Book Talk: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Book Talk: Roomies by Christina LaurenRoomies by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery on December 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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From subway to Broadway to happily ever after. Modern love in all its thrill, hilarity, and uncertainty has never been so compulsively readable as in New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren’s (Beautiful Bastard, Dating You / Hating You) new romance.

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a bigtime musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

By this juncture, I’m pretty familiar with Christina Lauren’s work. You know, just slightly. Considering this was my 11th of their books that I read in the span of a single month. I DO NOT DO THINGS BY HALVES. What is a backlog for if not to read in a passionate, mad dash? Anywaaaaaay, I can state with great authority that Roomies is the fluffiest of all of those. This one’s the most rom com of them all.

Admittedly, there’s a lot about this premise that just screams rom com, so maybe that’s not really fair to all the other books. But, honestly, when in real life would a girl marry the busker she’s had a crush on for months because he happens to be in the states illegally and her uncle happens to be able to hire him for a super successful Broadway show and that’s the only way he can take part? Like, this shit does not happen. I say this with love in my heart because if I wanted to read about real life, I’d go read the news or non-fiction or something.

Romantic comedies are very much a love or hate sort of concept, hinging as they do almost solely on a romantic relationship and a whole lot of serendipity. Some people say they’re predictable, unrealistic, and shallow. Fuck those people, I say. (Except no, it’s fiiiiine. You can dislike joy and cuteness if you want. You do you, mate. You do you.) Wait, what was my point? Oh, right! Roomies is very much all of that stuff. It’s predictable and totally unrealistic and admittedly a wee bit shallow. If you see a rom com cliche coming your way, it will not just trip over it but hurl itself bodily into the trope. That’s okay if it’s your thing (it’s kinda mine), but fair waraning if you’re less of a rom com fan.

I absolutely adore the shit out of the premise. Roomies opens like a gender-swapped While You Were Sleeping almost, with the long-term, conversationless crush, subway setting, and attack leading to a fall onto the tracks. Though this inciting incident felt ever-so-slightly random compared to the tone of the rest, it serves as the catalyst for Holland to actually have the courage to talk to Calvin. Of course she won’t actually do so until she coincidentally spots him playing in a cover band in a bar in New Jersey her best friend Lulu drags her to, buuuuuut.

Sidebar, though, to talk about Lulu, because now that I’ve mentioned her, I need to have some damn words. Lulu is THE WOOOOOOOOOORST.

There are two things that didn’t work for me about this book, and Lulu’s one of them. Now, I know I’m not meant to like Lulu, because she’s a toxic friend. Which, yeah, super toxic. Holland’s been her sidekick basically for years, always available to talk about Lulu or follow her on whatever hair-brained scheme she’s concocted. With Holland’s life suddenly much more interesting, Lulu’s jealous and lowkey vindictive (not like single white female but just being super bitchy and rude and trying to make Holland’s life more difficult).

That’s all absolutely a thing, and there are people who are like that. Ultimately, though, I didn’t feel like it was really handled quite enough or closed out in a satisfactory way. Partially, it comes across as stereotypical girl hate, because, aside from Lulu, Holland’s the only female character of note in the whole book. Not great. Plus, when the book ends, it feels like she’s still in the middle of that emotional plot arc. So mostly it felt like Lulu was there to insert complications into the middle of a pretty straightforward romance.

Speaking of the romance, Holland and Calvin actually worked for me, despite the weird nature of the courtship. It helps, I think, that it takes a while for the relationship to transition from friendship to something physical and romantic. Some of the mistrust and confusion felt less manufactured and more like a logical part of this backwards courtship. Holland and Calvin have a nice dynamic too; aside from the melodramatic tropey fights at the very end, they largely communicate effectively. They push each other to work on their dreams, and they both handle constructive criticism really well. They do seem to fit together in a way that, while not ship of the century, at least gives me some hope for their future.

My favorite parts of this book, though, are absolutely the parts about their passions. Holland’s working in musical theater, thanks to her Uncle Robert (happily married to her Uncle Jeff—and they are the fucking cutest and also an interracial couple and I want the book about them falling in love pls). I wish I knew a bit more about what the hit play they’re working on is actually about, but I enjoyed the passion of the scenes describing the music and singing. Even more than that, the stuff about being an aspiring author terrified of that blank page really speaks to my mental state these days. More than that, I relate to Holland’s constant sense that everyone else has found their thing and her fear that she will never amount to anything like that.

As expected, Roomies was really fun to read. I loved the premise with my whole heart, but I do want to see Lauren start flipping tropes occasionally because they often lose me a bit at the denouement.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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