3 Stars, Cate Ashwood, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood

Title: Thirty Things

Author: Cate Ashwood

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: This book just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: All their lives, Finn and Nate have been inseparable, sharing everything, and when a childhood accident left Finn broken, Nate stood by his side as all his other friends left. After all their years together, there’s one secret Finn still hasn’t revealed: he has been in love with Nate since they were eight years old. Hiding his feelings for twenty-one years—terrified of what might happen if Nate ever found out—has been difficult, but losing his best friend would be worse than living with a bad case of unrequited love. Unfortunately for Finn, Nate doesn’t make it easy.

Nate believes there are some things that just have to be done before your thirtieth birthday. As a gift to Finn, he plans an adventure to check off a list of thirty things to experience before hitting that milestone. Starting in Crawfordsville, Indiana, they tour the country, trying new things and meeting interesting new people. Nate’s having the time of his life, but he can tell Finn is holding something back. As the days count down, navigating the back roads suddenly seems easier than figuring out where their relationship is heading.

One thing’s for certain. There will be no turning back.


Review: Cate Ashwood is one of my go-to authors when I want a feel good read with just the right amount of angst. When I saw this book on the list for review, I was excited and couldn’t wait to read it. I mean, really, who doesn’t love a great friend-to-lovers story that includes a super-cool road trip?

The book begins by laying out Finn and Nate’s relationship. Basically, these two have been best friends since they were eight. Since then, Finn has had a severe case of unrequited love for Nate. Finn has kept a lid on his feelings the entire time they have been besties, but it’s getting harder for him as time goes on.

When Finn decides to put some space between himself and Nate, right before his thirtieth birthday, he is shocked when it seems Nate is doing the same thing. The last thing Finn expects is for Nate to be putting space between them also. It turns out there isn’t any terrible reason for this space, just Nate planning a great surprise for Finn’s big three-oh. The two friends are going on a road trip! The best part of this road trip is the fact there are thirty envelopes for Finn to open, one for each day of the trip, basically. Personally, I thought this was an ingenious idea for a birthday trip. Finn and Nate got to do so many fun things they may not have done otherwise. Color me a bit jealous on that one.

The biggest shock to Finn comes early on in the trip…Nate kisses him! The kiss, of course, leads to more, and soon they are in a full on relationship. Up to this point I was completely loving this book. Unfortunately, what followed didn’t really work for me. Now, the writing was wonderful, but I just didn’t feel like the characters were consistent with their personalities from the beginning.

Nate is a details guy, made clear by the to-the-smallest-detail planning he did for the trip, but he and Finn don’t talk about what’s going on between them at all, until Finn flips his lid and they get in an argument. Also, after twenty-some years of friendship, Nate is just now telling Finn he is either gay or bi? Seemed strange to me. Add in the fact that Nate brought home women to have sex in the room right next door to the man he professes to have loved for years? It just didn’t jibe for me.

The premise of Thirty Things was great, the writing was definitely good, but unfortunately I couldn’t get past some of the characters’ behaviors to really enjoy the story. There were some great parts to this novel, and even a little forgiveness for a nemesis from Finn’s youth. I am still a huge fan of Ms. Ashwood’s work, and I will definitely be reading any books she writes in the future, but this book just didn’t do it for me.


You can buy Thirty Things here:

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