ARC review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

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Theatre archivist Holland Bakker has crushed on subway musician Calvin McLoughlin for months.  One night, after a few cups of liquid courage, Holland approaches Calvin to confess her undying love… for his music.  When a subway attack leaves her unconscious on the rails, Calvin steps in to contact the MTA and the police, but he doesn’t stick around for small talk.

Determined to pay him back, Holland lands Calvin the Broadway audition of his life with her Uncle Robert, a famous director.  Robert is blown away and immediately wants to hire Calvin for his musical’s orchestra, but Calvin reveals that he’s in the country illegally on an expired student visa.  When Holland proposes marriage, the arrangement is just crazy enough that it might actually work.

There are a lot of romance tropes that I like, friends-to-lovers and fake relationships being somewhere near the top of the list.  There are also a lot of romance tropes that I’m iffy about, and a marriage of convenience is one of them.  That said, I thought that Roomies was an adorable and (quite nearly) perfect romance about two people who are thrown together and have to work to make it work.

So often in the romance genre, the heroine takes a backseat to the hero.  And while, yes, Calvin was certainly something else (and I wouldn’t mind picking up my own Calvin on my next subway ride), Holland was a breath of fresh air.  She’s neither a doormat nor a brat.  She knows that she wants to make her own way in the world, but she doesn’t know how to start.  She’s head-over-heels in lust with Calvin, but she marries him solely to give him the opportunity to realize his dream.

This plot could have gone in a lot of less-satisfying directions, but this author duo did a great job of making it feel realistic while still keeping it entertaining.  I saw the first big conflict coming and it didn’t bother me.  The second big conflict, though, seemed like a lot of drama for no real reason and felt a bit out of character.  BUT, that’s the only real criticism I have of this entire book.  Overall, it was cute, it was funny, it was swoony, and it was hard to put down.  This was my first Christina Lauren book, but it won’t be my last.

Final rating: 4.5 stars, rounded up to ★★★★★

I received a free copy of Roomies from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.