This book served as a harsh reminder that I've aged out of new adult romance and probably shouldn't read it anymore.
Plot overview: Reese finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, so she dumps him and her brother allows her to move in with him and his roommates. His only rule, the only thing he asks in return for his kindness, is that she keeps her hands off his roommates and that they do the same. Reese immediately does the opposite of what she's supposed to do and falls for his roommate River. Angst ensues.
Tropes: forbidden romance, roommates-to-lovers, brother's best friend romance
So, here's the thing I learned about new adult romance long ago--it's not for me. I'm too old for it. I'm grumpy and short-tempered and when book characters do dumb shit for no good reason, I get annoyed. When characters fail to talk about their issues like grown-ups, I get annoyed. And new adult romance is ALL ABOUT characters doing dumb shit and not talking about their problems. I mean, I get it. They're dumb kids, so they do dumb stuff. Knowing that doesn't make me any less annoyed when it happens, though. So, I normally avoid new adult romance. I didn't avoid this one because I saw the author talking about her books on TikTok and she's so charming and she made the books sound so charming that I dove right in.
Here's the stuff I found that made me remember why I'm too old for new adult romance, no matter how talented and charming the author is:
1. Reese the heroine INSISTS that she's plain and average looking, yet everyone with a penis in the book is in love with her. (I call this Bella Swan syndrome. But that's another story entirely.) Her brother has 3 hot roommates, and 1 is the hero who loves the heroine, 1 is a hot bartender who flirts with Reese and wanted her until her brother threatened to rearrange his face if he touched his sister, and the other is also literally in love with her. There's a whole thing at the end where there's one hot guy who loves Reese getting in the face of the other hot guy who loves Reese and accusing him of loving her for...no good reason whatsoever. The entire subplot could've been cut and the book would've been better for it. The ex boyfriend is also obsessed with her and stalks her, and pretty much every random dude in the bar wants her, too. But she's so, so plain, y'all! She just has no idea why any of these hot guys would want little ole her.
2. River, the hero. Here's a guy who is banging a random woman when he meets Reese, then continues to bang random women for many, many chapters. Come to find out later that, of course, he was only banging women to forget about Reese, the golden girl. I get the feeling I'm supposed to think this is romantic, and maybe I would've when I was 20. But now all I can think when I read about River is that he's a syphillus-ridden manwhore who has no problem ruthlessly using women to forget about all the feelings he's too weak to express. In short, I hate him and there's no amount of taut, tanned abs that can make me not want to nut-punch him. But strangely enough, I still think he's perfect for Reese, because I hate her, too. They're both emotionally stunted, insecure wrecks who deserve each other.
3. This book is over 400 pages long. There's literally nothing keeping this couple apart except for their inability to talk to each other like grown-ups and the brother's request that they stay away from each other. If they'd talked about their feelings and discussed the situation with the brother, this could've been a 100 page book.
4. There's SO MUCH DRAMA that feels entirely unnecessary. The stalker ex, all the different people who are in love with Reese, River's crazy mom, a disfiguring car accident, Reese stumbling into an acting career and a modeling gig...sweet merciful crap there's a lot going on in this book. And the worst part is that over half of it felt like filler to make the book longer for no good reason.
So, long-story-short, if you want to read a self-insert where you can imagine yourself as "not like other girls" chick with a golden vagina that makes men fall instantly in love with you, this is a great read. If not, skip it. Save yourself, because it's too late for me.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It's not stigma-y. It's just not my cuppa.