Review of The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron. Carina Adores. 2020.


Note: This review is part of the Blog Tour for The Girl Next Door

This is one of the first books released in Carina’s new Adores line, which is focused on contemporary romances where LGBTQIAP+ characters get happy endings. This line of books has a bunch of my favorite authors in the initial line-up, including Cole McCade, Elia Winters, and Roan Parrish, and I’m looking forward to reading more titles and getting a sense of what this version of queer category romance might be like.

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The Girl Next DoorThis is a small town neighbors to lovers slow burn romance, and despite the darkness in Jude’s central arc, it’s fairly light in tone and rather cozy in it’s approach. If you have enjoyed other f/f contemporary romances by Cameron, chances are that you will also like this one, which has the added bonus of a very adorable dog. It’s more rooted in it’s Maine small town setting than some of her other books, which felt like a real strength to me, particularly as the author is from Maine. 

I’m not sure I’d call this a butch/femme romance, though I can see that others might read that into it. Jude felt like she wasn’t fully claiming butchness for herself, and their flirtation didn’t have a butch/femme feel to it, for me. Iris didn’t quite feel like she was claiming femme identity, either, and it’s not named on the page. That said, Jude is emotionally reserved, has a lot of emotional armor, rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket, is described once as a lesbian James Dean, and leans more masc than Iris. I wished that the book would have committed to butch/femme, fully, or even to Jude’s butchness more fully. But then, I’m partial to that as a butch reader who rarely sees myself on the page.

The town and all the characters in it seemed to be white, and there was no sense that Iris’ life in Boston included folks of color. There is one immigrant character from Germany. This is common to small town romance, and a common thing in Cameron’s work, which often seems to be completely absent of characters of color.

The slow burn aspect of the story didn’t really work for me in terms of their sexual attraction; their chemistry wasn’t strong enough for it to be especially intense when they do finally come together. There is a late introduction of a sex pact–casual only–that is clearly doomed from the start.

What I really enjoyed was the the slow build of romantic attraction and connection between Jude and Iris, and the way Iris was really trying to respect Jude’s emotional armor. I loved all the bits about her doing design for Jude’s home, they were lovely and detailed and revealed so much about both characters. I definitely could feel the characters falling in love, was on board with them as a couple and loved all the quiet moments between them, the way they built that romantic relationship together, even though they didn’t admit to themselves or each other that they were building one until near the end. For me, this is where the book shines. Well, that, and Dolly Parton the dog, who was delightful.

I liked Iris’ arc around her career and figuring out what she wanted to do, coming to terms with returning home after college unable to make things work in the city or the non-profit world. For me, her arc around figuring out what to do next felt real and resonant, and was one of the stronger aspects of the story. Jude’s central arc felt hemmed in by the authorial choice to keep much of the backstory secret to enable a late reveal. I think it would have been a stronger book had the thing driving Jude’s choices not been kept a secret from the reader for much of the book. It worked okay, but I could glimpse the possibility of a stronger book underneath where it was upfront.

I enjoyed Iris’ relationship with her dad, especially the way they bonded over books, and liked watching her find other queers in town to connect with. I’d have preferred to not have the former bully reconciliation issue come up, as it didn’t get the space it needed to attend to it properly. It didn’t irritate me as much as it often does in queer romances because there was no sense that forgiveness or reconciliation was obliged or expected. I appreciated that.

Overall this was an enjoyable mostly cozy read, and felt quite a bit like what I imagine queer category romance might feel like. It’s consistent with my experience of Cameron’s work, and folks who are fans of her other f/f romances likely will enjoy it. Likewise, if this is up your alley, I recommend checking out her backlist! con


  • Lesbian white woman heroine.
  • Lesbian white woman trauma survivor heroine.
  • Queer white non-binary author.

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Central grief arc. References to former partner being killed in a car accident. References to parental queer antagonism. References to being bullied for being queer in high school; encountering former bully in adulthood and attempts at reconciliation. Alcohol use. Sex on the page.


  • Source of the book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
  • I am friends with the author on Twitter.
  • All links to Amazon will be affiliate ones. If you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money on that sale (which I plan to use to buy more books to review), but it will not add any to the cost of your product. It comes out of the company’s profits.

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