romantic journey of co-authors
Review,  Romance

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka – romantic journey of co-authors

The Roughest Draft is an interesting romantic journey of co-authors with beautiful writing and forced proximity arc.

romantic journey of co-authors

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka

Publication Date : January 25th 2022

Publisher : Berkley Books

Pages : 336

Genre : Romance

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for free e-copy via NetGalley.


They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.


romantic journey of co-authors with beautiful writing

The Roughest Draft is interesting romance journey of two writers, Nathan and Katrina, who fell out of partnership just when their best-selling book fly off the shelves but when they are forced to write one last book of the contrast, they find their way back to each other and love. The story is about a writing journey, accepting feelings, finding a way towards happiness without fearing the uncertainty, anxiety and fear of success, friendship, and love.

I have mixed feelings for this book. I was really excited for this as I saw glowing reviews and forced proximity arc. With this arc, I was expecting a bit of drama, banter, and fun but this turned out different from what I expected.

Plot is interesting. I liked the concept and idea of the book. Once best friends and exceptional writing duo fell apart as their feelings for each other changed while writing their best-selling book. They couldn’t stand each other after finishing the book, didn’t even attend events or book signing together. In fact, Katrina takes retirement from writing and gets engaged with their previous agent, (now only her agent) Chris, while Nathan writes his solo book but it doesn’t get as much popularity as their co-authored book and the publisher don’t want another of his solo book. As Nathan and Katrina didn’t finish their contract of one more book, publisher suggest they work together. With no other option, both are forced to write one more book in Florida house where they written their best selling book.

What made me stick to the book is Writing. It is most amazing, beautiful, the kind you find in literary fiction that makes you get lost in words. The narration is first person, alternative POV of Nathan and Katrina. Most of the book is written in present but there is intermittent past chapters telling what happened four years ago when they were writing their best selling book and what made them fall apart along with how their feelings developed during the time.

All this writing process took place under one roof of Florida house where they have lots of history, with forced proximity, hot weather, and now characters’ frosty feelings for each added it’s own effect to the plot making it interesting.

Another best part is the characters’ writing journey. I enjoyed reading how they met, how their partnership started, their style of work, what exactly is like to work as co-author, pros and cons of writing in partnership, how they made it work. I liked the way author compared writing journey in partnership to marriage and characters very much behaved that way. They brought out best in each other, fought and bickered like couple over use of word, format or where they want to lead their characters and book, what part they don’t disagree and how they resolved the matter.

Curiosity also got better of me. I wanted to know what exactly happened between them. We get a glimpse in initial chapters that Nathan was married, their feelings changed while writing their book, there are rumors they had affair which lead to end of their partnership and Nathan’s marriage. We also see what hurt them most, Katrina burning pages and Nathan’s cutting remark in interview BUT even with all these things there still wasn’t a clear picture what exactly happened. I was curious to know if those rumors are true, if they really had affair, did Nathan cheat, what pages Katrina burnt that hurt Nathan and why.

I found Nathan sensible, developed, and smart but that too I discovered a little late. For first half of the book I didn’t exactly had any opinion about him but second half made me like him more and more and I found myself agreeing with what he said. What he did after their fallout made sense. I loved him for staying true to himself and with others about his feelings. He has been honest from the beginning. His guilt for his wife (now ex), his feelings on how divorce affected him, and what it was like to write without his writing partner is realistic and well written. I liked he poured his feelings into his writing and his characters. The way he made Katrina realize fiction isn’t entirely fiction as it also comes from reality.

I loved Harriet who was most reasonable and honest person in story after Nathan. She brought breath of fresh air and I liked her for showing both Nahan and Katrina what a dick they have been to each other and that too for a silly reason.

Why 3.5 stars

What frustrated me most is I got the answers of questions I had almost after 60% of the book. I also didn’t really like Katrina. I didn’t care about the romance that came at 70% of the book. Both plot and romance is too slow for my taste.

(slight spoiler, just a hint but you won’t get it if you haven’t read the book. Skip this part if you’re reading this book soon)

Katrina is hard to get and understand. I’m sorry to say but I didn’t feel for her. I get she kind of going through depression and anxiety but it wasn’t apparent. I could see that in her reluctance to publicity, refusing to attend events, hiding from rumors, not going for book signing, not confronting situations or negative feelings but I couldn’t see why or what triggered it. I thought it was all because of what happened with Nathan but that wasn’t the case either and when I finally read why she burnt the page, it blew my mind like it did Nathan’s. Some explanations is given for her fears like she was middle child and all but I didn’t find it enough. I don’t get why one would run away from happiness and why nobody tell her nothing is everlasting.

Another reason I didn’t like is, she went after Christ just as soon as her partnership with Nathan ended. She let Chris manipulate her to write another book with Nathan. Moreover, readers and even she could see Chris is with her only because she was best selling author and he even gave permission to fuck Nathan if that means she writes another best selling book with him. So, for most of the book my impression for her was, either she is weak or stupid. She blamed Nathan for her shattered dream when he wasn’t exactly at fault here. I also disagree on what she said about Nathan not voicing his feelings and turning it into fiction. I don’t see anything wrong with it as everyone has a different way of communicating, not everyone is comfortable with everything like she is not comfortable with idea of happiness and dream coming true.

Overall, The Roughest Draft is an interesting story of writing duo and their journey with beautiful writing and forced proximity arc.

I recommend this if you like,
character-driven story
book about writing journey
book about co-author and how they work together
slow-burning romance
slow pace
Layer of anxiety

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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