The Girl Next Door – ARC Review + Excerpt

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The Girl Next Door
by Chelsea M. Cameron
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher:  Carina Press
Standalone
Number of pages:  320
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Netgalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance F/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 5/24/20 to 5/25/20

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Chelsea M. Cameron is back with the opposites-attract, sweet-and-sexy small-town romance you’ve been waiting for.

Iris Turner hightailed it out of Salty Cove, Maine, without so much as a backward glance. Which is why finding herself back in her hometown—in her childhood bedroom, no less—has the normally upbeat Iris feeling a bit down and out. Her spirits get a much-needed lift, though, at the sight of the sexy girl next door.

No one knows why Jude Wicks is back in Salty Cove, and that’s just how she likes it. Jude never imagined she’d be once again living in her parents’ house, never mind hauling lobster like a local. But the solitude is just what she needs—until Iris tempts her to open up.

A no-strings summer fling seems like the perfect distraction for both women. Jude rides a motorcycle, kisses hard and gives Iris the perfect distraction from her tangled mess of a life. But come September, Iris is still determined to get out of this zero-stoplight town.

That is, unless Jude can give her a reason to stay…

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

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Title: The Girl Next Door
Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
Length: approx. 60,000 words / 272 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)
On-Sale: May 26, 2020
Format: Trade Paperback
Price: $14.99 U.S.
ISBN: 9781335146946

My Review:

This is really a sweet story.  There’s a very slow burn, but the payoff is worth the wait. Iris and Jude have a beautiful connection, even though Jude is fighting that connection with all she’s worth.

While this story is more centered around Iris, it’s Jade who has the deeper wounds. But Iris still has a lot to learn, mostly about herself.  It’s not necessarily her intent, but Jade brings out a different side of Iris and helps her to see what she wants and who she is beyond all those expectations she put on herself. Iris was on a path she had set a long time ago, feeling if she veered even slightly off course it was a failure. Jade helped her to realize that it’s okay to change your mind and your dreams.

From what I gather, Jade didn’t have it easy growing up. Her parents were never understanding or supportive of her and couldn’t seem to bother getting to know her at all. If she wasn’t going to be what they had pictured in their minds, they didn’t have a use for their own daughter.  On top of that, Jade went through something terrible with no support system to back her up.  My only problem with her storyline is that it just skimmed the surface.  I felt this could have gone so much deeper.

There were a few times the timeline got choppy to me. It was toward the end and during a part of the story I felt was being a bit rushed.  As much as I often enjoy a slow burn, I felt this story went 0-60 pretty quickly when it finally happened, and then the sequence of events after that didn’t line up correctly in my mind.

All that being said, I really enjoyed this author and found myself interested to read more. Even with my pickiness about timelines, I can’t complain about her characters. They are all beautifully written.

3 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

Excerpt:

My parents and I hadn’t really talked about what happened and why I was back, mostly because it wasn’t for just one reason. There were many reasons, all culminating with me packing my shit in my car, loading up my dog, abandoning my friends, and driving back here.

I asked Mom if there was any ice cream in the freezer and she said that there was. While I was getting a spoon, I glanced out the window, which happened to look right into our neighbor’s living room.

Jude.

The lights were on and she stood in the living room wearing nothing but a sports bra and some athletic shorts. The spoon I’d just grabbed clattered on the floor. As I stood up from retrieving the spoon, I found her staring directly at me. Instead of looking away like a normal person, I stared back.

Her hair had been long in high school and her arms hadn’t been so…sculpted back then. At least not that I remembered. My mouth went dry and I held on to the spoon for dear life.

“What are you looking at?” a voice said behind me and I shrieked and dropped the spoon again. I turned around and found my mom leaning over my shoulder to see what I’d been staring at.

“Oh, nothing, just staring off into space.” I rushed with my spoon and the ice cream back into the living room. My parents kept the room dark and the only light was from my dad’s lamp and the TV, so I could hide in a corner with my lobster-red face.

What had come over me? I’d just stood there leering like a fucking creeper. Part of me expected a knock at the door and for her to storm in and ask what I’d been staring at.

That didn’t happen, but it didn’t stop me from looking up from my book every few minutes to check and make sure.

Before bed, I took Dolly out to do her business and my eyes kept flicking over to the house. The lights were still on, but I wasn’t going to stare this time. I hadn’t asked for more information from my mom about Jude, but I did wonder what she was doing back here. She’d hated this town, from what I remembered, so it couldn’t just be because of her parents’ house.

High school in a small town in Maine was brutal for anyone who didn’t conform, and Jude had been adamant about not conforming. I’d done my best to get through, and the drama club had been my safe haven. I’d never thought seriously about acting after high school, since that was way out of my league, but I still thought about it every now and then. There was a community theater group a few towns away. Could I put myself out there and get into it again?

Dolly was taking her sweet time, sniffing the bushes at the edge of the porch to find the right one to pee near. I jumped as I heard a door slam, the door to the neighbor’s house.

I froze with my back to the house, pretending I wasn’t completely aware of what was happening. Was she leaving again on that motorcycle? Where would she go tonight? The only bar in town closed in less than an hour, and there was nothing else open. Unless she might be going to a friend’s house for a party?

Or perhaps she was going to the beach for a midnight swim. I shivered at the thought of Jude slipping beneath the waves like a mermaid.

Copyright © 2020 by Chelsea M. Cameron

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About Chelsea M. Cameron
Chelsea M. Cameron is a New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author from Maine who now lives and works in Boston. She’s a red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader, and world’s worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, tweeting, and playing fetch with her cat, Sassenach. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is. Visit her at www.chelseamcameron.com.

Connect with Chelsea M. Cameron

Author’s Website     Twitter     Instagram     Facebook     Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon     B&N     iTunes     Kobo      Google

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Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.

 A new Carina Adores title is available each month:

    • The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover (available May 26, 2020)
    • Just Like That by Cole McCade (available June 30, 2020)
    • Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (available July 28, 2020
    • Better Than People by Roan Parrish (available August 25, 2020)
    • Full Moon in Leo by Brooklyn Ray (available September 29, 2020)
    • If You Can’t Stand the Heat by KD Fisher (available October 27, 2020)
    • Just Like Us by Cole McCade (available November 24, 2020)

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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