Interior design school? Check.
Cute house to fix up? Check.
Sexy nemesis neighbour? Check. Unfortunately.
Grace Travis has it all figured out. She’ll finish her degree, get her dream job and, most importantly, she’ll find a place where she can truly belong, something she never had growing up. So when the opportunity to fix up and live in a little house on the beach presents itself, Grace can finally see her plan coming together…until a problem named Noah moves in next door.
Real estate developer Noah Jansen knows when he’s found something special. Somewhere he could even call home. Except his plan involves taking over the house next door – Grace’s new home.
Everyone knows you should love your neighbour, but that’s easier said than done.
And Grace and Noah are about to find out just how thin the line is between love and hate….
“[…] HAPPINESS ISN’T ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE OR WHAT YOU ACHIEVE. A HOME ISN’T WALLS, A ROOF, AND A FLOOR. IT’S A FEELING; IT COMES WITH BEING SEEN AND ACCEPTED FOR WHO YOU ARE. IT’S FINDING THE PERSON WHO MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU ACCOMPLISH. THE PERSON WHO MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD HAVE NOTHING AND STILL HAVE EVERYTHING. IT’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.”
Tell me the contemporary romcom genre isn’t dead, I beg you! Someone get Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver on the line STAT to show these newbies how the leading romcom man is done.
I’m once again asking romance writers to stop touting their books as enemies-to-lovers when that is not the case. While there is some mild bickering between Grace and Noah at the start, it’s not the electric ‘enemies’ vibe that I was hoping for. Once Noah stops haggling to buy Grace’s house – which happens less than halfway in – then any tension disappears. Even when they were supposedly ‘feuding’ over the house, it was friendly.
Sullivan doesn’t even try to make them believable enemies or at least make us dislike Noah enough to side with Grace. Tragically, Noah’s not even 10% of an arsehole… he’s just somewhat rich and rubbish at DIY?
How to Love Your Neighbour is ok. Just ok. Grace and Noah were mildly tolerable, but their romance is the epitome of insta-love.
My biggest issue with this book was pacing. Grace and Noah are practically ready to march down the aisle within a few chapters and the rest of the story suffers because of it. They spend approximately 0.5 minutes fighting over a fence before suddenly falling madly in love. Sullivan tries to incorporate a bit of will-they-won’t-they. Yet, it’s very clear that they will. What’s the point?
Rather than draw out the romance with some more bickering and angst, Sullivan inserts a very random HGTV-esque interior design competition element which completely derails the novel. How to Love Your Neighbour is not really a romance. Because Grace and Noah fall in love very early on, there’s little woo-ing to be done in the rest of the novel.
It’s basically an episode of DIY SOS in a book – minus the heartfelt story!
Unfortunately, How to Love Your Neighbour overstays its welcome. While I quite enjoy renovation and interior design in general, I didn’t realise how much it was going to dominate the plot. Instead of watching a flirty romance blossom over some home renovation shenanigans, we’re just following a couple decorating. At times, it can be mildly amusing but, mostly, it’s about as fun as watching paint dry. With no romantic stakes in sight, Sullivan is forced to inject tension in the form of Grace repeatedly protesting that her and Noah ‘can’t possibly be together’. It’s both eye-roll inducing and pointless.
There’s no denying that it’s an easy read. It’s the average vanilla ice cream of romance reads. Nothing exciting, nothing too terrible. If you can overlook the instant ‘it’s you and me forever’ soppiness, then you may even find some sweet moments. There’s something cracking side characters – Grace’s old friend Morty is a hoot! Yet, the repetitive innuendo, endless dragging out of the renovation plot and forced external conflict in lieu of romantic tension did little to impress. Sadly, I just couldn’t invest in the romantic leads.