BIRTHDAY GIRL by Penelope Douglas

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go. He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work. 

I have to stop this. It can’t happen. 

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable. Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one. 
I am. 

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping. As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to. 

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight. 

And her boyfriend’s father. 

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.


Title : Birthday Girl
Author : Penelope Douglas
Format : eBook
Page Count : 407
Genre : romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : April 17, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I suppose this one is on me because I’m not really sure what else I expected when I picked up BIRTHDAY GIRL.

If what you want is a slowburn romance that leans into the taboo of not only an age gap but also the “wanting my boyfriend’s dad/wanting my son’s girlfriend” angle, I’m sure you could probably do much worse than this. However..

I’m not sure the characterizations were all that consistent. With maybe the one exception, surprisingly enough, being the nineteen year old protagonist. She was mature for her age, she was pretty focused, she was weathered by disappointment and experience (not the good kind) which gave her perspective and some gravitas. But she also had moments of being impulsive and.. maybe bratty is harsh but young. And it felt true to form. The thirty-nine year old older man, however? Way less consistent. And also didn’t remotely feel his age. But maybe that was purposeful to like.. make him more accessible and lend him that air of being younger than he seemed? Take the edge off both sides of the equation by mentally aging her up and then also mentally making him a little.. not young but. I don’t know how to explain it. And lastly, to round out the main trio (even though we didn’t get his POV), there was the boyfriend. A pretty inconsiderate person all around, his behaviour worse considering how he was treating not just someone who was supposed to be a friend first but also the person you love, and the abrupt pivot at the end with the magical fix? Eye roll. So, really, I only liked Jordan and basically thought both men unworthy of her.

Additionally, this story has a bunch of outside drama, too, incase the (actually relatively low, considering..) angst from the above wasn’t enough for you. We have evil exes (one also violent because why not), on both sides of the relationship, and all the drama that comes from a small town with nosy neighbours and the down on their luck or straight up trashy residents. Which I guess explains why so many people have excuses for their bad behaviour? I don’t know.

I guess overall I just expected something more? In the sense that this didn’t feel as edgy or taboo as I expected. It felt rather standard as far as romances go, just with an age gap. But as much as I wanted more, I also maybe wanted a little less. This felt a bit long.

So, yeah, not remotely a homerun for my first time reading Douglas but both this and PUNK 57 come recommended by so many people. So I’ll still be giving that a try before assuming we’re not a good fit.

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