By Penelope Ward
Genres: New Adult / Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by Dottie
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.
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Dottie’s Star Rating: 5 Stars
Wow! I have always enjoyed Penelope Ward’s work but I’ve got to say, this one has been my favorite thus far! One of my preferred themes in a romance novel is a second-chance story, and after reading the synopsis, I thought that this was probably a book I would like even before I began to read it. But, this book felt like more than that. This book captured my interest immediately and held on tight. I was sad when I was finished reading it because I wasn’t ready to let it go and I wanted more!
Amelia met Justin when she was ten years old and he’d just moved into the house next-door to Amelia’s grandmother, her Nana…
…Now, I could finally see what he looked like. He had shaggy dark blond hair and was apparently trying to teach himself how to play the guitar. I was have stood there at the window for almost an hour watching him strumming the strings. Out of nowhere, a sneeze escaped from me. His head whipped upward toward the window. Our eyes met for a few seconds before I immediately ducked. My heart was pounding because now he knew I’d been watching him. “Hey. Where did you go?” I heard him ask. I stayed crouched down and silent. “Amelia. . .I know you’re there.” He knew my name? “Why are you hiding from me?” Slowly standing up with my back facing the window, I finally answered, “I have a lazy eye.”…Unsure of what came over me, I decided to let him see me. I couldn’t avoid it forever. When I turned around, he flinched. “What happened to your other eye?” “It’s still there.” I pointed to my right eye. “This is just a patch over it…actually, the covered eye is my good one. The doctor says that if I don’t use my good eye, the lazy eye will strengthen and straighten over time.”…”… can you come outside now? Since you don’t have to hide from me anymore?” “No. I don’t want anyone else to see me.” “What are you gonna do when you have to go back to school tomorrow?” “I don’t know.”…Justin didn’t say anything. He just dropped his guitar, stood up and ran over to his house…Five minutes later, he came running back toward his spot in from of Nana’s. When I looked up into my window again, I could hardly believe my eyes. (Well, “eye.”) Covering his own right eye was a gigantic black patch. Justin looked like a pirate…he took a black Sharpie marker out of his pocket. “I’ll color yours in, too. Will you come outside now?” A feeling warmer than I’d ever known filled my heart. Thinking back, that was probably the exact moment Justin Banks became my best friend…
I know, I know, that’s a long excerpt. But it describes their friendship while they were kids and also, who Justin really was to Amelia, so beautifully that it is the perfect introduction to these two – once best friends and now – not!
You see, something happened and their best-friendship (that had lasted up until they were sixteen) fell apart, leaving them both devastated. And now, they are thrown back together when Amelia’s grandmother passes away and leaves her home (which, by the way, is a beach-house that’s been in her family for a long time out on Aquidneck Island) to both of them equally. The problem is, they haven’t seen each other since they were sixteen and there a lot of unresolved feelings and misunderstandings between them. Amelia knows it won’t be easy to see each other again; she broke his heart when she left and she knows he has every right to be angry with her.
And Justin – well, let’s just say when he appears at the beach-house, he’s a bit of an ass. He’s arrogant and sarcastic and insulting – and he brought his girlfriend along. Now, most authors would have made the girlfriend either a nice to your face but a bitch beneath it all or just an all-around bitch that only the guy can stand to be around. But that’s not where Penelope Ward went with this story. Instead, his girlfriend, Jade, is really nice. Yeah, she’s gorgeous (an off-Broadway actress actually), but as much as Amelia wants to dislike her, she finds herself finding a new friend in Jade. I liked this twist from the usual quite a lot. I don’t know that there’s any character I’ve ever liked who is the “other woman” for the main couple, yet I liked this one. She’s friendly. She’s compassionate. She’s just highly likable. And although it goes against girl-code for her to later find happiness with Justin, in this case, it worked. Normally that would make me angry, this time it didn’t.
I felt very sorry for Amelia when Justin, a man who had been her hero through so many childhood and early teen years was really kind of mean to her. She knew she made a mistake way back in the day with him but has no idea how to fix it. And Justin isn’t about ready to forgive her yet. But you know what guys do – they cover up hurt with just being a jerk, and this is exactly what Justin does – at first!
But here’s the thing – I actually really liked Justin too. It was relatively easy to “get” that he’s just hurt by the way Amelia acted and in actions, he’s actually still a really good guy. He’s the same guy who ran to his house for an eye-patch and Sharpie to make Amelia feel better so many years ago. He’s got honor. He’s sweet down beneath the bad behavior. And his heart aches with longing for their friendship to be repaired but isn’t sure he’s ready to let Amelia back into his heart. But when someone is that vitally important to someone else, it’s hard for the heart to forget the love that lives deep down beneath it all. That love that we all feel for the people in our lives that have truly been our deepest, closest friends. And for Justin, it’s still there. He’s just managed to bury it pretty deep…
…”Coming here, I had no idea what to expect. When I laid eyes on you that first day in the kitchen, I quickly realized that all of the feelings hadn’t really gone away at all. I’d just been suppressing them. Seeing you as a grown woman. . .it was jarring. I didn’t know how to handle it.” “Besides being mean.” “At first, I was still so fucking angry at you. I wanted you to be a bitch to me, so that at least the anger would be justified. But instead. . .you were sweet and full of regret. The object of my anger has slowly been shifting from you to myself. . .for wasting all those years in bitterness…
What happens next is interesting and heartwarming and even a little heartbreaking at times. This is a book I would completely recommend to anyone. It kept my interest and I really resented anything that took time away from me reading it. It’s really great when you find a book where you tell yourself as you’re reading it, “I’m loving this book!” But yet, that is what I did with this one, repeatedly!
There was a plot point where I groaned and wondered what on earth Ms. Ward was thinking. But, I stand corrected! I was wrong. This woman knows her craft and she was completely right to throw this twist at her audience! She made it sing for her and I have to say I adored how she pulled it off!
Curious enough yet? This book is so good; you should just read it! It made me laugh, it made my eyes well up with tears, and when I finished it, I was grinning large (well, except for the fact that I was bummed it was over)! Now that, my friends, it a fabulous book!
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About Penelope Ward
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor before switching to a more family-friendly career.
Penelope lives for reading books in the new adult/contemporary romance genre, coffee and hanging out with her friends and family on weekends.
She is the proud mother of a beautiful 11-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 9-year-old boy, both of whom are the lights of her life.
Penelope, her husband and kids reside in Rhode Island.
She is the author of RoomHate, which hit #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list and #1 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list. Her novel, Stepbrother Dearest, also spent four consecutive weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Other works include the New York Times bestseller Cocky Bastard (co-written with Vi Keeland), Sins of Sevin, My Skylar, Jake Undone, Jake Understood and Gemini.