Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas || Book Review [mild spoilers]



I wouldn't usually write an individual review for a book like this. It was released in 2018 so not hugely backlisted but not current in anyway, it's not hugely spoken about online, and I didn't have any overwhelming feelings about it - good or bad. But it's a book in a genre that I never usually read, and despite my overall neutral thoughts toward it, it's definitely stayed on my mind since I turned the final page. So.. let's write about Birthday Girl and see what we get.

Birthday Girl is a duel narrative smutty romance that revolves around Jordan, a 19-year-old girl who is beyond down on her luck. She works at a bar that she isn't legal to drink at to try and get her head above water moneywise, her boyfriend is a deadbeat who drinks too much and often lets her down, and she has just been kicked out of her apartment that she shared with him because he threw a party that got out of hand resulting in them both moving in with her boyfriends dad, Pike. 

Pike has your average day-to-day life. He works, eats, and sleeps. In an attempt to rekindle his relationship with his son, he invites both him and his girlfriend, Jordan, to stay while they get back on their feet. '

The only problem is Pike and Jordan met before they knew that someone in common, and they started to fall for each other. Can you live in the same house with someone who is off limits but seems to be your better half?

Let's kick this off by discussing the characters. I really liked Jordan as our main female, she was strong-willed and mature while not being unrealistically perfect. She had lapses in judgement that sometimes made me want to shake the girl, but otherwise she was alright. Pike, on the other hand, was an absolute joy. He made me laugh and I really enjoyed how Luke Danes'y he was. Though I'm not usually a fan of duel perspectives in books, I found it oddly calming in this one. It was nice to have the opportunity to see where both the characters were thought-wise and not have the dreaded miscommunication trope happen where the author keeps you guessing about one characters intentions.

The pacing of Birthday Girl lost me at times. The last quarter seemed to go through a midlife crisis and I was growing more and more confused at how the author was going to wrap everything up with the little pages I had left when the story was literally in chaos. I wish either the plot had taken the direction it had sooner in the novel, or I wish that the book had been a smidge longer. I liked where the characters had ended up, but the writing became a little telling rather than showing.

Problems wise, there really wasn't anything other than what I mentioned above. I think one could argue that the strip club aspect of the novel could've been done better, especially in regards to the way that the two main characters act towards the idea. It's a little narrowly viewed, both of them seeming to constantly look down on both the place and the women that work there, despite the fact that Jordan's sister is a stripper. However, I can't truly comment on that not having personal experience with it. It merely read a little closed-minded to me.

Lastly, this book is pushed as taboo as, obviously, sexing it up with your boyfriends father isn't exactly ethical. However, this read way more like a slow burn romance between two people who have a notable age gap. There isn't actual cheating between the two main characters, so unless emotional cheating is a trigger for you, this story is fairly honest as a romance novel. Did I want it to be a little more taboo? Maybe, as that's what I went in expecting, but instead it came across as kinda.... sweet? I was rooting for the main duo like I used to root for couples when reading questionable Fanfiction at 3am. In fact, that's what this book read like, very good Fanfiction. And I mean that as a true compliment. This story was addictive and the characters, though predictable and nothing new, were likeable.

All in all, I had fun reading this book and am definitely interested in picking up more by Penelope Douglas. Any recommends? Let 'em below! 

Keep safe,


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