Houseswap 101 by Jaime ClevengerHouseswap 101 by Jaime Clevenger is a contemporary romance I will be eternally grateful for because it introduced me to the term “housebutch.”

Robbie Price lives and works in Seattle at a day job doing tech stuff and she helps her uncle run his marina in her spare time. When Robbie complains to her coworker Matt in San Diego about Seattle’s constant rain and Matt complains back about his soon-to-be ex-wife nagging him to complete a hefty to-do list so they can sell their house, Matt has a brilliant idea: he and Robbie should swap lives for a month. Matt can help her uncle with the marina while Robbie knocks out the to-do list for his ex, Devyn.

Or, this would be a brilliant idea, except Matt neglects to mention any of this to Devyn, who freaks out when she comes home to a stranger in her backyard.

Devyn is an ER doctor who’s burning the candle at both ends because her team is understaffed. The last thing she needs is for her ex to have abandoned all of his responsibilities and stick her with some stranger, even if that stranger is a super hot butch who gets things done (unlike Matt).

One bitch session with her besties helps Devyn realize she needs Robbie to help her get the house ready to sell, since she can’t afford it on one income. Besides, it’s only one month. She can put up with anything for a month.

It takes way less than that month for Devyn and Robbie to start feeling feelings in their pants, rapidly followed by their hearts. But can they make a relationship work when they live so far apart?

Writing

I was sold on this book as soon as I saw the premise and it didn’t disappoint. It manages to balance coziness, sexiness, and angst like a tightrope walker, with the tension ratcheted up by the one-month constraint on Robbie’s time in San Diego.

While Houseswap 101 isn’t an enemies-to-lovers romance, it starts from an antagonistic place that isn’t Devyn’s fault or Robbie’s. So, although we know Robbie is an absolute dreamboat of a person, it takes time for Devyn to catch up and appreciate her as much as I did from the first page.

Also, Matt might disagree with me, but I’m reluctant to call Devyn an ice queen, no matter how icy she is towards Robbie at first. Devyn is warm and friendly with her friends and colleagues, so if Matt hadn’t been a coward in the first place, she and Robbie would have gotten off on a much better foot. Of course, then we’d have a less interesting book, so as much as I think Matt should kick rocks, his bad choice sets up a compelling story.

Pros And My Favourite Parts

I don’t think I’ve seen a romance quite like this before, with one of the protagonists in the middle of a divorce. This worked for me because the divorce was an essential part of the story and Devyn and Robbie’s relationship development. Devyn’s weariness is palpable, between feeling like the only adult in her home and being overworked, so having Robbie around is a relief, once she accepts the situation.

I adored Robbie. She is clearly the partner that Devyn needs at this stage of her life and she comes alive in San Diego. She also has two other relationships that I love in this book: with Devyn’s dog, Angel, and her uncle Bruce.

Angel is a Jack Russell terrier who doesn’t like anyone but Devyn and bites if anyone else tries to pick him up — except, of course, for Robbie, who Angel immediately adores. This was a fun and effective way to reinforce what a good person she is, because animals know!

Robbie is very close with her uncle, who raised her. Bruce is gay, single, and has never had biological children. In addition to showing that Robbie has been well loved and supported by at least one person her whole life, this relationship makes it more difficult for Robbie to consider a future outside of Seattle, adding to the “will they or won’t they…” question at the heart of the romance.

The chemistry is also ridiculously good in Houseswap 101. Although it’s not an erotic romance, it’s definitely on the spicier side and has more sex scenes than most contemporary romances. So, just keep that in mind if you’re reading it in public for, you know, reasons.

Heads Up

Nothing!

The Conclusion

Tara's Fanfic FaveI loved this book so much, I immediately put it into my “Favourites” folder on my Kindle, so I can easily find it again. Houseswap 101 is sexy, sweet, and oh so much fun, with just enough angst to keep things interesting. If you need a pick-me-up read or want to dream about a hunky housebutch, you should absolutely check it out.

Excerpt from Houseswap 101 by Jaime Clevenger

“Just give me that Weedwacker and leave.” Probably Matt had hired the cheapest gardener he could find. “Are you from Craigslist?”

“What?” The woman seemed legitimately confused now. “I swear I had no idea these were plants you wanted. I was told to mow the grass and take down the weeds.”

“These aren’t weeds. These are plants the monarchs need so they don’t go extinct.” She felt her voice rise along with her pulse but couldn’t keep either in check. “And don’t get me started on the bees. Everything here was about to flower.” As soon as she realized that, her anger gave way to grief and she looked down at the fallen plants. “In a month or two, they’d have been covered in butterflies. You whacked them all to shreds.”

The woman’s face fell. What’d she say her name was? Something ridiculous like Benny or Sammy or… Robbie. That was it. Robbie. At least she had the decency to look contrite as she stared at the remainder of the garden and took in what she’d done. Not that feelings mattered at this point.

“Give me that thing,” Devyn said, gesturing to the Weedwacker. “Matt can pay you later. I don’t even care why you were pretending to be a gardener.” She added the last bit as the woman opened her mouth, clearly about to offer an explanation.

“I didn’t know—”

“I don’t care. Where’s the key? You must have one since you let Angel out.” She held out her hand.

Robbie dug in her pocket and held up Matt’s set of keys. She seemed to hesitate handing them off. “This is probably not the best time to ask, but did Matt tell you about him and me swapping places for a month? I assumed he would have, but now I’m thinking that didn’t happen.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I work with Matt. We’re in the same division—network security. He asked if I wanted to do a house swap and it’s been raining nonstop in Seattle.”

“A house swap?” She stared at the woman as everything she’d said registered. “As in, you’d be living here?”

“Only for a month.”

Only? If she weren’t already pissed at Matt, this would do it.

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1642475425

Publisher: Bella Books

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