Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars
Once I read the blurb for this contemporary romance title, I was immediately into the idea of a story of an uptight upper east sider inadvertently becoming roommates with a laid back, Californian porn star; think of the sitcom-like humor you’d get when two people who are two total opposites are forced to live under one roof! You can’t write this stuff…. oh wait.
While reading, this book was definitely a fun debut that I had a fun time reading; I liked both main characters more and more as the story developed, and really saw them grow throughout, especially the female main character: Clara Wheaton. She really learned to let a lot of things go and to not put so much on her shoulders, especially things that she couldn’t control. She definitely had a lot more growth than the other main character and her love interest: Josh Darling (porn name). It’s not that he didn’t have some growth of his own, but it felt like it didn’t really come until much later in the story and the rest of it was all about him trying to figure out his attraction to her in the first place while also figuring out his tricky job situation.
The sitcom-like setup was a definite part of the whole book that I liked; the more the two characters interacted and flirted, bantered, and had hot little scenes between the two of them, I truly did believe the growing chemistry more and more. I really thought they were cute together! I was also a huge fan of how one of the themes of this book was about being so sex positive, and how the author totally flipped what may seem like pretty cliché side characters. I go into more details about these further down in my review!
Some things I wasn’t a big fan of was how this story is set up just like any other rom com kind of story that you’ve probably read before. Not that this made me dislike the book in a big way, but part of me does wish more romance titles tried to veer away from the stereotypical setup we see in literally every book that falls within the genre and be more original. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of how the book ended…I mean, it was fine and all but it could’ve been a whole lot better too. Once again, I go into more detail about these further along in this review.
What It’s About:
The Official Blurb:
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.
What I Liked:
- Opposites Attract! It’s a sitcom-y rom com with two totally opposite people forced under one roof together! Clara is the uptight, proper, and kinda prudish Upper East Side WASP who’s never done something like moving across the country before, and Josh is the charismatic, charming, and brow raising porn star who Clara inadvertently becomes roommates with in a small house in LA. You can’t write this kind of stuff! Oh wait……….Anyways, despite coming from different backgrounds, these two were a joy to read about, and their relationship was so enjoyable to see develop as they go from just roommates, to friends, and to lovers. There was definitely some chemistry there I thought, and the buildup of sexual tension was also fun. It was obvious that Josh’s feelings for her were way stronger than hers off the bat, and I love stories where the guy gets smitten first, but they were both feeling the urge as they lived in such a small space together for a hot LA summer.
- Sex Positivity! This book sheds some light on sex workers and the topic of sex in general. I’m never one to slut shame anyone or judge someone as “beneath me” because they work in adult entertainment, and I like that one of the themes of this book is that there’s not “one pleasure to fit them all,” That couples need to be willing to open up to another, trust each other, listen to each other, and be willing to try new things that work specifically for them. It’s also a good message that no one should feel ashamed about pursuing their own pleasure out of something because of societal expectations and judgements; it sounds a little hedonistic, but there is some valuable life lessons that I think everyone should consider! So long as you’re not hurting yourself or others, I say go for whatever your heart desires.
- Trope Flipping! One small thing I really enjoyed was how the author totally flipped two types of characters we’ve seen so many times before: the boy next door and the ex. Clara has had a crush on Garrett Bloom ever since he moved next door way back when they were kids, but as you meet him and learn more about him, he’s not really as much of a golden boy as the role usually has been in the past. Then there’s Naomi Grant, who’s Josh’s ex, but instead of being a woman scorned, she actually becomes friends with Josh and Clara and even works together with them on a business venture. It was refreshing to see these tropey character arcs get a new direction given to each of them.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The Same Old Setup…I suppose this is a minor thing, but the storyline is set up like any other rom com storyline, so there’s nothing new there with how it develops. There’s nothing too original about it in this sense, but then again, it’s not like most readers are really looking for something like that in this genre to begin with.
- Once Again, A Rushed Ending…I don’t know what it is about romance novels, but lately almost every single one of them feels so cramped and shoved together when it could’ve totally benefited to include another 25-50 pages, or maybe another chapter or two. It’s become a consistent thing with romance novels, and man oh man do I wish it’d stop!
Overall, another pretty good contemporary romance to enjoy for anyone who’s looking for something cute and lighthearted to read! It’s nothing groundbreaking or extraordinary, but it definitely fulfills the expectations you have upon starting reading it. Sure, you’d think it’d be a little steamier since the male character is a porn star—and a pretty good one at that—but there’s other books out there if you’re looking for a much steamier read. Some readers would even go as far to say this book would be so much better if it went further in either the humor or the steam. I can believe that and support that, but I still say this book is an enjoyable addition to the genre. I know I really liked this story, and it’s a keeper on my shelf for sure!
I definitely recommend this title to those who love the rom com stories with familiar tropes that are given new and thoughtful changes to them to switch things up and make them feel fresh. I’d also say fans of books by authors like Christina Lauren, Elle Kennedy, and Sarina Bowen will probably also like this book.
It’s a pretty impressive debut novel, and if this is where the author is starting at, I’d say I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for whatever she comes up with next, she has another title already hyped to release in 2021, The Intimacy Experiment, which will star one of the side characters of this book, so I will for sure check it out upon its release!
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell