Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.
While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
I’ve had Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s adult contemporary romance debut, The Roughest Draft, was on my TBR since its January 2022 debut. I kind’ve saved this one until this spring/warmer weather because this book’s cover just screams summer, with the two main characters lounging in the pool and writing – however, I do agree now with some reviews that I saw that this book isn’t as light and fluffy as it cover seems.
The Roughest Draft alternates between the first person perspectives of Nathan and Katrina, a bestselling author duo who haven’t spoken in four years after writing their latest book together. Within those four years, Nathan has gone on to publish a book independently (without much success) and Katrina has retired from writing and moved to LA with her fiancé, who also happens to be her agent. As a PR move for the duo, Nathan and Katrina’s team convinces them to reconvene in the same house in Florida where they wrote their first book to finish out their contract. The duo has to not only figure out how to write with another again, but also confront what led them to split up as a team in the first place.
There was just something missing about The Roughest Draft that is ultimately making it a meh romance read for me. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know that I LOVED Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s first two YA books, Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest. However, I had similar feelings with The Roughest Draft and one of their newer YA books, What’s Not to Love, in that there was something just missing in the two main characters’ relationship development.
Before I get into the cons of this book, I will say that I did like the setting and the premise – it is so unique to what’s being published in contemporary romance right now and it is pretty meta to have a (married) author duo witting about another author duo. I also liked how it gave a behinds the scenes look on publishing, such as the editing/revision timeline and PR side of things.
Ultimately, I just didn’t understand the chemistry between Nathan and Katrina. I think the book between its cover and synopsis presents itself as a enemies-to-lovers with some lightness and humor, but there really was not much humor and a look at Katrina and Nathan’s relationship outside of their writing (which I now find more ironic considering that Katrina wants a relationship that doesn’t necessarily include such a focus on her career/writing). There are a ton of parallels between Katrina & Nathan and the book that they’re writing, but I think their own relationship development needed to be unpacked through more dialogue. The Roughest Draft’s storytelling was confusing with the flashbacks and present day, especially since the setting was the same. Nathan and Katrina’s perspective also blended into one another – it was hard to distinguish between who was narrating. The book’s climax in the present day occurs at the same time as the past’s climax, but I wish their split was addressed earlier in the book. I think so much more could’ve been unpacked, such as Katrina’s anxiety and her retirement from writing.
Overall, The Roughest Draft had a ton of potential based on its premise, but it just didn’t deliver for me. I am curious to check out this author duo’s next adult fiction release to see how it may differ from this one – for some reason, I just don’t want to give up on their books just yet.
Have you read The Roughest Draft? What are your thoughts? Have you read Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s books? Share in the comments!