Genres: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Musicians, New Adult
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From New York Times Bestselling Author, Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone novel.
Sharing a summer house with a hot-as-hell roommate should be a dream come true, right?
Not when it’s Justin…the only person I’d ever loved…who now hates me.
When my grandmother died and left me half of the house on Aquidneck Island, there was a catch: the other half would go to the boy she helped raise.
The same boy who turned into the teenager whose heart I broke years ago.
The same teenager who’s now a man with a hard body and a hardass personality to match.
I hadn’t seen him in years, and now we’re living together because neither one of us is willing to give up the house.
The worst part? He didn’t come alone.
I’d soon realize there’s a thin line between love and hate. I could see through that smug smile. Beneath it all…the boy is still there. So is our connection.
The problem is…now that I can’t have Justin, I’ve never wanted him more.
Author's note – RoomHate is a full-length standalone novel. Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
This review will probably sound rant-like to some people but I would like to preface this by stating that this is not my intent. I have been looking forward to this book release for weeks. The synopsis sounded right up my alley, and I was absolutely thrilled to wake up this morning and start reading. It started out so strong but as I got future and further in, I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be. I was fully expecting this book to be a new 5 Star read, but in my case it simply was not. Different people will respond to stories in different ways, and this one seems to have made me quite passionate, but not in the way that I’d be singing its praises. It’s baffling to me, and frustrating, and I just can’t wrap my head around the entire situation. It’s messy and engulfing and honestly a little mind boggling. I don’t understand how my reaction could’ve possibly been so different from many others that seemed to love it, but I digress. I give you, RoomHate:
It’s not going to be a secret. I loved every second of Part One in RoomHate. There was angst, there were unresolved feelings, there was so much tension I thought anyone in the room with them might just explode. Justin was angry, Amelia was hurt; it was fantastic to read about these two coming to terms with what happened and finding their way back to each other. Amelia put in such an effort to get through to Justin, to bridge the gap from their past and he wouldn’t have any part in it. The hurt and despair were palpable. They became two different people based on the outcome of past events but still were so connected to each other. Once they finally could find their way back, I loved the uncertainty of the relationship. Not everything will be sunshine and roses while trying to regain a lost friend; it felt genuine. Figuring all of this out while becoming close again and ignoring their attraction to each other made the uncertainty of their future that much more emotional. The characters struggled with where they were at and where each wanted to be, and Part One ends off with having to figure this all out.
I don’t have any hard limits while reading. I know a lot of people are turned off by cheating, so I’m glad to report that neither of the main characters cheat on or with the other. There is temptation, there is desire, but thankfully they’re both smart enough to keep it in their pants while one member is in a committed relationship.
There were a few major twists in RoomHate, and while I don’t have hard limits, I have two plot twists that grind my gears like no other. In the interest of being spoiler free, I won’t admit them; but man oh man did I get mad at the one that was contained here. The first twist was the absolute worst for me. I was angry, I didn’t care to read about the rest of Amelia and Justin’s story – that’s how much this bothers me. But then I thought ‘Okay, let’s calm down for a second. I’ve loved everything up until this point, Penelope will probably just spin it and everything will be fine’. Oh sure the story was spun alright, but everything just because messier and more muddled. Yet still I held onto hope. ‘It’ll get better’, I said. ‘This issue won’t bother me’, I said. I was wrong on both accounts.
The middle of this book is where Penelope completely lost me. Our hero was a completely different person than he was in the first part. I get that people grow and adapt but he must have had some major epiphanies or done some serious soul searching in that time. I loved Amelia in the first position of the book, but in the middle I had less and less patience for her as time went on. She was the problem, making a mess out of everything. I was so aggravated, poor Beatriz was receiving constant messages with my every thought. I could understand dealing with Twist #1 and coming out of that being a different person. I get that! But then Justin is there for her and is so excellent at dealing with the situation, but she just constantly has to push. I swear there would’ve been a lot less drama if it wasn’t for Amelia’s insecurities. The story could have gone in a completely different direction, which at this point I would’ve preferred.
Amelia started out quite strong and I enjoyed how her character was portrayed. She was the main reason the reconciliation even took place as she was pushing to try and make amends. My biggest problems with Amelia’s character was during the late middle and ending of the story. She became incessantly whiny and annoying. She complained, she wanted more but would never ask; always making assumptions. Her insecurities got beyond the point of annoying – Justin always proved himself to be trustworthy and truthful, time and time again but she just wouldn’t take it. Every single decision or thing he said had to be dissected. When she was finally comfortable with their relationship, one comment from a neighbour or one ill timed thought and the cycle would repeat, which Justin would having to console and convince her. Again. Reading about this for an extended period of time became so grating on my nerves, I don’t even have a good reason as to why I put up with it and didn’t start skimming. I was also peeved to see that on multiple occasions, she either listened into Justin’s conversations or went through his phone. Clearly she wasn’t trusting him! Considering how great he was being for her, I can’t figure this all out, it hurts my head too much. Thank goodness in the last few chapters, we start to see the mature Amelia again as we raced towards the conclusion. I wanted to start knocking and say ‘Hello! Where’ve you been?’.
I’ve got to give Justin credit. He was swoony as hell, especially in the beginning. Then the middle of the book he practically made my ovaries explode, but I feel like that’s sort of a common occurrence with this type of character and his actions. He dealt with every issue promptly. He never hid anything and you could always feel his want, turmoil and anguish. As mentioned before there was a jump in his character development that we didn’t get to witness, so this obviously I’m going to question but just have to accept that I won’t receive answers. I didn’t really understand some of his actions or how his mind set changed and that’s part of what made the middle section so confusing for me. There was one point where I couldn’t even figure out what emotion I was feeling. There was one monumental scene near the end (Twist 3 by this point I do believe) where I both applauded and was unimpressed with how he dealt with a particular situation. Thankfully after this he seemed to pull his head out of his ass a little and I could sort of find my way back to where he was. He was an excellent hero for Amelia, but I didn’t have any residual warm fuzzies for him. I didn’t love him, he was just there; being a part of the story. However the things he said or did like this, yup, that was pretty great.
“There is no music without you. Music is an expression of all of those things you live for…a reflection of the passion within your soul. I live for you. You’re my passion. You’re my music.”
The contrast in writing style was a little odd for me to comprehend. At times it was absolutely wonderful. There was depth and emotion within the character’s exchanges and it’s everything I want within a dialogue. Then there were times where the writing structure was so simple and basic, I couldn’t wrap my head around the drastic change. When I was given the connection, it was fantastic and we had moments to revel in! When I didn’t get that, I was desperately craving it.
“The barcode represents your birth and the beginning and end of our relationship.”
“Yeah. Defining moments of my life.”
“It represented letting you go once and for all.”
At least with everything else I couldn’t wrap my head around, this book did have some steamy times. Those were well done, the perfect amount of detail without feeling overboard. I think the cover and look in the model’s eyes helps show some of the want and need behind our characters.
I truly believe a big part of my conflicting feelings is that I think this story should have been two separate books. I was not impressed with how it was all together and felt like the author couldn’t decide between plots so she crammed it all into one book. This was what had it become messy in the first place. This is what causes most, if not all of the problems. Twists #1 and 3 could all be in one book easily. Twist #2 needs to go find a new story to live in. Seriously, it was way too much. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I wanted this story to follow the synopsis. That’s what I was interested in. That’s the part I really enjoyed; but when we started veering off course and into major weird unnecessary drama land, I was not impressed.
I get that every reader can interpret a story differently, and come away with different feelings of it. But as I look at my friends list on Goodreads and see 5 Star after 5 Star reviews, I can’t help but think maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the problem here and this book just isn’t the type for me. I’m in no way saying it was bad, if I was I would be rating lower than 3 stars. Based on the love I had for the beginning, and glimpses of hope I had, this is what I ended up on for a rating. If this is your type of story, awesome! By all means buy it and enjoy. I guess in this case, it just did not mesh well with me and my opinions and experiences.
After all of this, a lot of people are going to read this book and completely agree with my above paragraph. ‘Yes Shannon, you’re the problem. This book is great!’. That’s excellent and I’m glad you could enjoy it. I have a feeling my opinion will be vastly in the minority here, but I’m being completely honest with the feelings I had while reading. That was part of the point that had been agreed upon when we decided to start this blog, and that is the value I’m sticking with; honesty.