It’s been quite some time since I read ‘Stepbrother Dearest’, which I think was probably for the best in hindsight. At first, the multiple references to Elec and Greta had me thinking that I would need to reread that book prior to reading, or rather listening to, this one. As much as I loved ‘Stepbrother Dearest’, I was glad to find that ‘Neighbor Dearest’ read easily as a standalone.
If you’re like me, you vaguely remember the nice girlfriend that Elec ditched in ‘Stepbrother Dearest’ when he found his way back to Greta. I, for one, had completely forgotten her name by the time I finished that book because she wasn’t part of the happy couple that I had worked out in my mind. Her name was Chelsea and ‘Neighbor Dearest’ is her story.
At the onset of this book, Chelsea Jameson is heartbroken. She is trying to pick up the pieces of her life and taking it one day at a time. She was shocked and utterly devastated to be dumped by Elec, the man she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. She thought they were the perfect couple, but obviously she didn’t know anything about her “perfect” boyfriend.
When her frustration with her neighbor’s noisy dogs prompt her to complain to the landlord, it is the beginning of an unlikely friendship. What starts out as a contentious relationship, turns into a close friendship. Along the way, those feelings eventually turn romantic in nature.
Damien H. Hennessey is not only her neighbor, but her landlord. He is equal parts amused and aroused when he first meets his feisty new tenant. He cannot deny his attraction to her, but he’s not interested in settling down with anyone.
The two decide to keep their relationship friendly, agreeing to not pursue anything further. Damien still has a complicated relationship with his ex-girlfriend and Chelsea is still reeling from her break-up with Elec. Neither of them are in any place to commit to someone else.
As they spend more and more time together, their feelings become more complicated. Chelsea knows that she is falling for Damien and needs to protect her heart. She’s doesn’t think that she’s capable of surviving another heartache after everything that Elec put her through. She knows that Damien is not looking for a relationship and she needs to distance herself before too much damage is done.
Despite his feelings for Chelsea, Damien is unwilling to waiver on his decision. He acts like he doesn’t want Chelsea, but he doesn’t want anyone else to have her either. Yet, it is clear that there is some unknown factor(s) influencing his decision. He is keeping secrets that are impacting both of their lives.
When things finally hit the fan, I can’t say that I was terribly surprised. Nonetheless, it was emotional and every bit as heartbreaking as it would have been had I been caught off-guard. It was one of those situations where you can understand the reason why somebody does something, but you don’t agree with it. I found myself getting frustrated with Damien, only to have to reign it in because I didn’t really know how I would behave given the same set of circumstances.
Overall, I thought that this was a great, heart-warming story. It was emotional at times, but mostly sweet and humorous. I enjoyed the references to ‘Stepbrother Dearest’, even though you didn’t need to read that book to follow, or enjoy, this one. Everything worked itself out nicely in the end. I listened to the Audible version and it was fantastic!