Just One Year by Penelope Ward Review


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The beginning of my sophomore year in college was off to a rough start.

On the first day of orientation, I had an altercation with an infuriating British dude in a campus bathroom.

(The ladies’ room was out of order. So, I used the men’s room. Don’t judge.)

I got home later that night and realized that the foreign student we were expecting to rent a room in my parents’ house was allergic to our cat.

So, the spare room went to someone else: Caleb—the British guy from the men’s room.

And so it began…my love-hate story with Caleb Yates. Or was it hate-love in that order?

The guy knew how to push every one of my buttons.

Sometimes I’d email him to express my aggravation and disdain.

He’d actually rewrite my own words and send them back to me.

That was the type of infuriating person Caleb was.

So frustrating.


Sometimes incredibly funny and endearingly sweet.

And hot.

He eventually grew on me, and Caleb soon became one of my best friends that year.

Too bad he was headed back to England soon, so nothing could happen between us—for so many reasons.

I definitely couldn’t fall in love with him, especially since all we had was just one year.

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I’m a big fan of Penelope Ward’s, and I absolutely love her co-written novels with Vi Keeland. So it’s a given that if she writes it, I’m going to read it. I’ll be honest, though, I was nervous going into Just One Year. The YA and younger New Adult genres are my least favorite stories to read, and, with very few exceptions, I usually don’t read them at all. I just have a hard time connecting to such young characters, and I struggle with maturity levels as it relates to the development of the relationship or the plot. This is purely my own personal preference, and it boils down to the fact that there are other storylines, tropes and genres that I enjoy more and would rather read.

That being said, Penelope Ward is one of the exceptions to my rule, and in this case, I’m glad because I did enjoy Just One Year. A big part of the reason was because both the hero and the heroine were incredibly mature and thoughtful—character traits that were revealed early on in the story when they both made the wise choice to focus on being friends to avoid the inevitable heartbreak of Caleb’s departure at the end of the year.

A very slow burn romance, Teagan and Caleb’s relationship begins as a friendship, and I loved watching it grow and deepen. Caleb helps to draw the introverted genius, Teagan, out of her shell, and she brings Caleb’s tortured soul some desperately needed peace. There was definitely an attraction between them, but they stayed firmly in the friend-zone until they didn’t.

Emotional, angsty with a sweet, slow-building friends-to-lovers romance, Just One Year by Penelope Ward gets four smooches from me!

~Danielle Palumbo




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