In a weird turn of events, this is the second week in a row that I’m reviewing a Christina Lauren novel, but this is the book I actually read first, so this is my first experience with their writing. (Yes, I say their because I didn’t realize it was a duo penning these stories.) Though I hadn’t heard anyone specifically recommend Roomies to me, I have been hearing about Christina Lauren for months now, whenever anyone in my book club was requesting a light, fun read, so I was expecting just that—and I wasn’t disappointed.
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 big-time 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?
This story was funny, heartwarming and a little predictable, but that’s to be expected with this kind of book. Calvin is a super-charming leading man, and Holland seems believable and less neurotic than a lot of the protagonists of these lighter stories. She’s a bit of a stalker, sure, but she never really had any concrete plan to actually meet or pursue Calvin until it was mentioned by a third party, so I don’t see any harm in her initial intentions.
The plot, though far-fetched in that very, very few people actually have uncles who are the creators of famous Broadway musicals, progresses at a believable pace, and the one of the hurdles that the couple must overcome I actually didn’t see coming. I do wish there was a more substantial career path for Holland at the end of the story—it would have been nice if she could marry her passion for writing with her ear for music—but I suppose this was supposed to be about more than just her.
One of the parts I loved most about Roomies is that as the plot progresses, Holland comes into her own and recognizes that she’s outgrown one of her best friends, which is something I really enjoyed reading, since I feel that books often portray friendships as these lifelong-since-birth-until-death relationships that just don’t happen in real life (at least in my experience) as often as they seem to in fiction.
I definitely recommend Roomies to anyone who likes a good, light read, has a passion for theatre/Broadway, or if they just want to read about a meet-cute for the history books.
“It’s not until he’s said those words that I understand what really draws me to this. It’s unlike anything I would ever do. I am shit at taking risks; I’m bored to hell with my life already, and I’m only twenty-five. Maybe the reason I can’t write about fictional life is because I haven’t actually lived.” —Christina Lauren, Roomies
Thank you to Jefferson Santos on Unsplash for the featured photo of the guitarist.