Contrary to what his best friend believes, Martin is not lonely. He has his work as a furniture buyer and… well that’s about all he has. But he’s not lonely and trying to find anyone to put up with his anal retentive quirks isn’t very likely. Still, in an effort at socialization, he signs up for his building’s apartment watching program. The idea is simple: neighbors check on one another’s flats while the owner is away. Martin never expects signing up will result in the upheaval of his well-ordered life.
Russ is an amazing chef. His recipes are original and fresh, even if his apartment is a complete wreck. He’d like to blame the mess on his frequent travels, but the harsh reality is that he’s something of a slob. But he still needs someone to check up on the place while he’s gone and is partnered with Martin. They begin to learn about one another from their apartments. When they are finally introduced, both men are forced to acknowledge they’ve unintentionally begun to influence one another. They say opposites attract and for Martin and Russ, love might just be found in the most unexpected places.
Short and sweet. That’s the perfect description for Clare London’s How the Other Half Lives. It also happens to be a perfect fit for our Opposites Attract theme week. We’re all aware of the classic concept of the odd couple: the neat freak and the slob. But Clare London approaches this well trod idea in a novel and clever way. Russ and Martin don’t even meet until perhaps half way through the story, but thanks to the exploration of one another’s apartments, they already know one another a bit. Russ has started to make Martin a few meals and leaves behind recipes for him to try, while Martin habitually tidies Russ’ apartment. And while some of the changes aren’t exactly appreciated, neither man can ignore how intriguing they find the other. It allows for the charming development of their relationship. Martin is socially awkward and shy, but with Russ we see his nurturing and caring side surface and they’re definitely a sweet couple. We don’t get to see many details of their couplehood, which is disappointing, but there’s enough to give them a believable and realistic foundation.
The author does a good job of building the story and setting up the framework to set a solid pace and resolution. Really my only complaint about How the Other Half Lives is how short it is. I do think this story could have benefited from a bit more fleshing out and definition. I say this only because once Martin and Russ meet, their relationship feels someone rushed. It doesn’t affect my enjoyment on the whole, but I was left feeling like the book needed just a shade a more support.
Overall How the Other Half Lives was a wonderful and creative approach to a well-known genre. It’s original and sweet and it’s easy to like both Martin and Russ. Its’ really an excellent example of opposites attracting and I definitely recommend it!
Note: A copy of this book is one of the prizes in our Opposites Attract Week Giveaway. Be sure to check it out for a chance to win this book and other great prizes!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.