Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (2024)

Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

1,287 reviews3,376 followers

April 1, 2024

It's been OVER TWO WEEKS and this author is still attacking me, completely unprovoked, on social media.

Since this is - at least - the second time she has done this since her book came out, I'm going to address her comments here quickly, because I cannot believe how unprofessional this is and I don't want other reviewers to ever see this kind of thing and think it's normal/okay. Then I'm going to forget all about this (which I literally had until I learnt she was still talking about me, lol).

Here's her going on about me in a comment on one of her Instagram posts:

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (2)

Let's start with some free editing advice: it's spelt 'vicious', not 'viscious', and there are also commas between numerous listed adjectives in the English language. As for "I don't believe I was nasty" and "I'm not the one who needs to do better"... this has actually killed me. Authors can think whatever they want about themselves (and me), but airing this all out in public is doing nothing but making you come across as insanely unable to take criticism. (In which case, STOP READING REVIEWS. They're for readers, not authors).

How is an author published by Penguin reacting like this still over one negative review, which actually - to be quite honest - contains information that I suspect would be useful to anyone who genuinely wanted to write a knowledgeable book about rowing at Oxbridge?

But deciding people who don't like your books are just 'angry' is easier, I suppose. Authors, readers are going to tend to stay away from the books of people whose attitude is that they can do no wrong - the commenter had literally said she enjoyed the author's book, only to be met with negativity. I have read many authors whose first books I didn't enjoy, but I'll never read an author who hates honest reviewers. Frankly it just seems like an exhausting way to live your life. The word 'rent-free' springs to mind...

Anyway, the author followed up with this essay, which... is certainly one way to make a loyal reader feel valued just for leaving a comment.

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (3)

Vastly entertained that "I'll delete the comment if the reviewer replies to me though" was missed out here:

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (4)

Anyway, it's Ramadan now and I have sooooo many better things to do with my time. I think I've got my point across: authors commenting publicly on reviews is never going to be a good idea, and ESPECIALLY not when it's to repeatedly call the reviewer 'vicious' [sic] and make personal comments about them.

Let's end on a positive note: Cambridge won all its races on Saturday!! Honestly, Oxford, at least try...

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (5)

Just dropping this here as she's deleted her comment now and I wouldn't want people to think I was talking to myself...

Anyway, as you were.

This book is SO badly written I'm actually torn between amusem*nt and horror.

I'm at work right now, but luckily my supervisor is out and I can't take it anymore, I just have to write this down in case some poor (most likely) American out there picks up this book and thinks this is, like, a nice and well-researched romance novel set against the backdrop of Oxbridge and rowing. I haven't forgotten the nightmare that was trying to read Red, White and Royal Blue...

So I leapt to read this book because (a) I went to Cambridge; and (b) I spent most of that time in my college boat club, coxing but also occasionally rowing. Rowing is my favourite sport and being in the club, and out on the river, was a hugely important part of my life. Basically every single one of my friends was also in the club, and as someone who hated sports all throughout school, it was a revelation to find one that actually made me want to push myself, show team spirit, etc.

I've talked a few times in my reviews on here about how much I'd love to read a rowing romance and how surprised I am there aren't more, since rowing is the quintessential posh-boy sport. This book... is not the answer.

Here's a rundown of my thoughts as I waded through the first ~15%, and some general observations:

⤅ The very first thing I did when I opened this book is search for instances of the word 'campus'. FIFTEEN showed up, and that's when I realised with a sinking feeling that this book was going to be a pile of poorly-researched cliches and shortcuts. The simplest, most fundamental thing any Oxbridge student can tell you is that there is no campus!!!! Those are collegiate universities, i.e. the entire city is the 'campus' and has buildings peppered all around it!!! So no, Lulu Moore, there is no 'small supermarket on campus' for our hero to jog to, BECAUSE THERE IS NO CAMPUS. Nor can he live off-campus... BECAUSE THERE IS NO CAMPUS. I wrote in my reviews of the Emily Wilde novels how insane it is that the author chose to make her heroine a Cambridge professor without knowing even this basic fact about the uni, and I just can't fathom it. Like... do your research??? Ask people???

⤅ Similarly, Kate talks about her 'dorm room'. No, it's a college room! There are no dorms! Arthur is also described as a 'third-year finalist', which simply can't be the case - at Oxford, an undergraduate classics degree lasts four years. Amusingly, had the author simply relied on the usual lack of research and used American four-year degrees as a lazy shorthand, she'd have been correct here. But no, she knows enough to know that most English BAs are three years long... just not the Oxford Classics BA. (Credit to my classicist friend Zaynab for pointing out this one). (Happy now, Zaynab??)

⤅ The heroine comes off as one of the greatest idiots of all time, like 'can't be allowed out on her own' levels of stupid. Here is a genuine quote from her:

how anyone navigated themselves around the London Underground network without being a member of MENSA was beyond me.

I'm sorry, but... what? The Tube is the oldest subway system in the world and consistently tops lists of the world's best transit systems, because it is SO easy to navigate. I am currently out in Hong Kong, and the MTR here is also excellent. These kinds of things, particularly in tourist-heavy places like London and Hong Kong are designed to be incredibly easy to interpret - they're colour-coded, there are maps available everywhere, Google Maps and Citymapper have up-to-the-minute updates... Kate, I hate to break it to you, but you don't need to be a 'member of MENSA' to use the Tube. You just need to have half a functioning brain cell, which is clearly where you are lacking.

⤅ Kate also comes off as naive, thick, and annoying in other ways. She constantly references Mr Darcy and it comes off as SO cringy. At one point, she asks the hero how he knows she's a cox, not a rower, and her stupidity almost made me lost for words. (Almost!). She's already told us she's 5'1"; NOBODY is rowing the Boat Race at that height. Look at the rower heights from the last few years, men and women - the men consistently top six feet, and the women are Amazons too. In rowing, height is a key element. The idea of someone below c. 5'4" in the Blue Boat is genuinely risible, and the fact Kate acts like she didn't know that makes her seem dumb, for someone who's been rowing over five years.

⤅ The writing is just awful, I'm sorry. This is Kate's internal monologue on first encountering Arthur:

I could confidently say he was easily the best-looking, scratch that, most beautiful man, nope, scratch again, the most beautiful human being I'd ever seen.

Oh, my God. Excuse me while I throw up a little. This is why people make fun of romance novels. And then, later, we get this gem:

my senses were immediately assaulted by the most hedonistic, earthy man scent

Does anyone want to tell me what 'hedonism' smells like? Or why it apparently smells like a sweaty male? I'll spare you the quote about the eyes 'flecked with delicate cobalt at the edges' and the 'azure eyes ringed in navy' we get too. Bloody hell.

⤅ The author has clearly done some amount of research on rowing itself, but I regret to say that it's not enough. Rowing is a really technical sport, I appreciate that, but choosing to write about something still means having to get it right. So no, you can't 'press down on the rudder' of a boat - they aren't brake pedals, a rudder is basically a piece of string which you pull in the opposite direction to the one you want to go in. It isn't 'tryouts' for the Blue Boat, it's called 'trialling'. They aren't 'meets', they're 'outings'. I suppose you can argue this is being pedantic, but these are the things that should be correct - you can have artistic licence in other places, like the number of times the Oxbridge teams actually compete with each other before the Boat Race itself (not nearly as many times as this book suggests) but get the basics right.

More minor points which still betray a deep-seated inability to research, but aren't as infuriating:

⤅ The hero talks about how his father, grandfather, and so on for generations have all studied 'economics' at Oxford. Judging from the gravity this sentence is imbued with, it's quite clear Moore meant PPE, not 'economics'. In fact, Oxford doesn't even offer a standalone Economics degree - the closest would be Economics and Management. Go on the UCAS website, do a quick Google, do something...

⤅ Moore keeps writing out the full names of things instead of their acronyms and it's so jarring. Stop saying 'Oxford University Boat Club', it's OUBC! What was the point of having a list of acronyms at the start of the book if you keep using the full thing? Like coxswain, seriously, you can just say cox, we all do... It would be like constantly saying 'I'm headed to the Automated Teller Machine' or something.

⤅ 'Whoa' is spelt 'woah'. Enough said.

⤅ You aren't 'in' a college, you're 'at' a college. This is more bad English than poor research - nobody would say they're 'in' Harvard.

��� How can a book about rowing at Oxbridge not mention Bumps or Torpids one single time??

It's a shame this book turned out to be more or less as bad as I suspected it would.

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (6) Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (7) Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (8)

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (9)

nikki ༗

462 reviews122 followers

Want to read

March 31, 2024

the way that i love fictional and/or niche sports in my books haha


369 reviews3,016 followers

March 16, 2024

loved this book!!! she rows for cambridge, he rows for oxford. they’re rivals but they can’t stay away from each other. loved their meet cute and their whole relationship development!!! the audiobook was great.


243 reviews1 follower

March 14, 2024

5/5✨️ 1.5/5🌶

Happy Release Day to Oar than Friends! 🚣‍♀️💙🚣‍♂️

Lulu is back with the first book in her new rowing romance series. After tackling the worlds of baseball and hockey, she now has her sights set on rowing. And let me just say this is now my new comfort read, as Kate and Oz spent their time together on and off the water.

This story focuses on Kate and Oz, as Kate is freshly off the plane from the States as she enrolled in her first year at Cambridge University. When she first meets Oz, who is in his final year at Oxford University, it is as if the rom-com gods themselves planned their introduction. Although these two should be bitter rivals, as they attend different prestigious institutions & come from very different worlds, the ultimate showdown between Cambridge and Oxford comes to a head. They share something forbidden but more powerful, as it changes both of their lives as they find everything they both never knew they needed in each other.

Kate epitomizes a woman who will leave her mark on the world, as she wears her heart on her sleeve. She's a medical student who's all heart & passion, as she has so much spark about her. She's internally torn to balance her dreams & her pull home. I adored her and found her so relatable, as I greatly appreciated her strength and fiestyness for the people in her life, as well as her goals. Oz, where do I begin with this man? English men just always hit differently for me, but Oz is a dream; he comes from a world with many stereotypes that seem to follow him, as he was charismatic and thoughtful. I loved how hard he loved Kate as he thrived to make his own path in life.

What a story with so much heart! If you love authors like Hannah Bonam-Young, you won't want to miss this one. Lulu combined my all-time favorite tropes and mixed them with the exuberance and liveliness of rowing. From the sportsmanship to comradery to the friendships, I didn't know which team or friendship group I wanted to be a part of more. I hope every one of them gets a story and to catch up with Kate and Oz again very soon.

Huge thank you to @lulumoorebooks & @valentine_pr_ for the ARC 💙


47 reviews4 followers

May 1, 2024

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!

Love this book! Read the whole thing in one sitting, I could not put this down! My first book by Lulu Moore and it definitely will not be my last.

Do I know a single thing about rowing… no… but now I want to! I fell in love with both Kate and Oz as a couple instantly. They complemented each other perfectly - I was rooting for them the whole time. Plus all the supporting characters were amazing – I want to be friends with their friends! Cannot wait for more in this series and to read more by Lulu! If you are looking for a super sweet romance to dive into look no further.

    contemporary favorites romance


165 reviews797 followers

March 13, 2024


Oar Than Friends is an enemies to lovers, college sports romance, and it’s like no other I’ve read before! I do not know what Lulu puts into her books but it’s damn addictive!!

Kate and Arthur are EVERYTHING to me! Their banter was superb, seriously couldn’t get enough of them!

Also this was the first rowing romance that I’ve ever read and it definitely won’t be the last!

Big thank you to Lulu for sending me an ARC of Oar Than Friends! I had the best time reading and I cannot wait for this masterpiece to be out in the world!

March 15, 2024

“No one has ever called me Ozzy, it makes me feel like I’m yours.”

An ARC was kindly provided by Valentine PR and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oar Than Friends follows Kate and Arthur’s story. She’s an American student who just moved to Cambridge to study medicine and be part of their women’s rowing team. He’s the son of a politician who’s always in the spotlight; he has a bad (and not real) reputation that precedes him, and is the president of Oxford’s rowing team.
The book was fun, sweet, and entertaining. Kate is intelligent and cute, and Oz is caring and loving. Their relationship is adorable, honestly. The meet-cute was great and funny, and they had a palpable instant chemistry. Although the moments of miscommunication were frustrating (yet not uncalled for, since they’re college students), their relationship’s development was on point. I loved reading and learning the progression of their feelings and how they were so supportive of each other.
There were some deeper themes – such and grief – that the author portrayed very well in the story. As someone who knows nothing about rowing, the book was amazing. I felt genuinely curious and liked learning about it. I also loved the college rivalry that gave a bit of a forbidden and enemies to lovers taste! And I definitely adore the way Lulu Moore writes about friendships and found family.
The book was overall great and gave me so much joy. It felt kinda slow at some points (mostly at the beginning), but it’s a good read and worth giving it a shot!
Thank you, Valentine PR, NetGalley and Lulu Moore for the opportunity to read this book.

    arcs netgalley

Black Ink Riot

181 reviews35 followers

March 19, 2024

This “author” refuses to do the bare minimum of research so her books are laughably uninformed.

She also harassed a legitimate reviewer calling her review a “rant.”

On to the “f*ck no, never read any of her books again pile” she goes

    authors-to-avoid authors-who-harass-reviewers


66 reviews58 followers

March 14, 2024

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Spice: 🌶️

- Rival Rowing Teams
- College sports
- American FMC
- British MMC

Oar then Friends is a cute story about Kate and Oz who are members of rival college rowing teams, Kate with Cambridge and Oz with Oxford. I knew absolutely nothing about rowing going into this book, but I definitely learned something about it after reading this. It was a little slow for me at times, but overall a good story. I absolutely loved that the chapters had names! Chapter names should definitely make a come back. I will say, the British slang was a little hard for me to follow at times, but that’s on my lack of knowledge on British slang. If you’re looking for a cute story, sweet romance, low spice, easy read, then definitely check out Oar then Friends.

Review copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

    arcs sports-romance three-star-reads


291 reviews31 followers

March 14, 2024

5+ stars!

Oh my goodness, where to start?!
I absolutely adored this book and fell head over heels in love with both Kate and Oz.

I knew pretty much nothing about rowing going into the story and was worried this might impact my enjoyment or I might get bored, but couldn’t have been more wrong. I defy anyone not to be on the edge of their seat reading that final race!

Kate has moved from the states to Cambridge to study medicine on a scholarship and hopes to also make their women’s rowing team. Her reasons for being there are heartbreaking, and Lulu handles this really sensitively.
Oz is the son of a politician who is never out of the tabloids, but his reputation is not representative of his true character. He’s studying at Oxford and is a very successful rower who is also part of their team.

As a Brit it was great to read a book set in England with a British main character and an American. It worked really well and the British humour definitely shone through. The banter in this book is fantastic, there are some real laugh out loud moments (I was in tears laughing at a couple of points!)
Oz was seriously swoony- I fancy his chances in the 2024 book boyfriend polls!

I’m already desperate for book 2- there’s a little sneak peak at the end of Oar than Friends and I can’t wait to read more about Violet, she is fabulous!

If you’re an original Lulu Moore fan- you’ll love this book and these characters who are new to the Luluverse.
And if you’re new to Lulu’s books, I urge you to go back and read her backlist after this- you won’t be disappointed, she writes some incredibly swoony men as well as strong heroines who you’ll want to be bffs with.

Huge thank you to Lulu and Penguin for the opportunity to read this book early in exchange for my honest review. It was an honour.

Emily Thompson

752 reviews6 followers

January 20, 2024

Omg I loved this book so much!! I could not put this book down. I know nothing about rowing but my heart was leaping out of my chest during that final race. More importantly I adored Oz and Kate.they really are two halves of the same greater hole. Their meet cute wa pretty comical and our girl Kate made him work for it when it comes out they are rivals in the rowing world. Our main man is a persistent one though full of some serious swoon moments and some really good cheeky ones too.

There was such playful banter and flirting throughout the whole story but yet it also was so deep and a tale about grief and trauma too. Kate post her brother a few years earlier and comes to terms with alot of that guilt and grief that comes after a major loss. Lulu did an incredible job tackling that delicate topic of survivors guilt. Oz also has lot to sort out in his own life too as the story progresses.

One thing I always appreciate about Lulu’s books is that the main characters always complement one another and experience growth together as a partnership so the dynamic never feels one sided. As much as I adored these two, I kept yelling at my kindle for a bit there. IYKYK. My heart hurt for them so much when it all hit the fan and they were spiraling. Even in their rougher times though they were still all about one another which helped my heart a bit.

As the first book in this world, I cannot wait to see what comes next. We got an intro to a prime ensemble of characters and I adore Charlie and Olly so I hope they get their own book too!

    5-star-reads arc


330 reviews105 followers

March 25, 2024

okay so i read this on a whim and absolutely fell in love?!? a book set in the uk where two people rowing for long-time rival universities fall in love like PLS this was so cute and fun and i had the BEST time reading it, i’m so sad i finished and miss it already 😭

    book-boyfriends hand-in-marriage my-best-girls


611 reviews21 followers

January 21, 2024

A breathtakingly unique take on the college rivals and sports romance tropes.

A question for a question. What’s a girl to do when the guy you hit it off with at the start of your first year at Cambridge is actually attending Oxford? Oh, and he’s on the rival rowing team with a rivalry so intense you’re not sure you’re allowed to see him.

Oz perfectly embodies boy obsessed. As Kate tries to fight her attraction to him and his efforts to spend time with her, Oz doubles down. His inner monologue is incredibly sweet and I adore him. Kate is a strong FMC dealing with a trauma that’s currently dictating how she lives her live. Watching her gain strength and confidence from her relationship with Oz, and using that follow her own path, was a highlight for me.

Lulu really never misses for me. I’ve never read a rowing romance, and I don’t know how any could top this. She always incorporates humor, romance, and plot in such a way where you’re obsessed by the beginning. I also love that she got to embrace the British with this book!

I BEG for the rest of Oz’s friend group to get books. I love how different they all are, but they fit together so well.

Thank you to Penguin for the early copy! I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jess - Reader of Books

711 reviews49 followers

March 10, 2024

Oar than Friends by Lulu Moore 🩵
Oxbridge, Book 1
Interconnected Standalone

NA • Romance
ARC Review
423 pages
🗓️ March 14th

🚣🏻‍♂️ sports romance
🚣🏻‍♀️ rival schools
🚣🏻‍♂️ unknown identities
🚣🏻‍♀️ secret relationship
🚣🏻‍♂️ he falls first (also literally)
🚣🏻‍♀️ dual POV

📍“I wanted to claim her heart and her mind, like she had claimed mine.”

I grew up in Portugal. And that means I’ve heard a lot about Cambridge, Oxford, and their rivalry. Probably more than Harvard and Yale. And yet I couldn’t have told anything about rowing except for it’s a water sport of sorts. The same way I couldn’t tell you much of anything about Lulu Moore’s writing before Oar than Friends introduced me to her.

Now, here I stand before you — not literally but you get what I’m saying — having almost lost my mind during that last race, fiercely rooting for them, and knowing that this was my first of many Lulu Moore books because her storytelling is absolutely fantastic 😱🥹

📍“I don’t care. Let them watch. It’s worth it if it means I get to have you.”

I don’t even know where to start with my praise. The writing? The characters? The story line? The subplots that made everything so much richer? All of the above? Because everything was 5+ stars and I consumed this book like Oz’s brother consumed those lobster rolls 🤌🏼

Do yourself a favor and set an alarm for March 14th. You don’t want to miss out on this one 🥹

Thank you so much @lulumoorebooks @valentine_pr_ @penguinrandomhouse and @netgalley for this eARC. It was absolutely sublime and a favorite of the month for sure 🩵

    favorites netgalley

Samantha Sonne

59 reviews4 followers

March 14, 2024


I have to admit I know NOTHING about competitive rowing, but did that stop me from enjoying this book? HELL NO. This was such a heartwarming book full of sugar & spice and everything nice!

Kate has just arrived at Cambridge University (in England) for her first year of medical studies. She happens to stumble upon Oz (almost literally) on campus one night. They end up chatting for a bit and there’s an instant connection between them. Kate is excited for their first real date until she finds out that he’s the captain of the Oxford men’s rowing team which is her schools biggest rival! Enter pining, sneaking around, hurt feelings, & drama, but it’s all worth it to get to their happily ever after! 🙌🏻🫶🏻

Kate and Oz (Arthur) were so good together! Even when they were “enemies”, the banter between them was fabulous and their chemistry was off the charts! Lulu’s books are always a hit for me!💗 I absolutely love her writing and I cannot wait for the next book in this series! Add this to your TBR now!

Thank you to @lulumoorebooks and @valentine_pr_ for this arc in exchange for my honest review! 🩵💙🤍



78 reviews4 followers

March 19, 2024


You better ROWWW b*tch.

Did I ever think I would love a rowing romance or Google what a coxswain was? No, but here I am.

Kate Astley is a med student from America rowing for Cambridge while Arthur Osbourne-cloud, aka Oz, is the equivalent to British Royalty for Oxford and is the rowing team’s captain. They’re supposed to be rivals but que será, será.

I should have beef with Oz for calling Kate his Yankee Doodle except it’s lowkey cute and he’s obsessed with her so I’ll let it slide. He’s down BAD. Sending pie for thanksgiving bc you miss home. Sending multiple texts when guys IRL leave you on read for a week… Completely understood why Kate folded. and ofc there’s a “who made you cry scene” 🥹

Although there’s low angst, I loved how the author included how women are more scrutinized in public relationships vs. men (WHERE IS KATE!!! and ofc Miss Swift). And what I thought was going to be the conflict ended up showing how meant for each other Kate and Oz are.

Oar than friends is such a cute romance and I need y’all to read it.

Thank you to Valentine PR, NetGalley, and Lulu Moore for this arc in exchange for an honest review! Oar than Friends is out now ✨

Amanda Grace

531 reviews47 followers

March 10, 2024

I am a huge Lulu fan and could not contain my excitement when I found out what this book was about. I loved it for so many reasons, but especially because it evoked a level of nostalgia within me that I cannot properly explain. Rowing reminds me of days gone by and I was so happy to revisit them with Oz and Kate. I cannot stop thinking about these characters. They will live rent free in my head and heart forever.

The rivalry between the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs sets the perfect stage for this story. Oz and Kate have a hilarious meet cute and are immediately attracted to each other. She has no idea that he is the President of Oxford's crew and he has no idea she is rowing for Cambridge. Kate hears rumors about the infamous Arthur Osbourne-Cloud and does not see how their relationship can work once she finds out he is the same guy she is falling for. I loved seeing Oz prove to Kate over and over again that they belong together.

There are some bumps along the way and the last one almost broke me, but the conflict makes sense with the various things going on in their lives. These characters feel complex and mature for their age while also being relatable. The strong emotions are perfectly balanced with witty banter. I rooted for Oz and Kate as a couple and as competitors. He is prime book boyfriend material and I am ready to fill out the application to be her BFF. I fully believe in their HEA and cannot wait to see more of them. I'll be over here not so silently begging for bonus content.

The well is deep for more books in this series because Lulu Moore is a genius at creating friend groups that readers become attached to. I am completely enamored with these characters and desperate for more stories.

My favorite quote: “He tasted like everything I shouldn’t be doing but was going to anyway. Like the sweetness of fresh waffles. Like winters in Vermont. Like decadence.” 😌

Thank you to Lulu and Penguin Random House UK for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

    meet-cute netgalley rivals-to-lovers


99 reviews13 followers

May 9, 2024

This was my first book by @lulumoorebooks and now I need to go back and read her entire backlist! This book was literal perfection and is now living in my head rent free 😍

Oz has just jumped towards the top of my Book Boyfriends list! He was a boy obsessed from the moment they met and she crushed his nuts 😂 That’s a pretty good meet-cute in my book! I loved how intentional he was with Kate. He didn’t care about the long-standing rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge, he just cared about her. He supported her and celebrated her wins, even though she was “the enemy”. And when he ran to her side anytime she cried, he had me swooning! And his nickname for her… DEAD!! 🫠

Kate was such a fun character. I loved the American in Cambridge story and that she was trying to follow her brother’s dream. She was so hardworking and dedicated to everything she did, and I loved cheering her on like the crowd on the Thames. She was hesitant in starting a relationship with Oz, but he was patient and I loved seeing the true Kate come through, seeing her figure out her own dreams and chasing after them.

I love that Sports Romances are branching out to cover less popular sports, and this book has made me a rowing fan! I think the rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge was portrayed so well and I loved the mascot drama. Both teams dedication was so clear and I loved the support they received at the Boat Race.

I loved all the friendships and side characters, and I seriously can’t wait for Charlie and Violet’s book next!! 😍

Thank you so much @NetGalleyUK and Lulu Moore for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

- Rivals to Lovers
- Boy Obsessed
- Forbidden Love
- Secret Relationship
- Love at First Sight
- Sports Romance
- Billionaire Romance
- He Falls First
- British Hero x American Girl


129 reviews1 follower

March 12, 2024

The way I loved this book. ❤️

This book hits all my high notes: sports, obsessed and intelligent MCs, a friend group that is more like family and great banter.

The romance - I just adored Kate and Oz. The way they continually chose each other despite blips and trips along the way is everything I want in a romance book. The supporting cast of characters is elite and just friend goals.

The sports - I went in with nothing, nada, no previous experience, and it did not matter. I was captivated by the tradition, the athleticism, and the competition of rowing. Do not be afraid to wade into the water here.

This book gives it all, and I'm not ashamed to say, I laughed, I cried, and I may have bit through my lip because of the tension in the end.

I'll end by stating that it is not unknown what a Lulu stan I am, but, when I tell you I was nervous about a new world, new sport and new country, I shouldn't have been. Lulu put me right in the story - I was on the River Thames cheering for these wonderfully written characters while eating McVities Jaffa Cakes. You will be too!

Thank you to Lulu and Penguin Random House UK for an advanced copy for my honest review.


2,568 reviews195 followers

Shelved as 'dont-want-to-read'

March 19, 2024

See Namera's review. Poorly researched and annoying.


108 reviews12 followers

March 21, 2024


Love at first sight ✔️
College Rivals ✔️
Golden Retriever MMC ✔️


"𝗦𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀𝗻'𝘁 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮 𝗴𝗶𝗿𝗹. 𝗦𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗶𝗿𝗹."

Firstly, I would like to thank Lulu Moore and Valentines PR for allowing me this ARC. I absolutely adored reading this book, and having it as my first book of Lulu’s just made it even more enjoyable for me.

I’ve slowly been delving into the sports romance genre, but I’ve never seen a sports romance that focuses on rowing! It’s because of Lulu that I will be paying closer attention to whenever rowing is on TV, especially to see if I can find a man like Oz. I also want to watch more rowing so I can appreciate and love the glossary that was the front of the book because that made it even better for me!

Instead of a reformed playboy, you have a gentleman with a heart of gold who has so much passion for a sport that it is remarkable to say the least. He’s been so many great milestones within rowing (ones that I didn’t even know existed until now) and yet he keeps finding more milestones to achieve. I like that Lulu strayed away from the cliches that you find within sports romance and made something fun and beautiful. While I am a sucker for a cliche, I do love when things happen differently, I’d be crazy not too. Oz is a golden retriever in human form and I refuse to believe anything else. He’s kind, warm, genuine, funny, handsome and all around perfect, hell, it’s hard to find a red flag attached to him! My heart breaks for him regarding his dad; Oz deserves much better when it comes to him, a dad who won’t be an asshat or someone who treats his family so poorly. Despite his dad, the rest of Oz’s family are lovely, and the dynamic they have is something that others would do illegal things for. Getting to see him spend time with his family while having Kate there was one of my favourite moments and one I’ll be thinking about for a long time!

Kate being an American was something that I really liked in this story. I had no idea that rowing was popular in America so it was nice to learn that little fun fact. Another thing that I liked about this story was that Kate was involved with the sport, once again Lulu is straying from the cliches and allowing something unique to be a part of the story! I would just like to point out that while some have branded this story as an enemies to lovers, I wouldn’t describe that as one of the tropes, if anything it’s not even a rivals to lovers and there’s love at first sight taking place. Kate is someone who exudes confidence while being down to earth, loyal and unique. Kate goes for what she believes in but also strays from achieving her own dreams in the hopes that she’ll achieve her brothers instead. Kate did frustrate me at times but I can also understand why her scholarship was so important to her; I just wish that she had a bit more trust in Oz considering he had showed he would do anything for her if it meant she was happy.

Friendships played such an important role in this story, and I love that even with rivalry, friendships were still present with both teams. It showed you more about the characters while also creating a great support system on both sides. The friendships also make you want more stories for the characters, and that is something that I am BEYOND excited for! I loved how mature the friendships were and that instead of silly arguments and judgments, the friends rallied around one another and spoke through things logically. I truly believe that without the friendships that Kate and Oz had, they would’ve gone crazy.

The little sneaking around, the moments where you got to see the sport in action, the dreams the characters had. All of these things made the story more beautiful and created something incredible. Everything was so well thought out with this story that it’s hard to think anything negative, and it breaks my heart that I did find three little negative points.

The reason I rated the book down a little was for three reasons:

1. Lack of representation. There were no mentions of characters who had different races, sexualities or disabilities. This left me feeling a little disappointed as I believe that representation is important.

2. Plot holes. The press and a certain situation played a big part through out the story, if not, made the turning point, and yet we never found out what happened to those involved. You cannot have something play a major part and then leave it hanging, it leaves the reading wanting to know more and unsatisfied due to having no outcome.

3. Oz’s dad. I guess this blends in with the plot holes. He was an absolute dock and once Oz finally stood up to him, everything became radio silent. What happened to him? What happened to his contact with the rest of his family? The man deserved to be called out for his sh*t and yet it didn’t happen.

If you’ve made it to the end of this review, I hope it’s clear that I loved this story and that I would happily read it time and time again. Also, please can we just appreciate the stories name? IT’S SO FREAKING CUTE.

Mary Allison Page

457 reviews19 followers

March 17, 2024

brb I’m going to England and joining a rowing team 🚣

Honestly though, Oar Than Friends was SO MUCH FUN!! AND SO ADORABLE!! It was so British and so cute and will have you kicking and giggling 99% of the time.

Oz and Kate were perfect. I loved how they clicked and how much they supported each other despite attending competitor schools. Also, I loved how sweet they were, but not in an overbearing/ridiculous way lol.

The rowing team aspect was so unique and I want more rowing romances asap! I know zero about the sport, but Oar Than Friends was easy follow while also being pretty sporty! Lulu did a great job simplifying it for us non-rowers.

This was my first Lulu Moore book and I can’t wait to pick up another! Also, looking forward to the rest of the Oxbridge series now 🫶

🚣 Tropes 🚣
Sports Romance
Enemies(ish) to Lovers
Love at First Sight
Secret Romance

Thank you Valentine PR and Lulu for an eARC in exchange for my review <3

Download today on Amazon, Apple Books, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kindle Unlimited, and Kobo!

Amazon: https://bit.ly/49EzX9L
Amazon Worldwide: https://mybook.to/OarThanFriends
Apple Books: https://apple.co/43a1rAZ
Nook: https://bit.ly/3IrbJDl
Kobo: https://bit.ly/48NlbM9
Google Play: https://bit.ly/49GxT0h

Audible: https://adbl.co/4alGpCb
Narrated by: Sebastian Humphreys & Ina Marie Smith

    arcs romance sports-romance


61 reviews3 followers

February 3, 2024

I love the boat race, I watch it every year. I also went to Cambridge, so seeing all of this brought to life in a romance was so fun!

This book perfectly encapsulates the chaos of being 19, 20, 21, not knowing what your future will look like and feeling like you have nothing figured out. It can be a turbulent time and I loved reading about how Kate and Oz navigated it.

*I* also felt tired just reading about everything Kate had to balance!

Kate and Oz were so sweet and Oz is an excellent book boyfriend. He loved her so wholly. The pumpkin pie moment was swoon worthy…

Highly recommend this for any college romance book lovers, for a fresh take on the trope at English Universities!

Thank you for the DRC!


1,958 reviews42 followers

January 22, 2024

5 stars

I have to start by saying I know absolutely nothing about rowing, but now I'd love to know more about it!
This was so much fun. It was interesting and entertaining!
I adored both our main characters. Oz was such an amazing guy. I love how caring and supportive he was, not only with our fmc but with everyone he loves.
Kate was incredible, too. The fish out of the water element with her was done fantastically, and I related so much with her. Her struggles... I have to admit i might have teared up a couple of times.
The romance between these two was adorable. Their meet cute was hilarious and perfect! I love how their relationship developed and how there they were for each other!
This book deals with grief, and it was done beautifully, but it also showed different types of grief and how they're all valid.
The family elements... I love how Lulu writes friendships like they're a type of family too because sometimes they are, and a lot of times those are the people we can count on the most. I loved it.
The boys group as per usual. I adored them and can't wait for their books too (Brooks and Will's especially!)
Overall, this was another fantastic read from Lulu, but am I surprised? Absolutely not!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Note: This book makes me wanna move to Oxford and start rowing.


270 reviews129 followers

February 18, 2024

Lmao, it seems I was mistaken about the author being American as some people so nicely pointed out. My bad. Still didn’t enjoy it very much.

Kari Hansen

10.3k reviews85 followers

March 17, 2024

In order to honor someone she loves Kate has decided to attend university at Cambridge and become part of the women’s rowing team even if it is way outside of her comfort zone. When she meets Oz she is drawn to him in a way she didn’t expect however not only does she consider him off limits due to his reputation but the fact that he attends a rival university.

Oz’s life has been planned by his politician father both when it comes to his education and his career. His first meeting with Kate left quite the impression on him and he isn’t about to let anyone, or anything come between them and now he just needs to convince her.

Kate and Oz were exactly what the other needed in their lives from the fun times to the heartfelt moment and to the way they helped each other realize what and who they wanted in their lives both now and in the future.


442 reviews39 followers

March 29, 2024

Rating: ♾️

Spice: open door (not a lot)

🚣🏼‍♀️ Rival universities

🥧 Secret romance

🚣🏼‍♀️ Sports romance - rowing

🥧 American FMC

🚣🏼‍♀️ British MMC

🥧 He falls first

🚣🏼‍♀️ All the swoon

🥧 1st pov/ dual

💜 Arthur "Oz" Osbourne-Cloud!!! + Kate 💜

Have you read Check + Mate by Ali Hazelwood and said man I wish there was a small amount of open door scenes. Well here ya go. Absolutely nothing a like but yet absolutely the same vibes. This was so damn cute and perfect. The level of SWOON I did for Oz. Their texting/FaceTime conversations. THE PIE 🥧!!!! That's all I'm saying because I want you to read that and experience it's greatness.

I also must say I know NOTHING about rowing and I was able to follow along and fall in love 😍.

The side characters 🙌🏼👏🏼 honestly there's about 4-6 at least I would love to get their own book. I will absolutely be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one!

Thank you to valentine pr and Lulu for this ARC!

    academic backwards-hat rivals

Marissa Hux

220 reviews6 followers

March 21, 2024

I have fell in love with sports romance. So when I saw that this one was different than anything else I've seen I was super excited. This is a college romance that takes place away from the states. Kate and Oz are part of rowing teams for two different universities who are rivals. Their meet cute, if we want to call it that lol, had me in stitches laughing.

Kate has lost her brother and is trying to fulfill what she thinks her parents would want while also pursuing what her brother is missing out on. Oz is trying to find his own path away from the tabloids and media surrounding his father who is a politician. Both have weird relationships with their dads. And they're both really just trying to find their way.

I loved seeing how they rival together even though they had reservations because of the conflicting schools. Their friend groups were amazing. And overall I just loved the feel of the atmosphere there. One of my favorite things was getting to me Oz and seeing how he really just scooped Kate up and showed her such a good time especially on her Christmas break when she was not near family.

This really was such a refreshing and great read. I love getting to see an inside view of what rowing entails. I'm so excited to see that it's a series and I can't wait to dive deeper into some of these side characters who have some of the best personalities.

Bryana Napthen

165 reviews4 followers

March 8, 2024

ARC Review - 4.5 ⭐️’s

Kate & Oz have my heart! Their story was so much fun, starting with their hilarious meet cute & ending with the famous Boat Race. I loved the college rivalry, it gave this a little bit of a forbidden aspect and for a moment we got a little taste of enemies to lovers! I know absolutely nothing about rowing but everything was explained so well and by the end I was so anxious and nervous to see who was going to come out on top 👀

Miscommunication is always frustrating but it’s to be expected with college students who are falling in love for the first time, while also trying to figure out who they want to be. They were so supportive of each others dreams and gave each other the push they needed to pursue them.

We also got a glimpse of their relationships with their family and friends which added another fun element - I can’t wait to read about Charlie and Violet next!

Thank you @lulumoorebooks & @valentine_pr_ for the arc 🫶🏼

Read this if you like:
🚣 sports romance
🚣🏼‍♀️ college rivalry
🚣 secret relationship
🚣🏼‍♀️ he’s british, she’s american
🚣 love at first sight
🚣🏼‍♀️ he falls first

Stephanie Hubenak

368 reviews73 followers

March 6, 2024

It's no secret that Lulu is one of my all time favorite people EVER. The way I was so excited to squeeze her last year when I went to RARE...which ultimately was her idea...it was so fun. We discussed this book and then I impatiently waited until I could get my grubby hands on this book.

When I tell you that I LOVED Oz, I mean that he could literally do no wrong! He was the absolute perfect MMC and watching him prove to Kate that he wanted to be with her was nothing short of amazing. Their meet cute was the CUTEST and I had the warm fuzzies from the very beginning!

I also feel like Lulu has perfected writing sports romances. She shares enough so that we are educated on the sport (b/c this was definitely my first Rowing sports romance) without completely diluting the romance part of the story. I learned so much while also falling head over heels for Oz and Kate.

If you love swoony, heart felt romances where you just know that the main characters are meant to be, you will go absolutely feral over this book! I can't wait for book 2!

Oar Than Friends (Oxbridge #1) (2024)
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