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New Release Review! HER PRETEND CHRISTMAS DATE by Jackie Lau (Cider Bar Sisters #2.5)

Her Pretend Christmas Date cover

She’s home for the holidays with her starchy fake boyfriend…

Although she’s the fun and outgoing one, Julie Tam has always lived in the shadow of her older sister, Charlotte. Now Charlotte has a good career and a great boyfriend whom their parents love, and Julie has neither of those things.

Her blind date with Tom Yeung is disastrous; however, he’s exactly the sort of guy her parents would like–a methodical, strait-laced pharmacist who even folds his underwear and wears paisley ties. So, she pretends they’re a couple to impress Mom and Dad in their phone conversations. When her mother insists that Julie bring Tom to her hometown for Christmas, Tom, who has no plans for the holidays, agrees.

But Julie doesn’t know how she’ll tolerate a whole weekend in his company, especially when they have to share a bed and participate in a gingerbread house competition together. The man is irritatingly proper and set in his ways.

Except after hours of baking and skating and opening presents, she’s starting to find Tom annoyingly attractive and even endearing. And now, she doesn’t want this holiday weekend to end…

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Her Pretend Christmas Date was so much fun to read! I loved Julie and Tom’s romance–from their disastrous first date to the epilogue, it was a crazy but somehow still romantic ride. At first glance, it seems that the two of them could not possibly work–he wears a tie to a first date at a taco place! She eats everything bagels with cheddar cheese and peanut butter!–but it turns out that together they help to fill in all the awkward spaces in each other. Who knew that Tom had a hidden craving for a little chaos in his life? Or that Julie would come to find his neckties endearing? (Not to mention fun to take off… ;))

Their story is a novella, the perfect length to squeeze into a busy weekend. Since the bulk of the story takes place at Julie’s childhood home (there’s only one bed! Or should I say there’s only one sleeping bag? ;)) and both Julie and her sister are there for the holiday with their respective boyfriends (boyfriend, fake boyfriend…potayto, potahto) I really recommend reading this one after Charlotte’s story ( His Grumpy Childhood Friend ) so that you fully understand the family dynamics on display here. You *could* read this as a standalone, but you’ll enjoy it even more if you’ve seen things from both sisters’ points of view.

(Is it wrong that one of my favorite parts of the whole story is that they actually ate and enjoyed their gingerbread houses? No slowly petrifying food sculptures for these characters, and I am here for it! And I’m also a little hungry now, honestly…)

I’m counting the days until the next Cider Bar Sisters book comes out!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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