*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*
CW: mention of depression, anxiety, sexual content
Even though I know that Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka wrote several YA contemporaries together before, The Roughest Draft was my first experience with their writing and it was their first foray into the adult romance genre. Right from the bat, I have to say that it felt smart, quick-witted and consisted of some really beautiful prose.
Going in, I knew very little about the author duo. However, having read the acknowledgments section as well as being informed by my friend Marie (who has reviewed the book as well, which you can check out here) that they’re married in real life made this whole book feel very meta. The characters, Katrina and Nathan, put so much of themselves in their writing and you cannot help but wonder if the authors did the same. How much of it mirrored their feelings for each other? How much is just pure fiction? I love the intrigue and layers these questions create in your mind as you get drawn more and more into their world.
While this novel was medium to fast paced, I found myself a little bit frustrated with our characters at times, which made me stop every now and then. Their fall out was built up as this huge thing and you could really see the grudge in the first chapters. After all, they hadn’t spoken in four years and hadn’t just cut each other out of their lives, but other people as well. Sometimes, the break up felt a bit too big for what actually transpired though and how easily they found their way back to each other. The hurt and miscommunication between Katrina and Nathan I could eventually understand, also why they were holding each other back, but the ghosting of other characters felt petty.
Ultimately, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka managed to create a beautiful relationship though. It is flawed and it is perfect, it is real and pure fairy tale fiction at the same time. The kind of stuff you wish your romance was made of. The intimacy between Katrina and Nathan is truly one of a kind, but combines all the best parts of “second chance romance”-tropes as well as “best friends to lovers”-themes.
It also gave an interesting peek into the world of writing collaboratively, which interests me now more than ever, and the publishing world as a whole. As a bookworm and someone who would very much like to write and release a book eventually, this setting was one of my favorite parts of the whole novel.
Fazit: 4/5 stars! Beautiful prose for a really meta love story.