Iris couldn’t wait to get out of the small Maine town where she grew up and coming back now feels like a failure. Moving back into her parents’ home and into her childhood bedroom is not the plan she had for herself, but Iris starts to feel a little better when she sees Jude next door.
Jude was four years ahead of Iris in school and they never interacted much. Jude is also now back in town living in her parents’ home, but no one in town knows the real reason she returned. Jude likes the solitude and hauling lobster in the early morning hours alone suits her just fine, until she is tempted by the sight of Iris next door.
The two bond slowly over shared moments and, while Jude knows she can’t give Iris a relationship, a fling until Iris leaves town again sounds great. But both of them know there is more between them, they just have to first admit it to themselves and then each other.
The Girl Next Door is an easy and slow-moving book and, for me, it was too slow. While Jude and Iris both had the promise of being interesting characters, there wasn’t nearly enough depth behind them and their story went around and around too long for me.
Iris is back in town after losing her job in Boston. Jude has also been back in town for a couple years and she keeps to herself. Jude is also said to be a leather-jacket wearing, motorcycle-riding character, but that just feels like an on-page description and simply saying Jude wore a leather jacket and rode a motorcycle didn’t add anything to building her character. We are given small pieces of the story of why Jude is back in town, involving an ex and heartbreak, but it takes a long time to get the full story. And, for as long as it took to get the story and for how much we are told it impacted Jude’s life, the emotion we are told she is showing did not come through at all and it was all rather bland for me.
The story is one of building friendship between the women and the story did accomplish that. While we are told the characters are attracted to each other, there wasn’t that chemistry radiating off of them to build upon throughout the book for a romantic connection. The emotion largely stayed flat for me and the love felt like just words without really translating off the page.
This story may appeal to readers that do like that small town romance with a girl next door. I do like books that have deeper character building and emotion that you can feel and this didn’t do that for me.
A note on the cover: If this book appeals to you and you purchase based on the appeal of the cover, I would try to overlook this one. The cover models do not look anything like the characters are described, especially Jude. For me, it has a caregiver and a child feel more than a romance and I do not feel that this cover does anything to sell this book.