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THE ROOMMATE by Rosie Danan

House Rules:
Do your own dishes
Knock before entering the bathroom
Never look up your roommate online

The Wheatons are infamous among the east coast elite for their lack of impulse control, except for their daughter Clara. She’s the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But every Wheaton has their weakness. When Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too much to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true.

After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive—not to mention handsome—for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…

Once she learns how Josh has made a name for himself, Clara realizes living with him might make her the Wheaton’s most scandalous story yet. His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.

Title : The Roommate
Author : Rosie Danan
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 330
Genre : romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I am conflicted. I am also sorry because this review is likely to be unnecessarily long.

This story features a male lead in the entertainment industry (as he puts it) and while there’s a certain element of the taboo and stigma around all that, the emphasis within the story is more about entertainers, and those working in the business, taking their agency back — instead of being coerced into pushing their own limits for the sake of job security and for the benefit of Big Corporate Porn — and risking their careers to champion something they believe in. The downside is this does, in hinsight, feel a little.. I don’t want to say shortsighted but maybe simplistic? The scope is very immediate, involving what amounts to mostly just the characters’ immediate circle as opposed to wide spread impact, and with one man at the head of Big Corporate who is made to be the villain of the piece, but I think the idea is that this is the kicking off point and we can hope it does become broader in scope, with greater reform and changes, to come. There’s a background element that seems to imply that could be the case but it’s hard to tell, really. And ultimately as much as that adds to the feel-goodness of the story, the little guy taking on The Man, I think it also ends up tripping itself up. Maybe just don’t look too hard at it. Maybe take a sideways, out of the corner of your eye, view so you don’t lose yourself in the inconsistencies of it all. Or some of the hypocrisy. But ultimately all this is not really the point, is it? This is supposed to be a romance after all.

And speaking of. The chemistry between our leads? It felt pretty solid. Or rather, the sex scenes convinced me they were pretty into each other. What helped to sell it, at least for me, was (at least after their initial meeting), a lot of their interactions as they fight their attraction does feel grounded in genuine interest that transitions into affection.. at least from Josh’s point of view. Why was he into her? Hell if I know. But I could believe he both wanted to sleep with her and also hang out with her. When it came to Clara? I believed she wanted to sleep with him. Did I believe it was more than that? Unclear. Either way, Josh is definitely something of a cinnamon roll, though a horny one at that, and he has multiple white knight moments during various interactions with Clara. The problem for me was.. well, surprising no one who has read this far, I don’t think I liked Clara?

Let’s be real. This whole concept (and many others!) begs the ability to suspend your disbelief. It’s fiction. We know we have to put blinders on occasionally. But so much of what Clara was made up of.. didn’t make sense? I really didn’t “get” a sense of the socialite thing, the wealthy family (don’t even get me started on how her trust fund comes into play..) with all this clout and influence, the risk of being dragged in the society pages and whatnot.. none of it felt real. It felt like something I was being told. I didn’t buy it. The whole family curse thing? Also strange and not believable. Nothing about her backstory had any tangible weight except the reunion with her estranged aunt and even that felt tenuous because what I thought would be a strong element just kind of petered away as the story went on. The only part I truly felt? Was her despair at moving across the country for a boy she’d been in love with her whole life who then up and left her hanging out to dry. I felt that. Everything else? White noise.

What probably didn’t help matters was that, explicit content and occupation aside, these characters felt a little.. YA? NA? Certainly not adults pushing thirty. It had too much of a younger person vibe. I’d be curious to know if anyone else felt the same.

That said, Josh and Naomi, his ex? They were much stronger (also ten points for no evil ex plotline!), or at least they felt that way because I liked them more (also I think Danan’s next book might feature Naomi? I would be into that). Their endeavour (even though it was Clara’s idea)? Great. Josh’s adorable puppy fumbling over his feelings for Clara? So real. Which made it hard to dislike Clara because we had time in his head and saw her through his eyes. But it felt very unbalanced. Clara’s various real world stumbles did feel genuine, she did occasionally act like a fish out of water, but often it was halfhearted. Her fear with driving though and the very real reason for it? That was well done. Less so? The grand gesture. That was so.. cringe? Awkward? Unrealistic? I mean, most grand gestures are out of place and unlikely. And this one is no exception.

So I’m left with a hodge podge of being all over the place for a story that probably shouldn’t be occupying so much space in my brain; at least not in the sense that I spend so much time picking it apart when it’s only really supposed to be a swoony, fun, sexy time that just happens to have an underdog cause to champion and feel good about. And yet here we are.

2 thoughts on “THE ROOMMATE by Rosie Danan”

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