such a journey reading about it. And coupled with Vanessa (and baby Grace) in his life, it was hard to list them as one of the most memorable characters I’ve read to date.

“I never save anything,” I said, grabbing the bottle opener on the counter. “I enjoy things as soon as possible. I burn the expensive candle, I use the fancy rose-shaped soap, and I drink the wine, even if the only thing I’m celebrating is the fact that it’s Tuesday.”

Vanessa on the other hand was so vibrant and full of life that it was really hard to imagine that she was dealing with some pretty heavy stuff in her life. There is an almost 50% chance that Vanessa is getting the same chronic illness that runs in her family, ALS in particular. And after the death of a loved one, she decided to live her life on her own terms – traveling the world, opening a YouTube account, and raising awareness on the rare genetic disease. Reading this book opened my eyes to the extent of how difficult trying to pin down an ALS diagnosis because, to date, there is still no specific test to diagnose it. “They diagnosed it by excluding other diseases that mimic it and monitoring the progression of your deterioration.” And even if it was diagnosed, there is no cure yet, so everything was just slowing down the inevitable. Vanessa’s voice was an inspiring one and I was so glad to read about a character that took matters into her own hand, take charge of her life, and refuses to be knocked down. The brief moments where she “looked directly at the sun” (as this book puts it) were one of the most heartbreaking things to read about in this book. She was so incredibly human that it was hard to think of her as a fictional character. Based on the Author’s Notes, her character was inspired by Claire Wineland, an American activist and an advocate for people affected by chronic illness. Like Vanessa, she was also a social media personality. And though I was not very familiar with her work, a quick search of her creds and I could definitely see the inspiration.

Life’s too short, Adrian. It is too fucking short. Eat the cake, take the vacation, dance in the rain. And don’t do anything that’s going to break your heart. I’m just sorry that in this case, that thing was me.”

I read this book in personal record time. I sacrificed sleep for this just because I don’t want to step out and live outside of its bubble. This was the kind of book that took me on a roller coaster of emotions. I was happy in most of it – touched by how much this meant to me. This book left me in a better state after I finished it. Whenever I escape into romance novels lately, I always thought of that Emily Henry quote from Beach Read where love could whisk you off into someplace where it is just rainbows and butterflies. But Abby Jimenez’s books are consistently grounded in reality in a way that dealing with hard truths and weathering setbacks are as much a part of life as the bliss and euphoria that romance brings. This, I think, was one of the cornerstones of her writing. And the way she consistently treats these subjects with care and seamlessly blends the highs and lows is what sets her writing apart from her peers. The way this was written was also so fun: the chapter titles are in the form of clickbait YouTube titles we constantly see nowadays, which was fitting for the story because of Vanessa’s job. This story was so incredibly relevant today that it’s so easy to get lost in its pages.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the rest of the books in the series but I felt like this was the book that I enjoyed the most out of the three (I devoured it in one loooong sitting). Of course, The Friend Zone still holds a special place in my heart. But in terms of enjoyability and just general lessons learned and feelings toward this book at the very end, Life’s Too Short gave the most pay-off. There were just some story points that I’m kind of on the fence (see the spoiler-y section below, first bullet point) but overall, this book was one of the most memorable romances I’ve read in recent memory. Give it to Abby Jimenez to deliver every time. I was anticipating this like crazy and the wait was worth it. This was so much more than a love story. There were too many lessons to be learned and things to be picked up from this story. It taught and reinforced to me that you should do everything you can to live your life – start discerning which are noise and which are worthwhile in the grander scheme of things. That it’s not enough to just live to survive, that you need something to look forward to and to find what truly makes you happy in life. I would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a romance book with a meaty story and substance. If you haven’t read any of the books in the Friend Zone series, you’re seriously missing out. Life’s Too Short in particular is a gem of a story and one that will stay with me for a long time. 🤍

Note: The books in the Friend Zone series are standalone stories with interconnecting characters. It is recommended to read them chronologically – Book 1 and 2 and particular. Can you read Book 3 on its own? Yes, I think so. The story is pretty detached from the first two books, but you’ll appreciate the cameos more if you’ve known the characters prior. 😊

Here are the links of my book reviews of the rest of the series:

Additional Review Notes (contains spoilers, highlight to view):

  • {I was seriously prepared to call this the new A Walk to Remember because of the seemingly inevitable tragic end to Vanessa and Adrian’s love story (I mean who could escape something like that?). (There were some parallels that kept on replaying on my head like when Vanessa realized that she wanted to live because she finally met someone that amazing – it kinda reminds me of when Jamie said something in that line to Landon because she doesn’t want a reason to be angry with God — I mean) Only to know that the early onset that Vanessa was so afraid of was not ALS. I was so conflicted about my feeling about it because, of course, I wanted them to be happy but since I was preparing myself about this for the whole book, it felt like it would’ve been more satisfying if she indeed had ALS at that point. But I’m still so happy about how it ended. Ah, my dear heart. I’m just glad they will have each other when that time comes.}
  • {Adrian giving the ultimatum to Vanessa was such a shitty move because who is he to dictate that kind of thing about her life? I was glad he acknowledged that because if he didn’t, I felt like my rating for this book would go down a point. I also appreciated that Adrian mentioned this in the end: “I took care of my mental well-being with the same commitment that I took care of my family—because I couldn’t do one unless I did the other.” – because not many couples realize that. I loved how he was basically forced to deal with his own issues at the end because he was so afraid of what he was gonna lose if he doesn’t. I mean… he quit his job, adopted Grace, and freakin’ flew in a plane to jet set and find Vanessa. Who wouldn’t’ be touched? 😭}
  • {How had this happened? How did something so big slip through the cracks?” I was so uneasy throughout Adrian’s POV because it felt like he’s missing something very vital and, yes, he did. It was just weird how he didn’t do enough due diligence on Vanessa and ALS considering his trust issues AND that he is a lawyer that is good at his job. If he did though, I wonder if we would get the love story as it is. Just a small note and just a thought.}
  • {The connection of Life’s Too Short was kind of farfetched from the first two books that I can’t really remember Adrian appearing in Book 2. But it was so great to be getting the cameos. Kirsten and Sloan are still as loveable as ever. I honestly saw some parts of Kirsten and Vanessa while I was reading this book so it’s satisfying to read about them meeting. But what’s up with Kristen and Josh having four kids? It was too good to be true considering her high probability of infertility problems but I’m still happy knowing it nonetheless. They’re living their best lives.}

RATING

QUOTABLE QUOTES

“Life is no excuse,” she said. “You should always have an adventure lined up. Having something to look forward to is tantamount to happiness.”

I tipped my wineglass at him. “You suffer from One Day Syndrome.” He wrinkled his brows. “What?” “One Day Syndrome. You live your life like there’ll always be one day to do all the things you put off. One day you’ll take the trip. One day you’ll have the family. One day you’ll try the thing. You’re all work and not enough play. Money can’t make you happy unless you know what you want, Adrian. So what do you want?”

“Yeah. You don’t notice it? How she calms down faster when you pick her up? She already associates you with feeling safe because you saved her that night. She’s imprinting, right now. Little synapses are connecting and telling her that you’re good. She might be drawn to bearded men with kind green eyes and marry one one day, just because she knew you once. And she’ll never even know why.”

I stopped reading when Vanessa said this – like adrian. because I didn’t realize this and the implication that this have. it was just so sweet. 🤍

I felt like I’d been half-dead and I didn’t even know it, walking through my life in a sleepy fog until she’d woken me up.

“If you spend your life dwelling on the worst possible thing, when it finally happens, you’ve lived it twice. I don’t want to live the worst things twice. I try really hard not to think about the bad stuff. But every once in a while I’m human and I look up.” I studied him quietly. “Yesterday was just one of those days that I looked at the sun.”

“It’s just an illusion, Adrian. The control is an illusion. No one can promise you forever. People die unexpectedly every day. They have car accidents and heart attacks and strokes and if all you do is live your life fixated on how it ends, you’re just living the end twice. We still have time and all these things that you think will save me won’t. Stop chasing it and just be happy. Be happy with me while you can.”

“I’m so lucky I know you,” I said quietly. He paused for a moment. “I feel the same way. Like my life was a stuffy room, and you’re the breeze that came in when the window opened.

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About the Author

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network winner and USA Today best selling author with her hit debut novel The Friend Zone. She founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international cult following. Abby’s wry literary wit was spotlighted as the admin behind the hilarious viral comments on the now famous Nadia Cakes Vageode ® cake.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house.

Author Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Find me elsewhere: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | YouTube

Care to buy me a Kofi? CLICK HERE.

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Auditor by profession and a 'round-the-clock geek 🤓 from the 🇵🇭. I'm a coffee-holic INTJ with an unhealthy obsession with books and stationery. I word-vomit over at Twitter and posts book pics at Instagram: @pagesandcc . I also blog at https://pagesandcoffeecups.com/ .

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