Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd
Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear.
Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all.
So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes.
Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving.
And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.
In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle.
She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing.
Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.
The chemistry in this book was off the charts! It has so many tropes that I love in romance, including fake dating and hate-to-love. The hate-to-love is more annoyance-to-love in this case, which leads so some great banter between these two characters. I often read these holiday romances and find myself wishing they were more Christmasy and festive, but that was not the case with Faking Under the Mistletoe. Olivia LOVES Christmas, and there is something contagious about that. It really got me into the spirit. Asher, on the other hand, is a bit of a Grinch, so that conflict between them reads so well.
This book tackles some deeper themes, including sexual assault, harassment, and victim shaming, but I thought that it was handled well and could lead to an interesting discussion about how women are treated in the workplace and how victims are shamed into not speaking up. Not something I had anticipated when picking up a holiday romance, but I appreciated the conversation and it felt authentic.
I think anyone who loved The Hating Game will also adore Faking Under the Mistletoe. There is something about an office romance that just works.
Wrapped Up In You by Talia Hibbert
William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.
When a blizzard leaves Will and Abbie alone at Grandma Farrell’s house (if bunking with 27 pets counts as ‘alone’), it’s the perfect opportunity to pull off a Christmas miracle. Convincing clever, frosty Abbie to give Will a chance will take more than mistletoe, but hiding his lifelong crush on her is no longer an option.
If Talia Hibbert writes a book, I will read it. I actually had to download the Kobo app in order to get my hands on this one. It was worth it! This is a really sweet and quick read. The perfect friends-to-lovers romance! I also really love a romance where one of the characters is famous, so Wrapped Up in You was right in my wheelhouse.
Our main character, Abbie, has some emotional scars from a past relationship and it was interesting to see her struggling with her feelings for Will and her want to protect herself. Though there is some miscommunication and Will does not always understand where she is coming from, he is so respectful and I love the parts where we were inside his head. He is just so sweet!
I will say that this book wasn’t as Christmasy as I would have liked. It takes place a week before Christmas, but it really could have been set at any time. That said, it was a cute book and I am so glad that I read it. It was nice to have another taste of Hibbert’s writing as I wait for the release of Act Your Age, Eve Brown.