Ashley, Allison. The Roommate Pact. Harlequin, 2023. 400 pp. ISBN 9780778334248 $18.99
Firefighter Graham and nurse Claire are roommates with a joking agreement to embark on a friends with benefits relationship if they are still single at forty; as soon as they voice the option, they suddenly start to notice just how attractive the other is. She’s determined not to fall for a first responder whose life is constantly on the line. When Graham breaks a leg in a minor climbing accident and needs companion care, Claire realizes she cares more than she thought. Voiceless due to getting intubated, she starts sleeping in his bed since he can’t call out if he needs something. Their early communication after the accident is by notes and texts while his voice heals, and then Graham begins unburdening his thoughts and feelings to what he believes to be a defunct email address of Claire’s.
Tension ratchets up when Claire washing Graham’s hair becomes a sensual experience ,and again when he decides to help her with her dating profile. When she brings him to see his parents, there is Just!One!Bed! and of course she gets along perfectly with his well-meaning, match-making parents–and even becomes friendly with his dog. They do consummate the relationship, but the nitty gritty after the hot makeout sessions is left off the page.
Chapters alternate points of view, and Graham’s heartfelt emails are swoon-worthy. The story is well-plotted and well-paced with good character development and sensory writing. This takes place in the same universe as Would You Rather–Claire is the one who tricks Noah and Mia into confessing their feelings, and Graham and Claire’s chemistry is palpable there; and although Noah and Mia appear in The Roommate Pact, it does work as a stand-alone interconnected novel rather than part of a series. Overall, this is a solid hurt/comfort romance with a very satisfying slow burn of friends falling in love.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #TheRoommate Pact from #NetGalley through the author’s publicist.