cover image The Roughest Draft

The Roughest Draft

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. Berkley, $16 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-20193-0

Married coauthors Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka (Time of Our Lives) break from their usual YA rom-coms for a surprisingly bleak adult debut that’s light on both romance and comedy. Three years ago, Nathan Van Huysen and Katrina Freeling co-wrote the bestseller Only Once, which centered on an affair. Nathan was married at the time, and rumors about their art reflecting their lives drove Katrina to an early retirement and Nathan to tell the New Yorker that writing with Katrina was “torture.” But when Katrina’s literary agent turned fiancé, Chris, runs into financial trouble and Nathan’s solo book proposal is rejected, the pair reluctantly agree to work together again. They hole up in Florida and insult each other through drafting their new manuscript—until their true feelings reveal themselves on the page. The prose is rather pedestrian for how loftily both characters discuss literature, and the alternating timeline between their work on the new novel and their collaboration on Only Once adds little. Most rom-com readers will object to the emotional affair between Katrina and Nathan while Nathan was married, and the pretentious, privileged Nathan and self-involved Katrina do little to redeem themselves. This literary spin on Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story aims for bittersweet, but lands on depressing. Agent: Katie Shea Boutillier, Donald Maass Literary. (Jan.)