My Favorite Half-Night Stand
by Christina Lauren
Millie Morris likes to look at her life as a cup half-full. Preferably, half-full of the best coffee around.
Nearly everything she needs is comfortably within her reach, and for those few things that are a little too far up … well, Millie has a squad that can fetch anything, even from the highest shelf. And they’d do the fetching without one grumble.
Well … maybe one. But she could ply them with beer and board games to make up for it.
Millie knows she’s lucky. She has not one, not two – but four best friends. And what does it matter that they’re all men? It’s 2019, for goodness sake.
She earned their friendship when her romantic relationship with their mutual friend (and resident douchebag) crumbled to the ground. They were there for her, giving her a soft place to land and not allowing her to wallow in her misguided misery for one second. They showed her that the princess can save herself, and they’ve never minded playing sidekick to her super-hero-status since.
To Millie, they aren’t just guys who have been given an honorary title due to logistics and location, or even out of obligation. They are men who are actually the bestest buds any gal could have. Guys who are her ultimate homeboys. Her main dudes. All of which have strong, dependable shoulders she can lean heavily on at any time, and for any reason. And because they are all strictly platonic relationships, Millie has been able to fully relax into their friendship over the last couple of years – without ever having to worry about falling into a period cycle with any of them, or bonding over which Gilmore Girls episode is the most epic.
The best thing they have in common? They are all single. Unequivocally unattached. Free as proverbial birds.
And more the happy for it … because, who needs those types of complications?
Ed, the resident comic relief. If Seth Rogan and Amy Poehler had a lovechild, it would be Ed. His fridge may be full of Mountain Dew and his dinner of choice might be cheese in a spray can, but his heart is as warm as his bear hugs are encompassing. When Millie can drag him away from kicking some teenager’s ass in Call of Duty and distract him from settling in with a 12-pack of beer, he’s the best one in the group to find the silver lining with.
Chris, the strong, silent type. When Mille needs a straightforward opinion laced with brutal honesty, he’s the one she turns to. He’s an accomplished chemist and his brain works in absolutes, by way of logical hypothesis and proven experiments. Chris is literal and loyal to the very core, and with a world full of deep blacks and bright whites, he does his best to keep the crew in line and out of the gray.
Alex, the veritable Don Juan. Millie is thankful that he’s never turned his sultry, dark eyes her way with any sort of passion play. His disinterest might very well be because he’s too busy pulling willing teacher-assistants into the dark room for private sessions that have nothing to do with photography, or lighting up the dance floor for some suggestive salsa dancing with the girls he meets off of Tinder. There simply isn’t enough time for all the women he wants to please in his bedroom. But his womanizing ways don’t make him a bad friend to have, on the contrary – it makes him valuable to Millie when it comes to assessing her adventures (or lack there of) with the opposite sex.
Reid, the cross between boy-next-door and gallant knight in shining armor. Reid is the one who pops in for late night Netflix binge sessions (minus the chill), with Millie’s favorite pizza in tow. He’s the one who greets her before she heads in to teach her first class, with a steaming cup of artisanal coffee. He’s the one who really knows her … the one who is privy to her deepest, darkest secrets … or rather, the ones she’s decided to share. He’s her very best friend, and she’d never let anything threaten their relationship.
There’s one night when things go a little too far. Millie has one beer too many, and the rose-colored glasses she’s looking through show her everything that’s always been right in front of her. Reid looks too good in those well-fitting jeans and snug t-shirt, and she can’t seem to help herself from reaching out to touch. He’s like a warm slice of gooey chocolate cake, and she’s a woman starved. Before Millie can talk herself out of it and back to reality, she pounces.
And to her delayed-by-alcohol-surprise and exhalation, Reid lets her.
Millie truly couldn’t function without her gang there to keep her sane. In a world where female professionals have a hard time getting themselves taken seriously, Millie knows she has hit the mother-load with her all-male support system. And it’s not just the impenetrable fortress they’ve built around their friendship that makes her feel safe – it’s the little things too. The guys are workaholics just like she is, so they get it. They understand her late nights, her muddled mornings, the rabbit holes of obsession that she invariably falls into, and her need to blow off steam at least once a week. And even doubly lucky for Millie, they all happen to work at the same university, resulting in the crew always lingering in close proximity to both her and the local coffee shop.
But for one night, Reid had belonged to her … and now, Millie can’t get him out of her mind. So what does that mean for the group? Does it even mean anything?
With a work function looming on the horizon, the five-som declare that each will arrive dressed to the nines and with … dates. Unable to cash in on the shallow pool at the university, what with all those underage co-eds and all, they agree to turn to a dating app for help. While some are rather reluctant to bare all for their profile, Millie finds the process more than a little cathartic. When she’s matched up with Reid, Millie wonders if she’s on to something … it’s so easy to talk to him through the app … but not so cool that he doesn’t realize that it’s her he’s talking to.
Millie finds herself in the most precarious of places. Does she blow the foundation of her cemented friendships with the guys and admit to her feelings about Reid, or does she say nothing and leave it all to chance?
The good, the bad, and the ugly:
Much like Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Half-Night showcases the kooky female main character Christina Lauren tends to favor as of late. But while Hazel is only annoying some of the time and most of it can be chalked up to her child-like sentimentality, I found Millie to be annoying … most of the time – and for no good reason at all. She was one of those cliche chicks who hangs around dudes too long and begins to resemble one, then finally decides she wants to be more than just one of the guys. I didn’t mind her friendship with the men at all, but I found it curious Millie had no female friends. It’s not that friendship with men automatically means a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to sharing feelings and having layers of honest emotion entwined in the relationship, but it bothered me that Millie had no real connection to any female. It allowed her to disassociate. And while that could be a valid storyline, Lauren never traveled down that path long enough for it to matter.
The mentions of Millie’s family and their needs only made me dislike her character more. Instead of making her relatable, as I assumed the authors wanted us to feel, her lack of any real empathy for her sister turned me off.
Millie was cold. She was closed off from her emotions and had zero depth. Lauren wants us to believe the reason Millie is this way is because her mother died when she was young and she was forced to pick up the pieces in her household … all while watching her younger sister and father bond and leave her out. I wasn’t buying it. Millie’s dismissal of her sister’s calls for help with their ailing father had me shaking my head at the constant show of callousness, and it made me not really care that things weren’t going Millie’s way in the other aspects of her life. She was selfish and one-dimensional.
And speaking of selfish … I found it kind of gross the way she pounced on Reid the night of the “half-night stand.” The guys in this story were its saving grace, Reid maybe most of all. The story is written from both his and Millie’s POV, and he came cross so likable and warm and compassionate. He was plugged into his sentimentality and it was inviting. He was (in my opinion) way out of Millie’s league.
The storyline was cute, and I loved the back-and-forths with the other guys in the group – especially Ed. Each had their own distinctive personality, and I enjoyed their banter and friendship. I would love to see some sort of spin-off that involved more of them and … less of Millie.
All in all, I can only give three stars to this book, which makes my heart hurt a little. As a rule, I will recommend any and all Christina Lauren books … but this one … left a little to be desired in the female category.