BXTCHES Gotta Warn: Before I issue any warning, I would like to just close my eyes and say a quick “thank you” to Penelope Ward for that fuck hot cover. That cover envelops everything that is Damien. . .well done, Penelope, well done. Okay, this is certainly a stand-alone novel that requires ZERO pre-requisite reading. However, I do feel obligated to tell you BXTCHES the following. Back in September 2014, Penelope Ward released Step-Brother Dearest (find my thoughts, here) and our book boyfriend in those pages was Elec. Our leading lady in Neighbor Dearest is Chelsea. . .keep following me, I’m getting there. In Elec’s book, we met Chelsea when Elec arrived with her on his arm, for the funeral of his “father” (read the book, you’ll understand the quotes). I’m not sure if you’ve read Step-Brother Dearest. . .it’s not necessary for this particular book. . .however, I recommend it. . .I recommend it so hard, and I should go ahead and tell you, because you will find out before you even turn the first page, Elec is Chelsea’s ex, and this book picks up (in the prologue) several weeks after Elec returns from his father’s funeral. Now that you have been adequately warned, let’s get on with it.
Neighbor Dearest will be told solely through the POV of Chelsea.
Like I said, the prologue kicks in several weeks after Elec returns home from his father’s funeral and it doesn’t take much for Chelsea to realize that things just aren’t right. Sex is non-existent, his kisses hold no passion, it’s just all off. So, while it was no surprise that Elec ends things, it doesn’t make the blow any less painful. Not only did Elec and Chelsea live together, but they also worked together, so while Elec heads back east to be with Greta, Chelsea packs up and moves away from the physical space she and Elec shared, however, she is unable to pack up the emotional space that resides in her heart.
When Chelsea’s younger sister, Jade, comes to visit, she gets an eyeful of Chelsea’s very hot, but also very much of an asshole, neighbor Damien. Chelsea doesn’t know much about Damien other than the fact that he is spray painting a mural on the side of the building and he has two large dogs that believe the morning time is the best time for incessant barking. After Jade tries to convince Chelsea that maybe she should bake the hot neighbor in the beanie some muffins, while offering up her very own muffin, Chelsea soon finds out another quirky trait of the brooding artist. . .his hearing is fucking outstanding.
Chelsea is having a very difficult time getting over Elec. I mean, she believed that he was the one, you know-her eternal. In order to guide her into making some sense of her personal life, Chelsea has taken up phone therapy once a week, unbeknownst to Chelsea, there is a hole in one of her walls, one of the walls that she happens to share with her neighbor, Damien. And wouldn’t you know, the hottie has heard way more of her personal life than any neighbor, asshole or not, should. The silver lining. . .Damien gives her advice that she needs to hear and not a dime has to come out of her account to get it.
A little info on Damien. He lost his father at a pretty early age (him and his father) to a heart attack. I should probably clarify, he was young when he lost his father and his father was young when he lost his life. That death affected his family (him, a brother, Tyler, and his mom) in very different ways. His mom closed herself off and suffers (present tense) from severe bouts of depression. His brother Tyler is an actor, getting along great and Damien actually made a shit ton of money in the technology industry and invested it in an apartment building. . .the very one that he and Chelsea reside in. He figures that it’s important to live each day to the fullest, because tomorrow is never promised.
Chelsea and Damien made a tiny breakthrough with the “free therapy” offered via a hole in the wall, that progress takes a giant leap forward when Damien’s dogs attack a “bacon marinated” Chelsea and even more strides are made later when Chelsea almost burns down her apartment. Don’t worry, Damien saves the day.
After sharing a meal with Damien, Chelsea finds out that the “double D’s” (Damien’s dogs) are his dogs with his ex, Jenna and they actually share custody. She also discovers that Damien broke it off with the ex because they each envisioned a different future, hers included marriage and kids, his didn’t. That little nugget of information tells Chelsea that Damien may be fun to look at and hang with, but it won’t go any further than that. And that is how their friendship begins.
And talk about a friendship, Damien even sets up a dating profile for Chelsea so she can get back in the game and it doesn’t take long for Chelsea to go days without a single thought being devoted to Elec, so progress. There’s not much more I can reveal, but it’s obvious to everyone that the sexual tension between Chelsea and Damien is blindingly thick and one begins to wonder “why?”. Why is Damien being so aloof when it comes to his feelings for Chelsea? I think as the reader, you’re gonna figure it out, but the highway of turmoil that both Chelsea and Damien travel down is worth the trip, just make sure to buckle up.
As far as the supporting cast in Neighbor Dearest, they’re present, very well written, and certainly important to Chelsea and Damien’s story, but Chelsea and Damien are the focus. Which I know is obvious, but what I mean is the supporting characters are there without pulling focus away, I hope that makes sense. The important thing (I think anyhow) is it seems that Penelope Ward is laying down some roots for maybe future books that involve some of the ones that we sorta crush on in this book. Hint: this BXTCH is hopin’ for a little Tyler + Jade = the next “Dearest” book. Please and thank you in advance.
I have read five books by Penelope Ward (two of those are collaborations with Vi Keeland) and one thing I can be certain of when I turn on the ole’ e-reader is this. . .when her characters make the decision to get down to the business, you will not be disappointed and Neighbor Dearest was no exception. First, the sexual tension between Chelsea and Damien was enough to have a BXTCH fanning herself, take that up a notch by removing the clothes and this non-smoker (that’s me), may just need to light one up, because SHEE-IT, that woman knows how to choreograph some naked dancing. Again, thank you, Penelope Ward.
There is absolutely nothing I can find wrong with this book, I did think that Chelsea was hung up a bit too long on Elec, but it maybe was important for her end game with Damien, you know “I thought I had the best, until I actually HAD the best” type of thing. Even when Damien was putting on a perfect display of assholeness, you are going to love him. Everything was done right, from the heartache to the heartbreak. . .from the laughter to the tears. . .from the love to the hate. . .from Damien to Chelsea to the double D’s to Jenna. . .it all came together the way a perfect story does. Again, thank you, Penelope Ward.
Maybe you didn’t dive into Stepbrother Dearest because that type of relationship gives you a bit of the “no way”, even though it’s not really what you think it is, make sense? But, Neighbor Dearest is going to have you up all night reading, it will have you sneaking in a couple of pages waiting in the pick-up line at the elementary school, it may even have you “hushing” everyone around you because “MOMMA IS TRYING TO READ!!”, but however you find yourself losing sleep, it will be worth it. Trust this BXTCH!