Cover of Under One Roof, featuring an illustrated grumpy white man and woman sitting in front of a bunch of pillows

About the Book

Title: Under One Roof (The STEMinist Novellas #1)
Published: 2022

First Impressions: Merida AU
What’s Your Type? Enemies to Lovers, Opposites Attract, They Were Roommates, Career Rivals, Meddling From Beyond the Grave, Short Girl/Tall Guy
Meet Cute: Only One House
The Lean: They Had a Moment
Dirty Talk: In Her Head
We Need to Talk: Quickie
Was it Good For You? Short But Sweet

First Impressions: Merida AU

I know not all red- and curly-haired young women are Merida, but I’m nothing if not influenced by Disney’s various forms of media. And so, this 100% looks like the cover of a Merida fanfiction in which she’s gone to college and meets a handsome, yet aggravating, guy at a party who turns out to be the TA of her most important class. She (thinks that she) needs to win him over to get a good grade; he’s been attracted to her since he first saw her stumble into the 8 a.m. class with two different socks sticking out from under too-short sweatpants, but he can’t act on his feelings because of his position and also because he’s pretty sure she hates him.

What’s Your Type?

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Opposites Attract
  • They Were Roommates
  • Career Rivals
  • Meddling From Beyond the Grave
  • Short Girl/Tall Guy

Dating Profile

Mara Floyd has just graduated with a doctorate in environmental engineering and and accepted a dream job at the Environmental Protection Agency. She’s a spitfire who needs an occasional confidence boost, stubborn to a fault, but really caring when it counts.

Liam Harding is a lawyer for Big Oil and a literal giant person (especially when you compare his height to Mara’s). He’s a total grump and has been known to make food—loudly—late at night when he knows his roommate is trying to sleep.

Meet Cute: Only One House

Mara sees the house in Washington, D.C., that her mentor willed to her as a perfect (if outrageous) gift. It’s within walking distance to her job and in a good neighborhood, and, thanks to family money, really large. There’s just one problem: Mara owns only one-half of the house. The other is owned by her mentor’s nephew, Liam, who wants nothing more than to continue living there, without Mara. 

OK, there are two problems: Before he realized who Mara was, she and Liam shared a moment. And Liam is truly, unfairly, undeniably attractive. Even while being the worst roommate ever.

The Lean: They Had a Moment

From While You Were Sleeping, Bill Pullman explains attraction to Sandra Bullock

After their first meeting, it was an inevitability that Mara and Liam were going to end up together, and not just because Under One Roof is a romance story. They are the perfect kind of opposites—she’s tiny, he’s huge; she’s an environmental engineer working to save the planet, he’s a lawyer for a company that’s seemingly hell-bent on destroying it. They abhor each other at first (second) glance because both are too stubborn to try to give a little. They make life hell for each other for a good while. But then various things that they used to find annoying become something they look forward to. And life all of a sudden is better for each other being in it. 

Dirty Talk: In Her Head

Although the novella starts out with the clear promise that things—sexy things—are to come, the story does a loud record scratch and goes backward in time to somewhat slowly build up the sexual tension between Mara and Liam before reaching a satisfying climax in the last chapter (before an epilogue). It’s a bit of a slow burn while at the same time being pretty swift; there are only 117 pages in the e-book. That said, the sexy things in Chapter 13 are sweetly explicit in a realistic way*. Mara’s very much in her head for a lot of it, and there’s a lot of her own mental processing in the midst of the act(s).

But I can’t ask him to repeat himself, since he clearly got a little distracted on his way up. His hand travels along my inner thigh, long fingers grip the soft skin of my backside. It occurs to me in that moment that I am now bare. Completely naked except for a flimsy T-shirt and an even flimsier bra. And that this person softly biting into the flesh of my ass as though I am a piece of ripe fruit, this person is Liam Harding.

*Except for Liam’s size. He’s of course (she types with a bit of an eye roll) massively endowed.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

I enjoy the unabashed nerdery that comes through in Hazelwood’s books, and this story—although short—is another example of her own pride in being a member of the female STEM community and her passion for creating characters who are strong, sexy, and smart in equal measure. They’re also not afraid to be nerdy in other ways, including a love for The Bachelor and particularly animated music.

“And I guess I could lay off with the Disney soundtracks?”
“Could you?”
“Yeah.”
“Even The Little Mermaid?”
“Yes.”
“What about Moana?”
“Liam, I’m really trying here. If you could please—”

She’s right to draw the line there. The Moana soundtrack slaps.

We Need to Talk: Quickie

Under One Roof is one of three novellas in a series about three best friends who find love after grad school. It’s very short (and the shortest of the series) but doesn’t feel unfinished, although it does wrap up quite quickly after Mara and Liam make good on the sexual tension that’s long been the invisible third roommate in their house. I have a headcanon that Hazelwood wrote this (and the other two novellas) as a writing exercise of sorts when she needed a break from her main novel project. I’m all for that, both as someone who loves her writing and understands the need to switch things up from time to time to shake things loose in one’s noggin, but don’t go into this story expecting something really deep.

Was it Good For You? Short But Sweet

Saoirse Ronan from an SNL skit saying "So he's fast. Big deal."

This book might have finished before I was ready, but it didn’t leave me wanting. And that’s all I ask for in a good read.

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought a copy of this book with my own money and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Under One Roof is available now.

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Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.