Thursday, July 25, 2013

7 Heart Review: Roommates by Katherine Stone

Roommates
Katherine Stone

Page Count: 408

Release Date: 29 June 2011 (trade paperback reprint)
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published reprint)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Katherine!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Stanford University, California...

Carrie was a wide-eyed freshman when she arrived at the university she had been hearing about all her life. She believed she knew what to expect. And her big brother, her strong and handsome brother Stephen, was there to lean on if she needed help. But she was unprepared for the monumental changes and monumental emotions she would experience. She was also unprepared for Jake.

Gorgeous, seductive, and deadly, Jake was a man of dark secrets and hidden dreams. He was all wrong for the innocent and optimistic Carrie, but she became part of his secrets and his dreams. But would he ever permit her into the deepest places of his badly wounded heart?

Megan was Carrie's roommate. Golden and beautiful, the gifted actress could dazzle and pretend even as her heart was breaking and her world was falling apart. The decision she made would result in a crisis that would reunite them all and open unhealed wounds and smoldering passions

Once entwined, and lives and loves of the roommates would be forever changed. And they would be as turbulent and courageous and shimmering as the extraordinary world in which they lived.
He had made a vow [to her] that other time. I must leave her alone. She is too good, too precious.
But now he broke it. Because she kissed him back? Perhaps. And because, as they kissed, she made him feel good and precious, too. And because of his faraway dreams of joy, of home, of her.

Originally published in the 80s, Roommates—recently revived and republished—is an enrapturing, gratifying journey that magnificently illustrates the soaring highs and gloomy lows of the college experience, and how it has the sheer power to change lives forever.

The story begins Carrie's freshman year, set at Stanford, and immediately picks up on the lives of her roommates, the phenomenal actress Megan, and the devastating beauty and brains, Beth, as well. Carrie's imminent "flaw"—her tenacious and resilient loving, despite the occasional rejection—sets her up for a world of possibilities in college, as well as a whole new realm of heartbreak. However, Roommates is not just Carrie's story; it's Megan's, it's Beth's, it's her brother, Stephen's, and it's the mysterious and brooding Jake's. Their individual plots all overlap, and the relationships between these five Stanford students, are unmistakably laced together—and forever will be. This makes for a very complicated, very intricate web of a story. I found it a little too soap opera-esque for my taste, but have to admit how well-concocted it is—Katherine Stone is a flawless writer with such a compelling, lyrical voice.

I like how there's a bit of a thriller subplot that doesn't make the book solely about romance; it was refreshing and gripping, although nothing terribly exciting. As with most of Stone's novels, the depiction of love is cloyingly sweet, grandly optimistic, and rather chaste. If you don't like the guaranteed happily-ever-after story line and the inherently perfect cast of characters (seriously... all of them are attractive, nice, smart, generous, brave, etc. etc.), then you may want to stay away from this book. As for me, I do quite enjoy the spice in novels of today's time, but I still enjoyed Roommates's mellow, sentimental tone.

For a glittering narrative that spans not only the young adulthoods of five unforgettable characters, but also their creeping pasts and unpredictable later lives in 1970s America, definitely give Roommates a try.

Pros


Beautiful style // Well-explored, lovable characters // Evocative of the decade and the campus spirit of Stanford // Nice blend of romance, passion, and drama // Connections between characters satisfyingly elaborated upon and probed // Jake's difficult past and his emotional turmoil particularly resonated with me // Juicy plot twist I never saw coming

Cons


Every character (aside from the obvious villain) is good-natured through and through, which I found unusual // A bit too sugary sweet... but that's the appeal! // On the wordy side... not the kind of book you can read in one sitting

Love

He had told her the truth, every truth, with no omissions. It was a factual recounting, without embellishment, the skeleton without the heart. But to the woman who was listening, and who was hearing his every word with a heart that loved him, the aching details, the ravaged emotions, were there.

Verdict


There's plenty of suspense and danger, as well as love, light, and laughter to go around in the hopelessly romantic—and fabulously nostalgic—Roommates. Days of Our Lives meets a tame, university-level Breakfast Club in an all-American story that flows like magic and is bound to captivate fans of conventional love stories. If you pine for a good ol' traditional romance, then Katherine Stone's 1987 novel—which just happens to be the prolific author's first—is THE book for you Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable (x)