Monday, 13 March 2023

CBR15 Book 11: "Not My Valentine" by Jackie Lau

Page count: 136 pages
Rating: 3 stars

This was an ARC from the author. My views are my own. 

Helen Tsang has sworn off love as a lost cause after her boyfriend dumped her last Valentine's Day and someone filmed it, making her a very involuntary viral sensation. However, as Valentine's Day is approaching once more, she feels like she is getting excessive sympathy and pity from friends, family, and even the staff of her regular bubble tea shop. She doesn't really want to field any more questions and decides to ask her friend Taylor to act as her fake boyfriend. They can "break up" a while after Valentine's Day, very amicably, so no one needs to remember the viral video anymore or think about Helen's love life in the future.

Of course, as is always the case with fake dating stories, it doesn't take long before Helen starts seeing Taylor in a new light. They've been friends for years, and Taylor was extremely supportive when she was so very publically dumped last year. For some reason, a lot of the romantic gestures which Helen claims to hate are rather adorable when Taylor does them. He sends her flowers, and pictures of heart-shaped cakes to tease her and doesn't at all mind posing for cutesy couples pictures for her Instagram feed. Of course, as Valentine's Day approaches once more, Helen starts wondering if she wants her fake relationship with her friend to become a real one. 

The grumpy-sunshine pairing is a relatively common trope in romance, as is the fake dating scenario. Helen and Taylor are a cute couple, and as always, in a Jackie Lau romance, there's a lot of descriptions of food and baking. Nevertheless, while this novella was a perfectly fine read, it never became anything special, and now, about a month after finishing the story (I'm once more behind on my reviews), I'm having trouble remembering much of the specifics at all.

This was OK, but there are much better Jackie Lau romances out there - including several fake dating stories. This won't be a waste of your time, but it's also unlikely to stick in your memory. 

Judging a book by its cover: While this is an illustrated cover, I appreciate that there are no cartoony people anywhere on it. Just a bunch of brightly-coloured baking supplies and a little phone. It doesn't hurt that I'm very partial to teal, which is the dominant cover colour.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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