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Roomies by Christina Lauren

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A love-drunk heart, from what is sure to be an infamous guide on how not to date—told by Christina Lauren’s quirkiest literary couple yet (ahem, Josh and Hazel)—spurred my instantaneous reach for Roomies. Eager to stoke those gushy, giggly, infatuated-girl feelings.

I think it’s important to acknowledge—no two meet cutes are ever the same—each relationship has its own distinct opening and underlying beat, much like a piece of music. For some couples, it begins in college with a proposition and a ruined pair of shoes, taking ten years for their notes to harmonize. For others, the intro is slow to build momentum and heard from a distance—a heart captured by the passion driving another.

For Holland and Calvin’s start, it’s the latter. A chance listening session—Calvin playing his guitar in the subway tunnel—leads to months of unnecessary train rides for Holland and a crush teeny tiny obsession. Holland’s first obstacle, finding a way to initiate a conversation. How else is she going to find out his actual name or the color of those Irish eyes?

A little liquid courage and an expired student visa, coupled with Holland nudging her uncle to fill the opening in his Broadway musical with Calvin’s guitar work, leads to a proposition: a vow exchange. Say what? Sure, Calvin is easy on the eyes and extremely talented—did I mention the Irish accent?—but volunteering to marry a complete stranger . . . gutsy. The newlyweds, cohabiting as roomies for appearance sake, are both getting something out of the impulsive nuptials, right?

The way Holland sees things, this is her chance to pay her uncles back for all the support they’ve given her as she bides time, waiting for that spark of inspiration to bite; for her dream of writing a novel to be realized. If only she could find the moxie to start putting words on paper. My truth: I saw a glimpse of myself in Holland. Wanting so bad to write, but instead floating through life waiting for that perfect idea to sneak up and tap me on the shoulder. Guess I should follow the same advice I wanted to give Holls—wake up and go for it!

Not telling both sides of the story—his and her views in rivaling chapters—is quite the departure for Christina Lauren. While it’s easy to see Calvin catches feelings for Holland, that she’s not floating alone in her desire for more, it’s not clear why. What is it about her that draws him in—is it more than just love blossoming from gratitude? Both the storyline and the reader would have benefitted immensely from getting a look in that musically gifted head of his. Unsure of the emotions driving Calvin’s actions, I found myself in the same boat as Holland, left to wallow in a sea of uncertainties. Despite everything, I can’t say Calvin ever gave me a reason to doubt his character or his motives. Great guy—check.

“Come home and kick me in the teeth if you need to, but then kiss me.”

The serendipitous nature of Holland and Calvin’s relationship kept me turning those pages—would the roomies settle in to their actual titles: husband and wife? Theirs is a love story riddled with flirty banter and underscored by a massively important message: don’t let fear or doubt hold you back from chasing your heart’s desires, feed that passion and let it thrive.

I know how those notes sound when they’re coming from across the room, from across the bed. I know how they sound hummed contentedly into my ear with the warm curl of his body all along my back.

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