Under One Roof
by Ali Hazelwood
Published by Berkley
Book 1 in the STEMinist Novellas
A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.
Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….
As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.
The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.
"A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion."
This was cute! I mean ... I don't really know what else to say about it. haha. The characters were adorkable. The situation they found themselves in was, if not totally realistic, was at least fun. The enemies to lovers trope was great, despite the fact that they were not really enemies. They were instantly attracted to one another. It became pretty obvious why her mentor had given Mara her the house - well, her half of the house. But the predictability didn't take away from what turned out to be a pretty cute novella that has all the Ali Hazelwood charm we have come to love.
If you are looking for a short read with all the fun, charm, romance and steam Ali Hazelwood brings to her books, you can't go wrong with this one. And look out for Loathe to Love you, coming out tomorrow, January 3rd, which contains this novella, plus the two other STEM-inist novellas.
Hannah: “If you don’t text us within half an hour,”
Hannah says in a dead-serious tone,
Hannah: “I’m going to assume that Big Oil Liam is holding you captive in his basement and call law enforcement.”
Mara: “Oh, don’t worry about that. Remember that kickboxing class I took in our third year? And that time at the strawberry festival, when I kicked the butt of the guy who tried to steal your pie?”
Hannah: “He was an eight-year-old boy, Mara. And you did not kick his butt—you gave him your own pie and a kiss on the forehead. Text in thirty, or I’m calling the cops.”
Memory: Helena: “Listen, you’re a brilliant young woman. And everyone loves redheads. Why don’t you just date one of the nerds in your cohort? Ideally the one who doesn’t smell like compost.”
Mara: “Because they’re all dicks who keep asking when I’ll drop out to go get a degree in home economics?”
Helena: “Mmm. That is a good reason.” Mara: “Liam, I’m trying here. Really trying to make this work. Do you ever stop and wonder if maybe you are being an asshole?”
This time he does look up. His eyes are so cold, my entire body shivers.
Liam: “I did try. Once. And right when I was on the verge of a breakthrough someone started blasting the Frozen soundtrack at full volume.”
Mara: “I was cleaning my room. I had no idea you were home.”
Email Mara is writing to the late Helena: The other day Sean, my team leader, spent thirty minutes explaining the contents of my own dissertation to me. I had very vivid fantasies about clocking him in the head and tiling his cadaver under my bathtub, but you probably already know all of this. You probably just sit around on a cloud all day being omniscient. Eating Triscuits. Occasionally playing the harp. You lazy bum. I should start dating again.
Should I start dating again?
Yeah. I should. Except that . . . men. No, thank you. Liam: “Mara.”
Liam: “You clearly are some kind of genius.”
Uh? Am I?
Mara: “Is this—are you—making fun of me?”
He looks dead serious and faintly offended at the idea.
Liam: “You’re basically a rocket scientist.”
Mara: “Basically being the operative word.”
Liam: “And Helena, who had ridiculous standards, chose you to work with her. You’re obviously remarkable.”
Oh God. Is this a compliment? Am I going to blush?
Mara: “Um . . . thanks?”
Liam: “What I don’t understand is, why is someone as smart as you watching this shit?”
I smile into my fried rice.
Mara: “You’ll see.” Liam:" “Is this because last night we watched Transformers?”
I look up. Liam, a soft smile on his face, is standing on the other side of the kitchen island, taking in the microwave oven parts I meticulously laid out over the marble countertop. I might have made a mess.
Mara: “It was either this or writing Optimus Prime fanfiction.”
Liam: “Good choice, then.”
Mara: “But also, your microwave isn’t working. I’m trying to fix it.”
Liam: “I can just buy a new one.”
His head tilts. He studies the components with a slight frown.
Liam: “Is this safe?”
Mara: “Are you asking because I’m a woman and therefore unable to do anything remotely scientific without causing radioactive pollution? Because if so, I—”
Liam: “I’m asking because I wouldn’t know where to start, and because I am so ignorant about anything remotely scientific that you could be building an atomic bomb and I wouldn’t be able to tell,”
he says calmly. As though he doesn’t even need to be defensive, because the idea that me being a puny-brained girl never even entered his mind.
Liam: “But you clearly can.”
Liam: “Please don’t build an atomic bomb.”
Mara: “Don’t tell me what to do.”
Liam: “I’ll make room for the plutonium in the cheese drawer.” Mara: “I have a Ph.D. I can pretend to kill bad guys using a . . . joystick?”
He shakes his head, but he looks . . . happy, I think.
Liam: “Have you ever played a video game?”
Mara: “Nope. Full disclosure, they look awful and I’m not sure why an obviously smart person with a bunch of Ivy League degrees that cost more than my internal organs would be so into this pew-pew crap, but I run a Bachelor blog, so I have no leg to stand on.”
Something occurs to me, and I gasp.
Mara: “You know what’s really shocking?”
Mara: “That Helena never tried to set us up. Like, you and me. Together.”
Liam: “Yeah, that’s—”
Liam falls silent abruptly, as though something occurred to him, too. He stares into the middle distance for a moment and then lets out a low, deep laugh.
He doesn’t answer me. So I repeat,
Mara: “Liam? What?”
Liam: “I just realized that . . .”
He shakes his head, amused.
Liam: “Nothing, Mara.”
I want to insist till he explains what revelation he appears to have reached, but he puts a controller in my hand and says,
Liam: “Let’s play.” Mara: “I clearly deserve to choose what to watch on TV tonight.”
Liam: “You choose what to watch on TV every night.”
Mara: “But tonight I actually deserve it.” Sadie: “Men were a mistake,”
Hannah: “Big mistake,”
I sink deeper into the living room couch, wondering if Liam, my personal mistake, will come home tonight. It’s already past nine. Maybe he’s out for dinner. Maybe, if he has something to celebrate, he’ll sleep elsewhere. At Emma’s, perhaps.
Sadie: “Sometimes they’re useful,”
Sadie points out.
Sadie: “Like that guy with a Korn T-shirt who helped me open a jar of pickled radishes in 2018.”
Maria: “Oh yeah.”
Mara: “I remember that.”
Sadie: “Hands down my most profound experience with a man.”
Mara: “In hindsight, you should have asked him to marry you.”
Sadie: “A missed opportunity.”