Cover The Roommate: A pink background with hearts and a cartoon woman reading and a man both sitting on a couch

About the Book

Title: The Roommate (The Shameless Series #1)
Published: 2020

First Impressions: Is That You, Melissa?
What’s Your Type?
 Friends to lovers, frank and positive sex talk, smart characters, smart writing, frequent discussions of LA traffic
The Lean:
Sex On The Brain
We Need to Talk:
Smart and Feminist
Was It Good For You? 
I Love You

First Impressions: Is That You, Melissa?

Okay, so the cover artist CLEARLY took actress Melissa George’s likeness as, like, extreme inspiration for Clara, am I right or am I right?? It is literally all I can see. And while the cartoon version of Josh doesn’t ring any resemblances to anyone real, in my mind Josh is the spitting image of a smarter version of Ryan Kwanten’s Jason Stackhouse from True Blood. Also, the pink background and the neon title treatment are all just adorable and it seems like it’s a nod to the author’s note about how she appreciates that her dad was always willing to buy her “pink-covered romance novels”. Adorbs.

What’s Your Type?

  • Friends to lovers
  • Frank and positive sex talk
  • Smart characters
  • Smart writing
  • Frequent discussions of LA traffic

Dating Profile

Clara is an uptight East Coast socialite from a prominent family, where scandal means years of shame and atonement or, worse, banishment from the family name. Armed with her doctorate degree in art history and a sense that she has barely lived any kind of life worth living, she does her first impulsive thing ever and hops on a plane to LAX, (with a dream in her heart…ahem) to spend the summer with her childhood friend and unrequited love, Everett.

Josh was an aimless twenty-four year old with no drive when he was scouted by porn conglomerate Black Hat. In the last few years, he’s become very popular with female viewers for his endearing charm; on-again, off-again relationship with popular and brash co-star Nikki; and, his, ah, enthusiastic zeal to elicit female pleasure. After another “off period” in which Nikki kicks him out of their apartment, Josh rents a random room for the summer as he contemplates the next steps in his career.

Meet Cute

Clara’s “go get ‘em, girl!” daydream of a summer in LA where she systematically makes Everett fall in love with her bursts before the drive back to Everett’s place is even over. He tells her he’s leaving all summer to go on a last-minute tour with his band, and that he’s rented out one of his bedrooms to a stranger on Craigslist, but she can, like, totally have the other room no problem. Clara and Josh have never met anyone else quite like each other—and that’s even before Clara finds out what Josh does for a living. But there are lines you probably shouldn’t cross, and of course a rich socialite like Clara would never go for a lowly porn star, just like a person who has sex for a living would never be interested in a frigid East Coaster who’s never had an orgasm with another person. And you certainly don’t fall in love with your temporary roommate…

The Lean: Sex On The Brain

Clara and Josh are warm for each other’s forms pretty quickly, especially as Josh always has sex on the brain and Clara is sex-starved, but Danan crafts plenty of reasons to keep them close but not TOO close to give me the unresolved sexual tension I desire. Even once the, ah, tension is abated, there’s still lots of completely reasonable emotional blockades for the two to sort out before any HEA could happen. Josh and Clara also just have great banter and camaraderie in every scene together, so I didn’t mind watching them dance around one another.

Dirty Talk

For those of a certain age, remember how scandalous Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” was way back when? Now we’ve got random teenagers making up explicit sexy dances to “WAP” for the entire world to see. Someone get me my walker. On a scale of “Dirrty” to “WAP” this book will surprisingly fall in kinda in the middle?

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

While explicit, Danan’s sexy moments are refreshingly not overwrought, nor overly purple. When I looked back at my Kindle “notebook” though, I’d actually highlighted more that, surprisingly, wasn’t sexy-related, as I apparently enjoyed her life insights and little moments of observational humor:

“What’s the big deal? There’s no non-asshole way to say this, but I get about fifty women a week asking me to do this. It’ll be totally clinical, Scout’s honor.” He saluted her with three fingers.
“Yeah. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this conversation is not sanctioned by the Boy Scouts of America.” She couldn’t  help imagining the havoc he could wreak with that hand.

Josh didn’t waver in his convictions. “If I can’t get you off with my hands,” he said, his voice soft and incredibly kind, “that’s my problem. Not yours. And if that’s the case, we’ll figure something else out. Every body is different, but none of them are wrong.”

Unfortunately, like grain alcohol, unrequited love grows more potent with time.

“Change always comes with a closing cost,” Naomi said. “But it’s still worth trying. Not because the odds are particularly good, mind you, but considering the alternative. There’s value in the struggle. Value in touching the raw and bloody parts of our souls, opening them up to the sunlight, and hoping they heal.”

We Need To Talk: Smart and Feminist

There is so much to unpack here! Danan has crafted an unabashed, sex-positive story that feels both refreshing and also comfortably familiar. You’ve got some tried-and-true rom-com beats (a bit of a outlandish premise, yearning for “reasons”, a public apology) but it’s wrapped up in a thoroughly modern and feminist package. There’s critical thought and political discussion on the porn industry—its positives and negatives—and the stigma surrounding people like Josh and his costar Naomi (who, bonus because I loved her, will star in her own book, out next April!). Clara goes on a sexual journey that many young women will be able to relate to, and she’s never shamed for wanting to learn how to enjoy herself in whatever form that means. Even Josh isn’t without his own self-image struggles, which further helped to craft him into such a wonderfully three-dimensional character.

Was It Good For You? I Love You

Look, even if I had been on the fence until this point, in chapter thirteen Clara and Josh have a movie night and Clara tells him they’re watching her favorite action movie, Speed. Josh clarifies, “You mean you love Keanu Reeves?” and calls it the “poor man’s Die Hard” (uh, so wrong!). But Clara shuts him down about how it’s not ONLY about Keanu Reeves, but that “Speed is an action movie for the female gaze. Do you know how you can tell? The heroine has got on sensible shoes.”

Rosie—I mean, Clara, I completely agree!! Clara even refuses to acknowledge there’s a Speed sequel, and I do that all the time with another Keanu classic, The Matrix. (Who would be silly enough to mess with a perfectly good movie by adding 2 far inferior sequels? Not the Wachowski siblings, surely!) Throw in a throwaway line later in the novel where Josh mentions that one time Clara tried to convince him The Mummy is a love story (uh, doy!), and clearly Rosie Danan and I are pop culture soulmates who have excellent taste in movies and books. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Berkley Publishing. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Roommate is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.