They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.
Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.
Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.
While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.
“FICTION COMES FROM TRUTH. IT IS A WONDERFUL, IMAGINATIVE, FLOURISHING THING GROWN FROM A SEED OF REAL FEELINGS, REAL DESIRES, REAL FEARS. NO ARTIST EVER CREATES FROM NOTHING. WE WORK FROM WHAT WE’VE EXPERIENCED, INSPIRED BY THE UNIQUE PIECE OF THE WORLD WE SEE. IT’S WHY ART CANNOT BE REPLICATED.”
Yikes. This was just… disappointing.
I knew I should have given up when it took me over a month to actually get past the first 100 pages. Alas, Mama didn’t raise no quitter and, like the idiot I am, I ploughed on. I even struggled to find a quote ‘highlight’ for this review as the prose was so cringe-inducing. The above is the best of a bad bunch.
The novel can easily be summed up by: “Communication? We don’t know her!”.
Let me start by saying that Nathan and Katrina have zero chemistry. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Neither of them were particularly charismatic enough for me to care about them as individuals let alone invest in them as a romantic duo. In fact, as the book goes on, any chance for them to become likeable as characters fades fast. They were just plain boring… and frustrating.
Nathan is the epitome of an indie softboy who loves to tell everyone his profound opinions on love and relationships despite the fact he has a failed marriage under his belt because he was in love with Kat the whole time. I knew it was bad when I couldn’t even envisage what Nathan looked like. I couldn’t even think of a hot actor to embody him in my imagination while reading because Nathan’s that bland. In the words of Ms Keke Palmer, “I hate to say it — I hope I don’t sound ridiculous — I don’t know who this man is. I mean, he could be walking down the street, I wouldn’t know a thing.” The same applies to Kat. The only thing I can recall is that she’s a complete pushover and has slender hands(?). By the time they do succumb to their mutual desire, it couldn’t be less exciting. I’ve eaten ice cream that had more spice than these two.
Kat’s fiancé Chris existed for the sole purpose of being terrible and greedy in order to justify Kat cheating on him with Nathan. For a romance book, the characters spend an awful lot of time in relationships with other people and disrespecting said relationships, which makes them hard to root for. Much of the flashbacks focus on Nathan’s marriage. In the present, Kat is engaged to Chris. The plot tries to dance around the years-long emotional cheating and present infidelity, but it’s bad vibes. It’s not even a remotely ~exciting~ and ~sexy~ affair. I was dozing off by the time it got to the insanely awkward and drawn-out intimate scene.
It’s certainly not the enemies-to-lovers tale that the blurb promises. I’m not sure if it’s because the book has two authors, but The Roughest Draft did flow very smoothly. The chapters felt clunky and diced together. At times, it was hard to work out which POV I was even reading. It was all too exhausting and made me lose faith in the contemporary chick-lit romance genre.
Nathan and Kat could’ve saved four years, the trip to Florida, and my entire afternoon attempting to finish reading their rocky romance by a) communicating and b) going to couples therapy. It’s hard to root for a duo that is just so doomed.
That being said, research has led me to discover that the two authors behind the novel are in fact are a couple themselves. Two authors in a relationship writing a book together about two authors who write books together and fall in love because nothing says “romance” like a very lukewarm, biege romance novel centered around cheating.