Review: Neighbor Dearest by Penelope Ward

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I reluctantly picked this book up even though my last two Penelope Ward books were severe disappointments. Sins of Sevin and RoomHate were books I wanted to like, but I just couldn’t stomach the heroes and heroines. Ms. Ward has a tendency to make her female main character so desperate, so clingy, so obvious, and so weak and needy that I often felt like hurling my e-reader during the course of reading (and, ultimately, not finishing) those 2 books.

Thank goodness, though, that Neighbor Dearest cured me of that violent and expensive inclination.

I loved Stepbrother Dearest, so when I read Neighbor Dearest’s synopsis, I thought, maybe there’s a saving grace here. Chelsea was Elec’s ex-girlfriend, the one he left so he can be with Greta. We don’t often get to read the stories of our favorite book-heroes’ exes, so Chelsea’s story was a fresh and welcomed one. Add to that the levity that the synopsis alluded to, I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Ward didn’t stretch out the drama and the asshole-ishness she also tends to paint her heroes with. There were hidden twists in their love story – twists that I think were absolutely necessary, in order to keep jaded readers like myself interested.

Damien’s story, plus his journey to finding HEA with Chelsea, is believable, relate-able, sad, and wonderful all at the same time. Admittedly, I almost chose to DNF this book, because I couldn’t really understand why Chelsea came to like asshole Damien in the beginning, what it was about him, initially, that she was attracted to. He wasn’t nice at first. I also confess to almost not finishing Neighbor Dearest because Chelsea’s sister, Jade, was originally pushing Chelsea to hook up with him, just for the hell of it. With 5 starsinsensitive and sexually-needy sisters and friends like that, I typically want to hurl. Nevertheless, I rallied on – particularly because I didn’t want to waste my money – and because I wanted to see Chelsea’s empowerment.

It’s a great thing I didn’t pass this one up, despite my previous experiences with Ms. Ward’s solo books. A welcome change, indeed, was found right next door, inside this book.

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