Well folks we’re back with another book. I’m actually doing these retroactively because I went on a reading spree the other week, so boy oh boy do I have content for you. This week’s review is brought to you by the lovely Calli Morvay ’26 who is now also enabling my reading addiction and being my supplier.
Basically here’s my deal. I watch Instagram Reels a lot (which is TikTok two weeks late)—though I feel like I should note that I’m getting much better about my screen time. On Instagram Reels people review and rate their most recent reads. I then go on a hunt to obtain said reads being reviewed to find out whether they deserve the hype or not. Occasionally I’ll find books that aren’t getting nearly as much hype as they should and then direct you toward those reads.
This week is actually our first spin-off book review of this column. I don’t normally support spin-offs because usually they’re with characters you didn’t really care about, but when this was offered to me I couldn’t say no.
Without any further wait, this week’s victim is “The American Roommate Experiment,” by Elena Armas.
The name Armas may sound familiar to you if you frequent BookTok. That’s because she is the author of the hit “The Spanish Love Deception” which people went absolutely crazy for on BookTok. Like, she easily joined the ranks of fan favorites like Sally Thorne in the romance genre. That being said, I have read “The Spanish Love Deception” and I really enjoyed it. It’s exactly what you want it to be—a cute little romantic book. The plot focuses on the love story between Aaron Blackford and Catalina Martin in an ever-so-slightly steamy slow burn. People went crazy for Aaron Blackford, I mean he is the epitome of the joke “man written by a woman” and should be the bar for every man in the real world. “The American Roommate Experiment” takes the main character from “The Spanish Love Deception,” Catalina, and focuses on her best friend, putting her love story center stage for this novel.
We’ll start with the good for this book. The plot is pretty alright. Rosie is looking for her inspiration for her next big romance book, a new career she is pursuing after her first book was a hit. After some structural issues with her apartment she goes to crash at Catalina’s place which she thinks is getting robbed because of the pounding at the door. Now enter our love interest, Lucas Martín. Lucas asked Catalina if he could crash at her place while she was away and he was in town—this all unknown to Catalina. Now the big plot twist—Catalina has had a huge crush on Lucas but never acted on it. We’ve all been there folks. Fast forward like 100 pages, Lucas strikes a deal with Rosie that he will give her inspiration for her next book by taking her out on a series of dates. With one condition—don’t fall in love with each other.
She’s so romantic it isn’t even funny, like sometimes I sit down to describe the plots of these romance books and I’m like no I swear to god it wasn’t that cheesy but then I’m like damn maybe it was that cheesy. I was raised on Hallmark movies so my metric on this is really messed up.
Rosie is a pretty great lead; she’s witty and strong willed but also a hopeless romantic. That being said I don’t love how big a deal she makes in changing her profession considering she was already successful with her first novel, but a minor flaw.
While overall I did really enjoy this story, there were parts that I felt could’ve been executed differently. For starters it’s a very long exposition for the novel. Like really long. It takes like 100 pages to get to the point of the story. Now if this were a thriller or a mystery which needed to be set up I would forgive the book instantly. This is a romance book, I read these so I don’t have to pay attention to things. I was legit sitting there waiting to find out why I was reading it. Like it was good writing but I had no idea where the story was going or how the characters were going to mesh together. This did in turn make some other parts of the book feel rushed in comparison. I then consulted my friends who had already read it who agreed that it’s a lot of exposition for a romance novel that doesn’t need much setting up. Like it’s not that deep: girl likes boy, boy likes girl but friend zone and trying to become something more.
Now mind you, I may not have needed as much of the exposition because I had read “The Spanish Love Deception” and the first part of the book does give you a run down of those characters. This is great for readers who want to pick up this story as a one off and not have to read “The Spanish Love Deception” first.
Comparatively I liked “The Spanish Love Deception” significantly better than “The American Roommate Experiment.” But at the end of the day they’re both cute romance books that make you feel happy. Some differences: “The Spanish Love Deception” is an enemies-to-lovers (workplace rivals) whereas “The American Roommate Experiment” is friends-to-lovers. So choose your poison if you know what I mean.
Also Lucas is no Aaron. Comparing the leads of the stories, I definitely feel that I liked Aaron and Catalina better than I liked Rosie and Lucas. That being said, the bathroom scene at the costume party was top-tier (the girlies who get it get it). Now this was neither a plus or a minus for me, but I feel like “The American Roommate Experiment” was much steamier in comparison to Armas’ first novel in this universe. Like I mean significantly. Now maybe I’m not remembering “The Spanish Love Deception” but there were parts of “The American Roommate Experiment” where I was like I should not be reading this in public. It wasn’t insanely explicit, I just think for my taste perhaps it was more than I usually commit to. That is all I will say on that.
Tune in next time for when I review “Ariadne” by Jennifer Saint.