When college freshman Shane Hahn gets moved to a new dorm room, he ends up living with upperclassman Derek McClain. Shane isn’t quite sure what to make of Derek at first, with his motorcycle, ever present toothpick in his mouth, and the rumor that he makes leather bondage gear on the side.
As he gets to know Derek, however, Shane finds him quite alluring. Derek is smart and confident, with much more independence than Shane gets from his stifling parents. They barely consider what Shane wants out of college or out of life. They have things planned out exactly how they want them and nothing Shane says or does can make them care about what he really wants. While he dreams of being a music major, playing in a band, and having his guitar at school, his parents are determined to see him study economics and keep an extra activities to a minimum.
When Shane’s parents see Derek, they are sure he is a bad influence on their son and want him to move out of the room. But as Shane spends more time with Derek, he finds himself feeling more than friendship. Shane has never had any interest in guys (though his interest in girls has been pretty paltry), but somehow Shane finds himself attracted to Derek and fantasizing about the bondage gear Derek sells. Shane surprises himself but taking the first step with Derek and soon the guys are exploring both a sexual and romantic relationship, the first time with a man for both of them.
As the semester continues, the pressure from Shane’s parents continues to build, however. They are critical of his grades, controlling about what he studies, and dismissive of his desires. Shane has found happiness with Derek and dreams of a future life at school where he can really be himself. But his parents aren’t interested in seeing him grow and change, and they just may prevent him from ever really getting the life he wants.
The Roommate Situation is a really enjoyable coming of age story and Shane is a great POV character. Rider really gives us a young man who feels like a college freshman, someone right on the cusp of independence but who is still finding his way. We see his wonder and excitement at his first sexual experiences. We also follow along as he finally starts to push back against his stifling parents, realizing how much of his life is dictated by them and how little regard they have for what he really wants. And we see him learn about himself and his needs and desires and the person he really wants to be. It is so nicely done and, as I said, Rider really captures Shane as a young man on the verge of adulthood and getting his life together.
Aside from the issue of Shane’s controlling parents, the book also focuses on his growing relationship with Derek. Rider really handles this deftly, from Shane’s first awareness of his attraction to Derek, to the development of their physical and emotional relationship. Neither man has ever had an interest in other men before, so they are both exploring new territory. I enjoyed seeing Shane’s awakening as he realizes his feelings for Derek, first sexual and later emotional. Shane has a bit of a bondage kink that the guys explore and they are super hot together. But Derek is also a source of support and stability, someone who already has his life together and who knows what he wants. I loved how he gives Shane the confidence to stand up for himself, to think about what he wants out of life, and to find a way to have it. They are really sweet together, not to mention sexy, and I really enjoyed watching the growth of their relationship.
I think my only real criticism here is that the story runs quite long and at times just felt a bit too drawn out. It is clear Rider knows where the story is headed and there are not tons of extraneous scenes or subplots. All the elements fit really nicely into the story, it just takes a really long time to get there. Then we hit the ending conflict and everything is resolved so fast my head was spinning. For a book where every element is developed in such detail, the ending felt rushed and barely tied together before we were at the end of the book. So I think the pacing here really could have been improved to keep the story moving and to give us a more developed resolution. That said, I never found myself bored and I really enjoyed the story a lot.
So I really liked The Roommate Situation and thought it was a lot of fun. I love a good young love, coming of age story, and this book totally fits the bill. Shane and Derek are really likable and I loved seeing them explore their new relationship and feelings for one another. I also was happy to see Shane grow over the course of the book to someone who knows what he wants and is willing to work to have it. This one is a lot of fun and a really enjoyable story.