Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Who doesn’t love a “bad boy” meets “good girl” story? You know the one where you hope the bad boy dirties up the good girl and the good girl helps the bad boy embrace a life that toes the “straight and narrow”? If that’s your romantic interest, then Piper Rayne’s The Rival Roomies is your book. Now, the title is a little misleading. Quite honestly, it doesn’t quite match the book’s blurb. The rivalry exists between Rian’s new roommate, Jax, and her friend (and crush), Dylan, although that rivalry isn’t necessarily for Rian’s attention. It’s a ploy to get Dylan to go after Rian.
Now, to be fair for this review, you must know that I did not read the first two books in The Rooftop Crew series. Thankfully, Piper Rayne does a brilliant job of offering enough of the backstory for the first two books that, if you haven’t read them (as I did), you will not be lost in the story of The Rival Roomies. Maybe you don’t fully understand the depth of Rian’s interest in Dylan or Dylan’s reticent towards relationships, yet Piper Rayne doesn’t make you feel like you missed too much, which is a huge plus for this book.
This story is the classic heroine has a huge crush on the hero and she wants more from him, but he doesn’t “do” relationships because his background makes it impossible for him to do them well. Even more, he worries that the heroine and he have nothing in common, so how would a relationship work between them? Instead, the hero denies himself, and his $exual frustration over her grows deeper as each day passes. Eventually, the hero pulls his head out of his ar$e, and they fall deeper into the relationship. I’m not sure that Piper Rayne is doing anything different with this story, but they’ve placed it in the midst of a series that allows the focus of this story to really be more about friends as family.
Since I am Professor Romance, I am always looking for the meaning behind the words of a romance. In this case, The Rival Roomies is a layered story about friends to lovers or opposites attracting. For one, Dylan, the hero, and Jax, his former best friend and current nemesis, are former foster children. Struggling with the insecurities of their pasts, they make choices that derail their happiness. They do this because, as Piper Rayne suggests, they don’t feel worthy of the good life may bring them. Dylan has huge abandonment issues that almost destroy his eventual relationship with Rian. Even more, he uses those fears to keep him away from a relationship with Rian. Piper Rayne deftly crafts his character to illustrate the fears so often found in relationships, and they offer him a meaningful, fulfilling relationship to show how love can bind our wounds.
While Dylan struggles with personal insecurities, Rian’s characterization underscores the message of friends who become family. Her vulnerabilities exist because her parents’ expectations for her life are founded in their own selfishness. While her past looks vastly different from Dylan’s, we learn quickly that Rian’s struggles are no less profound. Again, Piper Rayne’s careful storytelling highlights the idea that challenges exist no matter background and income level. Both Dylan and Rian carry hurts into a relationship that could easily derail their relationships, but Piper Rayne intuits the power of friends to help us through our pain. Even though Rian’s parents are awful, her friends act as her family and empower her to love Dylan.
The Rival Roomies is a good story. It utilizes some of our favorite tropes in romance, and it manifests the continued idea that our family can be whomever we want it to be. Woven through that idea is a story of two friends who eventually embrace their attraction and, in the end, find the happiest of happy endings. If you love a little salty with your sweet romance, then grab Piper Rayne’s The Rival Roomies.
In love and romance,