Intimate Friends by Claire Matthews

Heat Level 3
SKU 978-1-926950-68-6

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What happens when friendship turns into love?

Emma Whitten and Noah Jordan are high school teachers and best friends. Emma is about to leave for graduate school in England, wanting to assert her independence after a nasty break-up with her longtime boyfriend.

Noah, a math nerd, has been in love with Emma for quite some time, but keeps his feelings hidden, believing that she sees him as just a buddy. But after an afternoon of friendship slips into an evening of passion, Emma begins to see geeky Noah in a new light, and Noah begins to believe that they can be more than just friends.

Will Emma choose to move to England as planned, or acknowledge her growing feelings for Noah and find the will to stay?



Emma wandered to the kitchen, mixed another heavy-handed drink, and was searching blindly for the TV remote between the couch cushions when the doorbell rang.   Still wrapped in her musings over Greg, marriage, Melinda’s breasts, and the beautiful elixir that was gin and tonic, she was momentarily flustered. What the hell? Who would—

Noah. She’d completely forgotten that he was coming over. She made a loopy walk to the door and pulled it open with a jerk. She grinned at him, relieved to see a friendly face, desperate to free herself from her spiralling thoughts.

“Noah! C’min,” she cried, taking another hearty sip of her gin and tonic, wondering why her tongue suddenly felt so swollen. Noah eyed her warily.

“Whoa, are you okay? What are you drinking?” he asked, taking the glass from her hand and sniffing it. His eyes widened. “Is this straight gin?” He took a cautious sip, and his face twisted into a comical grimace.   “Oh God, that’s like paint thinner, Emma. Are you okay, did something happen?” His eyes were sweet and concerned, and for some reason they held her gaze for longer than they should have. It was the damn eyelashes.

“I’m fine, fine, jus’ felt like havin’ a little drinky-drink before dinner.” She grinned. He still looked worried as they walked towards the kitchen, and he unpacked the groceries he’d brought while she sat on the edge of the counter, her legs swinging rhythmically, bumping her heels against the cabinets underneath.

“What made you decide to propose to Jenny?” she asked suddenly. Noah stopped short, and looking at her with piercing eyes.

“Why do you ask?”

“Just curious. I mean, what makes a man fall so deeply in love that he proposes marriage? Is there a moment when he knows it’s time? Did you just think to yourself one day, ‘Man, that Jenny Dawson, she may be a bossypants, but she’s the one I want to share my life with, have sex with, make babies with, until the day I die.’ Or was it more gradual than that?”

“I proposed to Jenny because she told me to,” he said evenly. “I did everything she told me to do. It was kind of an issue in our marriage,” he said dryly. “Why the sudden interest in proposals?” She shrugged her shoulders, looked down at her lap. “Just tell me, Em, I know something’s up.”

She sighed, and her legs stopped swinging. “I saw Greg and his skank at Village Coffee this afternoon. She was sporting two enormous fake boobs, and one enormous engagement ring.”

Noah’s mouth made a perfect circle, and he executed a silent “ooohh”. His eyes were sympathetic, and she found herself instantly defensive.

“And I’m not jealous. And I’m not still in love with him. Okay?” She stared at him defiantly, her chin set hard.

“Okay, then why are you so upset?”

“What makes you think I’m upset?” she scoffed.

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact that you’re boozin’ it up at five o’clock on a Sunday afternoon?” He grinned a bit to take the bite out of his words. She sighed again, and dropped her gaze back to her knees.

“I’m just—” She paused, taking another sip of her drink. “I’m just…wondering if there’s anyone out there who will ever love me enough to—" She was mortified to find that tears were blurring her vision, and her throat was dangerously tight.

“Emma,” he whispered, moving slowly toward her.

“Ugh, please don’t.” She half laughed, half sobbed, jumping down from the counter and turning her back to him. “God, could I be more pathetic? Just forget I said anything. Let’s make dinner.” She opened the refrigerator, but he moved behind her and closed it with an arm over her shoulder. Then he spun her around to face him.

“Let’s get one thing straight first,” he said, his voice low and gentle, his breath soft against her face. “You are a beautiful, amazing, sexy woman. Any man would be lucky to have you.” His glasses slid down his nose, and before he could push them back up, Emma pulled them from his face and set them on the countertop, their eyes still locked. And suddenly Noah wasn’t her geeky best friend at all, but a man whose eyes trapped her, whose smell intoxicated her, whose full lips made tingly shivers run down her spine. She leaned forward slightly, and he froze, his eyes flashing with sudden comprehension.

“Emma, wait—“ But her lips cut him off, and then they were kissing. Or rather, she was kissing, and he was backing away, until he hit the wall behind them, and grabbed her upper arms, separating their bodies.

“Em, you’re drunk…” he warned, in a low, quivering voice.

“Not that drunk.” She reached for him again, and he scooted to his side, avoiding her arms.

Ouch. “Umm, okay…I’m sorry. I guess this kind of shoots holes your theory about me being sexy,” she murmured, crossing her arms awkwardly over her chest. “But you’re right, of course. I mean, this is crazy. I—“

Noah grabbed her, dragged her up against his firm chest, and proceeded to kiss her so thoroughly that she decided all previous kisses in her life had been silly, sloppy efforts, lost in the shadow of his mind-numbing worship of her mouth. Her entire body shot to life, pulse quickening, nerve-endings humming, fingers rising and anchoring in his soft curls.

She moaned, and he shifted, and then she was fumbling with his shirt, and he was fumbling with hers, and then their bodies were touching, skin to skin, and she had never, ever, been so turned on in her life. The fact that this was Noah turning her on, leaning to tongue her nipple through the slick silk of her bra, clutching her hips and pressing his arousal firmly against her, was too surreal to even think about. So she didn’t.

" feel so good," he groaned into her mouth. She let out a tiny whimper in response, unable to speak. His hands moved slowly up her sides, and her body melted into his. He slid his hands around her and lifted her in his arms, still kissing her, hard and wet. Her legs wrapped around him instinctively, and she realized that this position made up for their height difference, allowing her hips to fit squarely over his. The both seemed to recognize this new friction at the same moment, as he tore his lips from hers and attacked her neck, spreading hot kisses over her collarbone as her head arched back sharply.

His feet started to move beneath them, and then they stopped. Then started and stopped again. Emma's head lifted to see his brow furrowed, his face unsure.

"Bedroom," she gasped, kissing the worried wrinkles from his forehead. So he carried her to the bedroom.  

Product Reviews

Score: 4 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings)
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Coffee Time Romance Reviews
Written by undefined on 25th Apr 2012

Emma has decided to take control of her life. After her breakup with her long time boyfriend, she makes plans to move to London for graduate school. Noah cannot believe it is almost time for Emma to leave. He has been in love with her for a long time, but has never been able to tell her. Emma and Noah not only work together, they are best friends, both leaning on each other for support after their breakups. Noah knows he is in love with Emma, but has never had the nerve to tell her. Emma is not sure what she feels for Noah. When a night for hanging out turns into more, they have to face their feelings for each other. Noah wants Emma to stay, but she insists she has to go to prove her independence. Right from the beginning of this book, you want these two friends to become more than just friends. Noah and Emma seem like the perfect couple. Their personalities and actions made them fun characters to read about and root for. The intimate scenes were beautifully written, ranging from sweet to spicy, and they fit well with this couple. There were a few time sequences I found a bit confusing, but this was still a fun afternoon read.

Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
Written by undefined on 17th Apr 2012

What makes a guy fall so deeply in love he proposes? That is what Emma Whitten would really like to know. After five year with her, her ex-boyfriend still had a hard time sharing space with her, never mind even talking about the future. Now, after less than a year later, he has already put a huge ring on the woman who stole him from Emma! So why can’t Emma find someone who can love her enough to want forever with her. It’s a good thing she already has plans to go to England for graduate school as soon as she is done teaching for the year in two weeks. The only thing holding her together is her plans and goals. Noah Jordan has been divorced from his “bossypants” ex-wife (as Emma calls her) for about a year now. He realized he is in love with his best friend Emma shortly afterward (month or two). But being the nerdy best friend is the best he can hope for and doesn’t want to loose what he can get of her. Until the night he goes over for dinner and Scifi TV to find her drunk and depressed. She isn’t even missing her ex, but the fact that he has already proposed to his new girl when she has never been engaged. One thing leads to another and Noah gets his dream of having Emma in his arms (and bed). But Emma is still planning to go to England for graduate school. Those are not the type of plans easily changed. Noah even admits to being in love with her. But can she go from best friends to in love in such a short time. What about her becoming a stronger, independent woman and finding herself? Where does that leave Noah and all that love? Intimate Friends is quit the surprise. The hot, quickie romances tend to be focused and serious, even if it’s serious about being funny when they are a humorous story. Somehow, Claire Matthews stays true to her story yet includes everything we want in longer tales. We get a good background, full set-up for both characters, reasons why stuff happens, emotional turmoil, and the thing I LOVED: surprising humor during those intimate times. Hot, sexy scenes are great, but it seems that many romances and even erotic stories take them too seriously now-a-days. I’m sorry, but humans are funny and all those endorphins (from sex) lead to laughter in the best settings. When Emma and Noah finally start getting passionate and Noah says, “..ohmygodyou'resohot...” all together like that, it is funny! Of course, him growling it slowly next is hot and sexy, so the mood isn’t broken. That Claire had written such steamy scenes (yes there are others) yet kept Noah real at the same time shows a special touch. Intimate Friends is also surprising in that this isn’t the average friends becoming lovers story. Usually, they become lovers, and either fall in love along the way or realize they are already in love (or some combination of the two). Intimate Friends is a combination of these two ideas, where Noah has been in love with Emma for ages and Emma falls in love with Noah during their two weeks of being lovers. But unlike the usual story, that isn’t the end all leading to a happy ending. Emma is leaving for England in two weeks. These are important plans she feels she needs to follow through for her own improvement/independence. Noah lives and works here. No matter how much he loves her, he doesn’t feel right asking her to stay (even if he does hint) when she keeps talking about leaving. The almost ending was not what I expected but I was happy for the different twist along the way before our HEA. This feels much more true to life and give the characters more depth and realism. Intimate Friends is a great, everyday people story. The sexy nerd and average girl-next-door make for relatable characters, particularly ones dealing with break-up and life changes. Secretly being in love with your best friend is always a risk when you spend lots of time with the opposite sex but they make for the best relationships. The trick is finding the right person in any relationship and starting from friendship is always a great foundation. Claire Matthews has added enough heat and tension to make Intimate Friends feel like a real story yet still enjoyable reading.

LASR Erotic Romance Review
Written by undefined on 13th Apr 2012

Intimate Friends is a story of friends who are secretly crushing on each other but lack the assertiveness to approach the other. When one of them finds that assertiveness, the fireworks begin. Emma is a serious minded schoolteacher who dreams of studying Chaucer in England. She’s crushing on Noah whose “dorky good looks charm her.” Well, right there the story wins my love because I like non-standard situations. I also like when an author writes a good beta hero. Noah is definitely that! He’s sensitive and bookish but strong when he needs to be. In addition to being a beta-best-friend type, he’s also sort of an absent-minded professor type, in the most charming way possible. But love for these two is blossoming just as Emily is poised to make a change of life decision that she has been dreaming of forever and their love seems doomed. Still they cannot resist consummating their fierce desires for each other. The sex was hot and just what one would expect from an erotic romance. There was plenty of emotion and angst as the story progresses. Lots of creative vanilla naughtiness between them. There are no external baddies who make trouble for the couple. All their conflict comes from their conflicting desires. This is wonderful character driven romance. Ms. Matthews does a great job of showing their developing love and how they come to solve their differences and find their way to a happy ending. For anyone who ever had a secret crush on their math teacher, for anyone who ever wondered what happens when nerdy but attractive two schoolteachers get together, Ms. Matthews delivers the scoop. For those who like their sweet and sexy mixed together in just the right measure, don’t miss this one.

Smexy Books
Written by undefined on 1st Sep 2011

A friends to lovers story, that is really cute. Both Noah and Emma are quite shy and quiet. Noah is recently divorced and Emma has just come out of a long term relationship. Both teachers, they spend a lot of time together at the same school – and both pretty much have eyes for the other. I think this book could have been much cuter if it had been longer. The conflict rests with the fact that Emma has an opportunity to go study in England. Once they tumble into bed (where Noah isn’t quite as shy – Rawr) Emma is then unsure if she should go. I just think it needed more pages for this uncertainty to be explored. Otherwise, this is a cute, quick book (47 pages). I will definitely check out this author again.

Fiction Vixen Reviews
Written by Fiction Vixen on 22nd Aug 2011

The perfect way to describe this friends-to-lovers novella is short and sweet. The fact that I enjoyed it and am giving it a high rating is saying something, because normally romance novellas don’t do it for me. With romances, I need substantial character and relationship development, and just by default, it’s very difficult – if not impossible – to deliver that with a short book form like a novella. Claire Matthews’ Intimate Friends proved to be an exception, and an absolutely lovely one at that. One of the things I loved was that from the beginning, Emma and Noah’s friendship feels authentic; you really do get the sense that you’re looking in on two people who know each other very well and care about one another. Emma and Noah are best friends and teach at the same high school in Austin, Texas. Emma is a friendly girl-next-door type heroine and a lover of English literature; Noah is a sweet beta hero and math teacher, who in many ways appears to be your stereotypical nerd – though that does not extend to the bedroom *wink* *wink*. Both of them ended serious relationships about a year ago and neither has since reentered the dating world. What has happened in the meanwhile is that Noah’s feelings towards Emma have coalesced and grown into full-blown romantic love (see sigh-worthy quote below). He is afraid of jeopardizing their friendship and that Emma does not return his feelings, so despite his love for her, he has so far remained silent on the matter. Until … well, read the book to find out! The story is so short that writing too much of a summary will make reading it seem repetitive, so I’ll stop there. It’s very enjoyable watching Noah and Emma’s relationship move beyond friendship. One of the things that is a definite plus about novellas is the lack of room to throw in tons of obstacles, Big Misunderstandings, or Things Left Unsaid, and luckily Matthews didn’t even try. The obstacle they do have to overcome is a realistic one that fits with the story and characters. Even when they’re facing it, they’re still open about their feelings for one another – there’s no pretending or covering up or deflecting for their own sake or their partner’s. A hero and heroine acting maturely about their relationship: what a nice change! Intimate Friends is short – only 47 pages – and as with most novellas, I was left wanting more. However, the fact that I wished it was longer (not shorter), yet greatly enjoyed it despite its (lack of) length, is noteworthy. There are interesting and engaging main characters, sweet scenes, funny dialogue, and some nice sizzling chemistry: what’s not to like? Favorite Quote: It was so stupid, and random, but at that second, with the morning sun hitting her auburn hair, and her huge brown eyes fixed on him, the lock flew off the “do-not-allow-yourself-to-even-think-about-it” portion of his brain, and every feeling he ever had for her—feelings he never even realized he had for her—flooded over him like a tidal wave. Love, tenderness, desire—it hit him so hard he had to excuse himself, go to the men’s room, rest his forehead against the cool metal of the bathroom stall, breathing heavily, wondering what the hell had just happened. It left him exhausted and spent, as if he’d just run a hundred miles. And almost a year later, he was still exhausted, spent, frustrated … and madly in love.