Retired boy bander RJ Contreras is hiding out in a sub-par apartment in LA licking his wounds after his solo career tanked. Living under the name Chad Woodcock he spends his days growing a beard, working out, and playing loud music. Dani is a grade school teacher who loves following the rules and when the guy next door starts getting annoying she doesn’t have a problem dropping hints and leaving post-its about how to be a good neighbor. Chad Woodcock doesn’t care if he’s a good neighbor at all and deliberately antagonizes her, pushing buttons and hoping to make her snap. Until one day when a disaster strikes and all they have is each other.
I tend to auto-buy books by my favorite authors and then forget about those books for a little while until I’m in the right mood to pick it up. Generally I do this without re-reading the synopsis, which is what happened with Ripple Effect. Guys, I had no clue this book was going to take me into a natural disaster romance! I know, it says it in the title, and this author doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, but wow was I surprised!
The author and I have something in common. We are both from Southern California, and in fact I grew up in the town where she now lives, so I love to catch “California-isms” in her novels. Even if it’s just small things like the weather, or a SoCal/NoCal reference. Ripple Effect draws on a topic that all Californians are familiar with… earthquakes. When you grow up with them you learn to gage the strength of one and decide instinctively if you need to get up and move or if you are good hanging on your couch through the trembler. The earthquake in this novel took me completely by surprise. Again, yes I know it’s a disaster flick romance novel, but I wasn’t expecting to flashback to my own experiences with the Northridge quake, which I can only think Ms. Bengtsson drew from for this novel. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that our two main characters get trapped in their complex and need to rely on each other to get out.
Life-changing moments like a natural disaster create a bond and needless to say, our two main characters who started off hating each other ended up together. This seems like a fait accompli, but through witty dialog, snarky humor, and heartbreaking moments, the transition from enemies to friends seemed seemless. A truly huge feat when you take all of the angst and pain that are built into this story. The funny moments were a great balance for the more emotionally charged which made this a really great novel. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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