#ReadWithMC Reviews 'The Spare Room'

"As some of my favorite drag queens would say... I am gooped and gagged by this recent pub!"

The spare room book cover split image with Andrea Bartz headshot overlaid on black and white grid with ReadWithMC stamp
(Image credit: Future)

For July's #ReadWithMC pick, it's only fitting we dove into a steamy thriller. It is one of the hottest months of the year, after all. So, we picked up The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz, and let's just say it took us on a totally unexpected ride. Bartz's latest thriller follows a thirty-something named Kelly, who, after having just broken up with her fiance, decides to take up an offer from a high school friend to stay in her and her husband's spare room. Charmed by their gorgeous Virginia mansion and Sabrina and Nathan's titillating relationship, Kelly is pulled into a sexy, yet unexpected threesome with her hosts which turns into an all-out relationship. Trouble in paradise quickly ensues, however, when Kelly discovers she hasn't been the only one allowed into Sabrina and Nathan's relationship and the last woman to do so is currently missing. 

While we don't want to spoil anything, we will say that this story has a ton of twists and turns, which is what our #ReadWithMC readers loved. Writing to Bartz, @readbyjules wrote, "Everything I thought I knew was wrong because as the Queen of Plot Twists, you pumped the brakes SEVERAL times and did a complete U-turn on me and my assumptions." Another reader, @no_readgret, was also caught totally off-guard by this thriller and wrote, "The twists —WOW. Just when I thought we were done with shocking moments they just kept coming." 

Also unexpected in The Spare Room was the level of spiciness, but seemingly readers ate it up. In their four-star review, @waggingwithwords added, "There were some seriously spicy scenes that I was NOT expecting." @readbyjules also addressed the sexiness of this book adding to Bartz, "I'm here for any spicy book that you decide to bless us with because YOU ARE ON TO SOMETHING." It's safe to say #ReadWithMC readers enjoyed this juicy, twister thriller, to say the least. 

Each month, we gather up the reviews of our virtual book club members so anyone else looking for their next great read has a collection of recommendations. Here's what #ReadWithMC readers had to say about The Spare Room

"The pups said there is no spare room here. **This book was wild but I dug it. It was chaos, claustrophobic and hot. I had no idea where this was going. The characters were unreliable. It was a unique thriller.

Kelly and her fiancé get into an argument during the pandemic and she decides to go stay with a woman she knew from high school and her husband. Her friend is a writer. Kelly loves her writing and sometimes strives to be the character.

There’s an unexpected twist I didn’t see coming, but I was here for. I truly had no idea who to believe and felt like Kelly was a bit dramatic but also easily manipulated and always living in her head.

Definitely go into this one blind.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #thespareroom #thriller #drama #books #bookstagram #dogmom #dogs thank you #balantinebooks and @prhaudio for an eARC and audio Arc of this book. I went back and forth reading and listening and it was a ride. #readwithMC



THE SPARE ROOM was my first book by Andrea Bartz! The cover of this one is what immediately drew me to the book 😍

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Genre: thriller

3️⃣ words to describe it: thriller, pandemic, original

Quick thoughts:

🦠 setting takes place during the pandemic

🤓 bingeworthy and easy to read in a sitting or two

🔥 spicy thriller!!

📖 short chapters make it hard to put down

THE SPARE ROOM is a unique thriller ✨ It went in a direction that I was not expecting at all but it worked for this story. The book itself held my attention & I needed answers as to what was going on with our main characters, Sabrina and Nathan. It is a pandemic setting so they're isolated and have taken in a house guest, Kelly. The suburbia DC setting was fun because I can't remember reading anything with that setting before and the neighborhood felt secluded which added to the creep factor of the overall story 👏🏻 there were some seriously spicy scenes that I was NOT expecting 😳 the ending was unexpected which always makes for a good thriller!

I'll definitely read more by Andrea and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next. Thank you to @randomhouse for my ARC of THE SPARE ROOM 🫶🏻

💭 have you read a book this author?"


"✨ Five Stars. 10 out of 10. A time was had. I'm obsessed. I'm undone. #gifted ✨

Where do I even begin? Kelly, baby girl, please pull up a chair and let me talk to you for a minute. Sweetheart, I know you're enamored by Sabrina's Insta perfect life, but YOU DON'T KNOW HER! Like not even a little bit. Also, the fact that a couple just benevolently invites you (a stranger) to live in their house for an undetermined amount of time is giving MAJOR RED FLAGS. Like what?!

Fast forward to you being in what is clearly a SEX TRANCE, because GIRL something is afoot. How do I know? Because my brain isn't being clouded by lust courtesy of the scent of post coital sheets and a luxurious mansion. Also, if you find yourself compelled to rifle through people's things it's because deep down YOU KNOW something is not right. Let the sex go and LOOK around you.

Now, Andrea (@andibartz), can I call you Andi? Or better yet, my fave, please report to the front because I have so many feelings. I'm clearly not going to spoil the book, but I just want YOU to know that for a large portion of this book my mouth was agape as I screamed, gasped, and legit was like "I'M SORRY, WHAT?!!" Ugh, your mind is so twisty, beautiful, and smart. Everything I thought I knew was wrong because as the Queen of Plot Twists, you pumped the brakes SEVERAL times and did a complete U-turn on me and my assumptions.

This consequently led to me ripping through the last couple of chapters and ignoring all of my responsibilities. I was the epitome of "Do Not Disturb" until the last word. Oh and don't get me started on the epilogue...I'm in a glass case of emotion. You never disappoint.

5 stars. Inject this entire thing into my veins because I want it to live with me. Also, I'm here for any spicy book that you decide to bless us with because YOU ARE ON TO SOMETHING.

Good Book people, please direct me to any and all reviews and conversations about this book because I NEED to unpack this with people."


"The Spare Room 😷

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Genre: Domestic Suspense

Pub Date: 06-20-2023

This book was absolutely wild and totally out of my usual reading comfort zone. First and foremost, I deeply appreciate the author opening with a note that the cat is fine. I can’t stand books with the death or torture of an animal. Moving on, I liked that this was almost in a genre of its own with it being a romantic suspense, and something I personally haven’t really seen much of. There is some spice, some romance, and multiple questions of what is going on. While I did enjoy the story, the pacing didn’t work great for me. Some aspects were super drawn out that made some parts drag a bit for me. I loved the ending. I did not see that coming one bit. Was it out of left field, yes, but I think it worked for this book. I didn’t really mind, but there was a decent amount of pandemic talk, which I know a lot of readers are over and just don’t want to read about it. I think any suspense and romance fan will enjoy this story and would be worth checking out!"


"✨Book Review of The Spare Room✨

Review: ★★★★☆ 4/5

As some of my favorite drag queens would say.. I am gooped and gagged by this recent pub!! I wasn’t sure how much I would like it when I got more into it because we just got out of the pandemic. I wasn’t sure I would want to read about it - however that part of this book did not bother me in the slightest!

Without giving too much away, this book was sexy and dove into some complexities when it came to relationships. I was on edge the entire time which is what I want from a thriller. The twists - WOW. Just when I thought we were done with shocking moments they just kept coming. This really was an excellent thriller. Highly recommend!

I liked it so much I made sure to pick up @andibartz’s The Herd a few days later because I want to read more of her books!"


Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she specializes in crafting shopping stories—from sales content to buying guides that span every vertical on the site. She also oversees holiday coverage with an emphasis on gifting guides as well as Power Pick, our monthly column on the items that power the lives of MC’s editors. She also tackled shopping content as Marie Claire's Editorial Fellow prior to her role as Associate Commerce Editor.

She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.