The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka follows the story of Katrina and Nathan, a pair of novel writers who previously wrote together as partners until one something happened at during a writer’s retreat that changed their relationship – personal and professional – forever. Sounds dramatic, but such are romance novels. The book alternates between Katrina and Nathan’s points of view, with flashbacks to the events leading up to the disastrous end of their partnership.
In present time, Katrina and Nathan have one more book under contract as partners. Nathan, who was still writing solo, was not having much success without Katrina. As someone who lived on the page, he needed the success of another novel with his partner to support his career. Katrina however, gave up writing after her and Nathan’s partnership blew up. She became somewhat of a recluse and held off from any sort of writing. She became engaged to Chris, who represented Katrina and Nathan once upon a time. As he was still Katrina’s agent, Chris pushed Katrina to consider writing this one last novel. Though Katrina was hesitant, she agreed to save her relationship with Chris.
The events of Katrina and Nathan’s tumultuous relationship hovers over the entire story, which then kind of drags the story on to the point where I became desperate to understand what happened between them. As any seasoned contemporary romance reader could guess, someone caught feelings where they may or may not have been reciprocated, causing the blow up. Katrina and Nathan had an intuitive professional relationship where they bounced off each other very well. They were also friends, which is one way things started to get complicated. After spending a lot of time together in Key Largo on a writing retreat to write their next book, through the flashbacks, its clear feelings were brewing. However, those feelings got complicated as one of them was married at the time.
Common Themes + Opinions:
This book, despite being a romance novel, centered on Katrina and her shutting down after she and Nathan broke off their partnership. She became depressed and no longer found writing purposeful for her, and where she feared going to bookstores to not get recognized. Not even planning her wedding to Chris brought her joy. She felt pressured by Chris to write this last novel with Nathan, mostly due to Chris’ poor financial choices, as a way to save their relationship. As the story progresses, I realized Chris was a douche (shocker) who cared more about his career than he did Katrina. Despite feeling like it was pure torture, the writers retreat she embarked on with Nathan one last time to write this book became a moment of clarity. It reminder her that she loved to write, and that the fears she was withholding of not being good enough or not living up to her talents were both valid and needed to be challenged. By the end of the book, Katrina was sure of what she wanted and was less afraid to go after it.
On Nathan’s side, he had a real problem communicating his feelings. Nathan relied a lot on his writing to get things off his chest. His fail safe was to use fictional characters to portray the feelings he was feeling, instead of vocalizing them himself. Nathan was scared to be vulnerable with the people he cared about our of fear of rejection. Like Katrina, he ends up realizing that despite being scared, its worth challenging the fears and do the hard thing of being vocal about his feelings.
Final Thoughts + Ratings:
The Roughest Draft was indeed rough to read. As mentioned, the catastrophic event was dragged on in the book, to the point where I became frustrated and felt that the reveal fell flat. Given how the story progresses, you can correctly assume what happened between them early on in the story. Aside from that, this was a great story that dives into partnerships, potential infidelity, unspoken feelings and fears, and managing anxiety and depression. Katrina’s worries felt so real, and it was nice to see the emotional side of things from a man’s perspective that also felt real.
Overall, I give The Roughest Draft four stars as Katrina and Nathan were well written characters with a complex story. There wasn’t much spice going on in this book, so if that’s what you’re after, this book may not be for you.
Have you read The Roughest Draft? Let me know your thoughts!