Helen Tsang is tired of the pitying looks. From her parents, her friends, and even the bubble tea shop guy, who recognized her from the video. Almost one year ago, some loser couldn’t mind their own damn business and filmed an unsuspecting Helen’s very public break-up during what was supposed to be a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. A video of her ex-boyfriend saying, “It’s not me, it’s you. You’re holding me back” went viral.
Desperate to give everyone something else to talk about and with Valentine’s Day approaching once again, she asks her long-time friend Taylor Li to be her fake boyfriend, just to prove that she’s moved on and hasn’t sworn off love. (Spoiler alert: She’s totally sworn off love.) Taylor is the perfect option—single for once, and for some godforsaken reason, he loves Valentine’s Day.
But Helen didn’t expect was how easy it would be to get Taylor on board, fitting right into the boyfriend-shaped hole in her life. All she wanted was a couple sickeningly sweet dates to fill her social feeds, not corny text messages of silly heart-shaped cakes, and bouquets of flowers that harbor hidden meanings. Wanting to be around his sunshine attitude and delicious forearms all the time? That definitely wasn’t expected.
With February 14 quickly approaching, it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore her feelings, especially when she starts wishing it wasn’t all an act.
Oh God. What has she done?
Not Your Valentine was exactly what I needed to put a smile on my face yesterday. It’s a short, quick read full of friendship, food, and a fake relationship–not to mention friendship with (so many!) benefits and finally, an HEA. It absolutely checked all my boxes. Could it have been longer? Sure. Did it need to be? Not really. Was it groundbreaking? Nope. But was it the perfect grumpy-sunshine/friends-to-lovers snack that I needed right now? Yes it was!
(If characters who have made the state of denial their new homeland are not your thing, just be warned this is very much in that vein. Somehow, though, Helen’s delusions here were more likely to make me laugh/snort while rolling my eyes, whereas Maya’s in Under One Roof really just had me rolling my eyes, so make of that what you will.)
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.