House Rules is the third in Ruby Lang's Uptown series, and while I haven't read the first two, I had no problem reading this one as a standalone. The story is a fast-paced second chance romance with likable characters and witty dialogue. The angst is pretty low overall, and I like that the author doesn't throw a lot of drama at us just for the sake of adding drama to the story. Simon and Lana do have good chemistry, and they're an easy couple to root for. Simon is just adorable with the way he overthinks things, and Lana is still coming into her own despite her age. Fun romances are harder and harder to find when they feature characters who don't fall into the new adult category. For those of us who are also past that new adult stage, it's refreshing to find such a story, and this one is a fun read. So, if you're looking for an engaging romance in a fairly quick read, this is one to check out.
House Rules by Ruby Lang Uptown #3 Meeting the man you were once married to after seventeen years apart could put a damper on your day or perhaps a spark in your eye. Simon and Lana do meet again at an open house while looking for an apartment to rent in NY. They chat a bit, realize they won’t see one another again and go on their merry way only to end up in the same apartment as roommates. They have rules to follow, a gorgeous place to stay, their own jobs, a rescue cat and increasing difficulty not acting on those embers that that are being fanned from their past relationship. This is a second chance romance with a couple in their forties given the chance to see whether or not they might be able to get it right this time around. What I liked: * Both are more mature than they were seventeen years before...mostly more mature * Muffin – the cat * The way friends and family are supportive and play a part in the story * The lack of major drama as they get back together * Lana – she has made a vow to herself that she will be honest and ask for what she needs/wants – and that is what she does. Also admired her for finding what made her happy and not remaining in a situation that made her unhappy. * Simon – a bit set in his ways and not one to embrace change easily but he does want to embrace Lana * The communication between Lana and Simon What I didn’t like: * Sometimes Simon was not as open as I would have liked for him to be and perhaps a bit self centered Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 3-4 Stars
Lana Kai is back from culinary school and needs a place to settle that is convenient and near her work - a cook. She found the perfect spot, but space and rent were too much for her to shoulder alone. Lana was in a bind and needs to find a place soon to take on a great job. In comes the most unlikely person that could solve her problem - her ex-husband, Simon, who she bumped into an open house viewing. Simon Mizrahi is a music teacher and has lived at his apartment for as long as he could remember - (maybe) too long. He is still under a rent control apartment dilapidating faster than the economy recovers from the Asian Crisis. House Rules might sound light and easy, but it's anything but. Coming into the book, the main characters of Simon and Lana have a lot between them. Their familiarity, past union, and knowing more about each other than anyone outside sharing space and proximity can turn out into a big revelation or disaster. Some heavy topics mentioned in the book, like fertility, self-worth, self-love, forgiveness, acceptance, etc., all rolled into sixteen chapters that may trigger some, so take this as a disclosure. I love the internal conflicts between Lana and Simon. Their relationship kept developing even after being separated for years. They grew separately then now, maturing together as roomies. I appreciate the author showing us that second chances do not discriminate between age or culture when two people are right for each other. Simon and Lana have tried being together early in their youth, but the relationship did not work. They got a divorce, and Lana moved worlds apart. As a result, to pursue her passion and find herself. You would think that Lana would have been happy and stayed where she was, out of the country, and find her happiness with someone else. That wasn't it for this book. Lana and Simon have their chemistry intact and steady after many years. They met and got married early but lost themselves as a couple. They know deep down that they were each other's "soulmates," but the timing was off. They needed to grow separately to be perfect for each other. How they found their way back to each other is a cute and endearing story after all these years. I am frustrated with Simon. He did not realize that he has a strained relationship with his sister, Maxine, because of his "inflexible" mindset. He is a focused individual and expects the same from the people around him. Simon, being a perfectionist with a reasonably closed mindset, has caused his relationships to suffer or strain. Unfortunately, no one told him about it until late into his 40s; else, he could have salvaged so many things. Lana was lovely! I liked her - A LOT! In the face of thing was imploding nearing the end, Lana's newfound confidence and conviction enabled her to stay positive. It did not distract her into self-pity with what happened and instead made her accept that things can go wrong. She was able to set everything into perspective and stir her back to the positives. In summary, House Rules is my most favorite book in the Uptown series by the author. I love second chance themes, but more so, if characters come back and grow and mature to prove they will be in the relationship in the long haul this time around. There has to be a "separation period" to find themselves than to lose their identity as a couple. I love how Lana found the strength to pull herself out of an unsatisfying situation, made changes for her betterment, and found a way to come back and realize the good in what she left behind (that it was undeniable and meant-to-be). She makes others around her do the same - constantly leaping to self-improvement each day.