Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.
I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.
Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.
Seeking: A room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread.
I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.
A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from Kieran Shipley. The broody lumberjack wants more from me than another homemade pretzel, but if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.
Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart ...
Source: advance ebook provided in exchange for an honest review
It genuinely feels like a long-awaited homecoming reading a book that’s set in Sarina Bowen’s True North universe. It was fun to be reacquainted with the Shipleys and branch out to the extended members of the family.
Roommate is such a tender story of two people finding in the other what’s been missing in their lives. For Kieran who has remained in the small Vermont town of Colebury all his life, it’s the chance to finally explore his sexuality and curiosity. For Roderick, he learns what a healthy relationship should be. His return to Vermont has been anything but happy. He abruptly left an abusive relationship on the other side of the country, drove all the way back home only to be turned away by his parents because they can't accept that he's gay. Roderick may be broke, jobless and homeless but has enough self-worth to refuse to renounce who he is. Luckily, he lands a job at the Busy Bean, Audrey Shipley's and Zara's cafe, where his baking skills will come in handy. At least one thing is looking up for him. Kieran sees it differently, though.
Kieran recognizes Roderick as soon as he shows up. Roderick was out in high school which fascinated the quiet, man-of-few words. He's not exactly comfortable knowing that Roderick will be working alongside him at the Busy Bean, not because he's gay, but because his presence brings back forgotten memories and confusing thoughts. Roderick mistakes Kieran's quietness for dislike which is the opposite of what Kieran feels. Anyway, events transpire in such as way that they end up as roommates which leads to the kind of intimacy that's long been simmering. Kieran's hardly dated in the last couple of years because he hasn't been interested. Around Roderick, however, his imagination comes to life, and as much as it's a bad idea to get sidetracked from his goals, that pull is just too strong.
Same goes for Roderick who's desperately trying to establish new habits so he won't find himself in the kind of mess that landed him back in Vermont. But Kieran is irresistible. His steadiness, his calmness, his reliability, the way he treats Roderick so respectfully, speaks to him. The sexual tension that's been steadily building leads to the inevitable. What becomes tricky from here on is that Kieran is still new to all this and hasn't come out. He's not ashamed just private. Roderick knowing this is slightly hesitant to let his heart get deeper into whatever it is they have but he's never been one to make the wise, selfless decisions. He's a goner, for sure.
The best quote to describe their respective journeys comes from Roderick - “We’re walking different parts of the same path.” It's such a wise and sympathetic perspective to have, and recognize how much Kieran's struggling with coming out because of his complicated family dynamics. It's also a universal truth that people ultimately arrive at their place of acceptance and contentment in their own way. Yeah, that line made me feel all sorts of sappy, in a good way, of course.
Reading Roommate was easy. Bowen has a smooth way of conveying earnest stories that get to the center of you. Revisiting with the Shipleys and absorbing their joyful vibes is like the best medicine. The family gatherings are always comforting. Bowen also adds a vital piece of detail to Kieran's backstory towards the end that upends all the years of secrecy and lack of communication, and hopefully leads to reconciliation. Kieran and Roderick's story is everything I love about her stories in the True North world - family, hope and new beginnings. Fans will definitely not be disappointed.
Click here to read an excerpt from Roommate!