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BOOK REVIEW: Up in the Treehouse (BelleCurve #1) by K.K. Allen

“Our friendship was like glass, fragile and irreplaceable. One moment of weakness … one mistake … and it might have shattered completely. Our friendship was worth too much to me to risk even the slightest crack.”

I have come to the conclusion lately that the only books I seem to ever read, or find interesting enough to check out, always end up being books in a series! Where are my standalone romance novels?! So let me start this review with asking my fellow readers... what are some really good standalone romance books that you are into these days??

Okay.. now that that is off my chest, let me tell you all about Up in the Treehouse by K.K. Allen! It is the first in the BelleCurve series, and it was a beautiful story. The story follows Chloe Rivers, a young woman who recently graduated from college, and after 4 years has finally returned to her childhood home for the summer to keep an eye on the house for her parents who have put the house up for sale. Four years ago, Chloe never thought she would keep a single secret from her best friend, Gavin Rhodes. But Chloe never thought she would fall in love with him either. One night changed everything for Chloe and Gavin.... she revealed her feelings to Gavin, and was rejected. With her heart shattered, Chloe fell straight into the arms of the wrong guy, her other close friend and Gavin's twin brother, Devon.

The Rhodes twins always considered Chloe their forbidden fantasy, and now with her having chosen between them, lines are drawn, and their feelings of love, friendship, and family is even more tangled than the treehouse that means everything to the three of them. Tragedy strikes one night, and changes their worlds forever. Chloe leaves town, haunted by guilt and secrets. Now that Chloe has returned after years, her and Gavin cannot seem to be in the same room without tension, and hurt feelings, and high emotions. It is now or never for the two of them to work through their secrets, and find some semblance of peace, whether that is by finding their deep connection again or moving on from each other's lives for good.

Up in the Treehouse is a second chance, unrequited love, contemporary romance written in a dual point of view from Chloe and Gavin. It is an emotional story about love, friendship, bullying, loss, betrayal, secrets, and finally forgiveness. The friendship that Chloe, Gavin, and Devon found in each other was so sweet. Chloe is first introduced to the twins after they have moved to town (and just through the woods from Chloe's house) when she watches them building a treehouse with their dad. Chloe is memorized by the twins and their treehouse hideaway, especially when a hideaway sounds so inviting with her being bullied by a school friend. When the twins help Chloe out from a particular bully moment, they become the best of friends. Though all three of them become best friends, Chloe and Gavin form a deep connection through their common interests, and personalities.

There are many themes mentioned and worked through in this book, like I mentioned above. The biggest theme is friendship and love. There are many types of love that humans can experience, and they can be with different people or with the same person as time and growth build on that connection. Chloe and Gavin are in middle school when they first meet. From the get-go they both realize that there is meaning and importance to the friendship they are developing. They are best friends. They share everything, spend every day together, help each other out, have common interests, and encourage each other to follow their dreams.

As they get older, they realize that there is a stronger bond there than just friendship. Chloe very much wants to see what more there could be in their relationship and hopes that Gavin will make a move. When they are given a chance to go to a convention together, just the two of them, Chloe realizes this is their chance to explore and see if there is something truly there beyond friendship. When given the chance to put her feelings out there, Gavin steps back, and doesn't follow Chloe but says no. When you are first reading this, you start to get really frustrated with Gavin. You can see the connection and feelings that they both have, but Gavin won't give it a chance. Why not?!

After this, Chloe feels a little awkward, and is glad to get away from both twins for the summer. When she gets back for their senior year, Chloe begins to spend more time with Devon as she tutors him with classes. Chloe begins to see a different side to Devon than she normally does and gives him a chance. Now Chloe is dating the twin that she truly only sees as a friend and is missing the one that means everything to her. When tragedy strikes, Chloe is guilted into leaving town before she can really say goodbye to Gavin.

Years later, Chloe returns home and sees Gavin for the first time since the devastating events pushed her to leave sooner than she planned. Years where it hurt too much for Chloe to even hear Gavin's name. And now, they see each other across a bar and can't stop watching each other.

“I got what I wanted. I saw her. She seemed to be doing fine. But the pain in my chest won’t fucking go away when I think of her.”

Chloe and Gavin both have unfinished and repressed feelings towards each other. Chloe has been ignoring the secrets and feelings that she harbored all those years ago, and even to this day. Gavin is full of anger, resentment, and confusion as to how and why his absolute best friend in the world could have left without a word when he needed her the most. They both have an attraction towards each other, and both try to ignore it. And knowing that they only have a limited time in such close proximity with each other, they both want to come to terms with what happened and move on from it.

For Gavin, he just wants to understand, and then move on with or without Chloe as a friend, and that is it. For Chloe, she wants to work through the secret she has been holding on to for all of these years, wants to be truthful and honest with Gavin, but is so afraid of rejection and getting her heart broken again. Truthfully, their journey from best friends, to possibly more, to almost strangers, and to finally a love match is beautiful and heart wrenching.

Another huge theme in this story is secrets. Both Gavin and Chloe both hold secrets close to their hearts throughout the book. Gavin is afraid to give in to his feelings of love for Chloe because he is afraid of ruining what they have, of losing the most important person in the world to him. In present day, Chloe feels guilt and sadness for her part in Devon's tragedy, feels she is to blame for what happened, and that Gavin blamed her as well. She feels guilty knowing that Devon was so angry, and that she was the cause of his anger, or so she thinks.

Also, in present day, Gavin is holding onto a very large secret that you do not catch on to until very far into the book, almost the end. I will not say exactly what his secret is but when it was revealed, I was shocked, and then learning more details surrounding his secret, I was flabbergasted. Gavin is truly the best brother and a wonderful friend. He thinks of others' feelings and emotions over his own. He finally has the girl, and his secret could ruin everything. Chloe's reaction is not unexpected, but then when he respects her choice for space, you just want to scream at her to not give up on him!

Honestly, there are so many details and moments that happen in this book that I could write paragraphs about. I loved reading about Chloe and Gavin's love story. They are both two people who are kind, caring, and always want to help others. They are both timid and shy in revealing their true feelings, and there are so many opportunities where you just want to yell at them both to just speak your mind, tell your truth, and hope that it will work out in your favor! At the same time, I love the push and pull, the tension, the angst, the fighting, the stolen kisses that they experience with each other. They both want the other; they are both afraid of being hurt. And the biggest thing for Gavin is that Chloe was Devon's first - he can't take his brother's girl. Or was she??

Overall, I gave this book four stars because I couldn't put it down. The writing had me hooked, the storyline had me intrigued, and I loved the anti-bullying storyline that Gavin and Chloe are a part of as adults. I think my biggest frustration with the story is that there were so many times things could have happened differently if Gavin and Chloe were just truly honest with each other about their feelings, both when they were younger, and also again as adults.

“When she left she took a piece of me with her—and it wasn't until she returned that I realized just how big that piece was.

I want it back.”

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