Title: The Boy Next Door
Author: Annabelle Costa
Published: December 2012 by Dev Love Press
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Amazon Freebie
Through middle school, high school, bad dates, and an ill-advised punk phase, Tasha has always been able to count on Jason. Since the day he moved in next door, he’s gone from the weird kid in a wheelchair to Tasha’s most trusted friend. But lives change and the friends are going in different directions. When Jason and Tasha rekindle their friendship, sparks fly. After years of being a wild soul, now the ex-lead of a band turned music teacher is just looking for a relationship to last.
When none other than Jason introduces her to a man who can give her what she wants, Tasha is on the verge of throwing passion and love away just so she can forget her troubled past and settle down. But Jason isn’t ready to give her up just yet.
I had a lot of trouble getting into this story. It’s a quick enough read, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.
I liked that Annabelle Costa took a chance on a disabled male lead instead of just rehashing the usual flawless romance lead stereotype. Aside from being paralyzed from mid chest down since the age of 5, Jason is also interestingly nerdy and kind of a pushover. He makes his own life needlessly difficult by sabotaging every single relationship he has while he pines over the girl he could never have.
Said girl is where this story started to lose me. I did not care for Tasha. She came across as spoiled, self obsessed and generally uncaring of others’ feelings. But she’s really pretty, so that’s supposed to make it all better. We know she’s really pretty because she keeps harping on this fact, thinking back longingly on having the pick of any guy in high school, and comparing herself to every one of Jason’s girlfriends and coming out roses.
I had some trouble believing that these two remained best friends for 20 years. When they were 8 and shared a love for Transformers, sure, but then they grew up. Tasha started dissing Jason in order to look better in front of the cool people. She refused to talk to him at school. She tried to hook up with his older brother. And through all this he just waits by like a faithful puppy hoping that one day she will notice the drool for what it really meant. Poster boy for friend-zoning.
I don’t know, I found myself wanting to smack these characters more than I rooted for them to have their happily ever after.
One of the things that really bothered me was how Tasha’s younger sister, Lydia was treated. A great deal of emphasis is put on how she was the ugly sister, the one who had to marry the first man she could find because her options would never get any better. The one who couldn’t even enjoy her engagement because her older, prettier (so pretty!) sister couldn’t stand the fact that Lydia might have something she couldn’t get. Even the grandmother called Lydia ugly and desperate. It all made me respect these characters just a little less.