This book is smack dab in the middle of the scale for me. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. It was okay.

If you’re a long time Penelope Ward fan, the plot is a familiar one: heroine falls for the hero but hero is reluctant to commit because of a big secret. The familiarity isn’t a knock on Ms. Ward talent as a writer because for one, she does this type of story really well. And two, Ms. Ward definitely knows how keep her readers invested in the story.

My issue is that Neighbor Dearest kind of felt like a cheap knock-off of Jake Undone. It’s basically the same set up where the heroine falls for the hero and they have the connection but hero won’t go beyond friends with the heroine because he’s harboring some dark secret. That’s basically Jake Undone. The only difference is the nature of their secret. And the characters, unlike in Jake Undone, were uninteresting apart from Chelsea who I really, really liked and really sympathized with. They’re not bad; they’re just bland. Damian particularly is no different from Jake or Elec or other Penelope Ward heroes I’ve read before.

Despite my issues, I really did enjoy this book. I liked Chelsea’s earnestness. I liked that the author made me sympathize with her. And like most of Ms. Ward’s books, Neighbor Dearest was easy to read. It some some funny moments as well as the requisite angsty ones. But other than that, there’s nothing in this book that really elevates it above other books out there.