REVIEW: A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year by Jackie Lau
After his family’s matchmaking extravaganza at Thanksgiving, high school teacher Zach Wong is terrified of what his parents might do for Chinese New Year. Surely they’ll try to set him up yet again, especially now that his older brothers are in relationships. Zach, however, has no interest in dating, not since his fiancée left him.
The solution? Find a fake girlfriend to avoid his parents’ matchmaking.
Jo MacGregor, the town dentist, is the obvious choice. They both live in Mosquito Bay and have been friends for years, ever since they bonded over broken engagements. A few kisses and dates around town, and everyone will believe they’re in a relationship. No problem.
Except their fake relationship is starting to feel more and more real…
Dear Ms. Lau,
I had intended to read this novella for last years Chinese New Year but got distracted and then I was reading the Cider Bar Sisters series aaaand now here we are. Yet another Wong sibling is facing down the distinct possibility that his parents – tired of their children not dating much and no spouses or grandchildren in sight – will set him up on a date. How to avoid it? Head them off at the pass with a girlfriend! Okay, a fake girlfriend but they’re never going to know if Zach carries off his plan.
Who is he going to carry it off with? Why, his friend for the past four years hometown dentist Jo who fashions balloon animals for her pediatric patients and who has met with Zach for years since their engagements were both broken off. Jo realized that she deserved more than a man with the personality of a potted fern while Zach’s fiancee decided that small town Mosquito Bay wasn’t for her. Zach lays out his plan for Jo who cheerfully agrees. She’s been half in love with Zach for years though never let on to him.
Knowing and being known by everyone in town has distinct advantages for laying the groundwork for a fake relationship even if that ends up with ice cream all over Zach’s shirt during their first date. Still, they have to make it look real so a few more “dates” are done, “sweethearts” and “darlings” are exchanged then hawt sex is engaged in and they realize they are enjoying this. But it’s not real, right?
I enjoyed how the small town feel is incorporated in this story. Zach and Jo have both left for their college educations but knew they wanted to go back and live in Mosquito Bay. They’re happy there and they don’t care for big cities. As both work with the public, they’re recognized when out and about but there’s a warm feeling for most of this. As the story takes place in January, it’s cold in Canada. Hockey is king (yay, that Jo plays on the town hockey team) and toques are worn.
Though they’ve been friends for four years and known each other for longer, Jo starts out being the one already halfway to love. The pitying faces that Jo’s family gives her annoyed me, too. Good for Jo initially telling Zach that she thinks she’s ready to move on to a real relationship after their fake one is over. Also good for Zach’s brothers in flat out telling him that they think he’s in love with Jo. Zach, frankly, dithers a bit and drags his heels. Sure being dumped by your fiancee sucks but damn Zach, move on already. The sex, though, was smoking. Nicely done of Zach to counter the douche-canoeness of Jo’s former fiance and reassure her of her sexiness and attractiveness.
What I really loved was holidaying with the Wongs some more. The food sounded divine and I’ve already looked for recipes for the ginger beef that Ah Yeh teaches his grandson in order for Zach to woo Jo. The cut-throat Pictionary was funny and hopefully Ah Ma will be handing out red envelopes to great grandchildren soon. B-
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