How The Other Half Lives, by Clare London
Series: London Lads, Book 2
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (2nd edition)
Release Date: February 15, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Compulsive neat freak meets chaotic slob: Can their living space survive the conflict?
Martin Harrison keeps himself to himself and his Central London flat as neat as a new pin. Maybe he should loosen up and enjoy more of a social life, but in his mind, that’s tantamount to opening the floodgates to emotional chaos. He agrees, however, to join the flat-sitting scheme in his building and look after another tenant’s flat in exchange for a similar watch over his when he’s travelling for his work.
A floor away in the same building, Russ McNeely is happy with his life as a freelance cook and a self-confessed domestic slob. He also joins the flat-sitting scheme, both to be neighbourly and to help keep his flat in order, as Russ also travels for his work.
For a while, the very dissimilar men never meet. Martin is horrified at the mess at Russ’s flat, while Russ finds Martin’s minimalist style creepy. But in a spirit of generosity, each of them starts to help the other out by rearranging things in their own inimitable way.
Until the day a hiccup in the schedule brings them face-to-face at last.
First Edition published by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2011
What an adorable story! No, seriously, this novella is the cutest. I feel like sprinkling little hearts and exclamation points all over my review, because adorable book is adorable.
So here’s what I liked about How The Other Half Lives. It was playful and witty and used the juxtaposition of the two MCs’ dueling POVs to great, cheeky effect. It read like a cute romcom, and I mean that in the best possible way (I tend to be skeptical of romcoms). Not only was the dual POV a great introduction to Martin and Russ, it also underlined how complete opposites they were from each other.
I loved how distinct their character voices were. Martin is very prim and proper, whereas Russ is easygoing and cheerful. Oh and messy. Russ is very, very messy. Which clashes beautifully with Martin’s anal retentiveness when – having never met – they housesit for each other through their building’s apartment-sitting program.
About half the book is basically one long meetcute, and I loved every minute of it. The romance is sweet and gradual but the story is well-paced and moves at a good clip. I cannot recommend this book enough, but there are a few things I should point out.
I’ve already mentioned it’s a novella. According to the publisher, it clocks in at 65 pages, so just be aware of that. My Kindle uses those pesky (well, okay sometimes pesky) percentages, so when Martin and Russ’ story ended at 71%, I was completely bewildered. Basically, the rest of the book was a lengthy excerpt for book three and other author promo. Now don’t get me wrong, the novella ended on a great note, but it just felt abrupt at first because I thought there was more to the story.
The other thing to be aware of is that it there’s no conflict like you’d find in a typical story arc, so don’t expect any drama. I’ve seen other novellas skip or minimize this story element and it doesn’t always work out, but to be honest, I didn’t miss it at all with this book.
Clare London is a new-to-me author, and I’m so glad this book caught my eye. If you’re looking for a delightful little pick-me-up, How The Other Half Lives can’t be beat.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
To celebrate the release of How The Other Half Lives, one lucky winner will receive a $5 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press! To enter the contest, leave a comment below along with your email address. Entries close at Midnight (Eastern time) on Monday, February 20, 2017. Contest is open worldwide. Don’t forget to leave your contact info, and good luck!