Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2021
With Mentions Of Hallmark & A Variety Of Christmas Celebrations, It Sets The Mood For The Season. Theirs Is A Feel-Good Read About Family & Tradition.
ABOUT FAUX LOVE NOVELS:
This book is a Faux Love novel. Faux’s is an exclusive escort agency run by Della Fontenot, whose intuition helps her successfully pair her clients with just the right girl (or guy) and distinguishes her from the competition. Her clients sometimes need arm candy, a date for business or social events, a just a little innocent companionship. All is above board and professional, with contracts and NDA’s. Sometimes, however, Della’s matchmaking abilities are so keen that business begins to blur with personal, and soon hearts are involved in the transaction.
The agency is first introduced in Fake Rich Witch, which is Eli and Raven’s feel-good Halloween romance. It is a lighthearted story about finding love amidst the Halloween season, full of haunted houses and fabulous costumes as well as scary moments and innocent fun.
Fake It Real Good is next in the Faux Love lineup. Aton and Ashley’s sweet yet heartbreaking story starts out much like a blind date, and although they try to keep the walls up, things have a way of getting personal as time goes by. The couple’s faux relationship romance is a story about family and sacrifice.
IN THIS BOOK:
Henry Barlow, thirty-three, is ready to take his hotel business international. He operates three luxury, resort-style hotels that have flourished under his careful attention. With locations in New York, Chicago, and Aspen, he is a man on the go. His style is hands-on, and although he has a good management team in place now, it took time to get to this point. Now is the time to make a move, but Henry needs investors if he wants to strike fast. He has his eye on a particular property in southern France but is also considering potential locations in Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada.
As the holiday season begins and the social calendar fills, Henry needs to mingle with potential investors and sure up financing. According to Nicholas, his assistant of nearly ten years, there is a slight problem. Apparently, people find Henry cold and standoffish. He comes across as robotic and unfeeling. Rumors have long circulated regarding his very private life and apparent lack of dates. Nicholas, who has long suggested that Henry would benefit from the company of a woman, has a solution. He refers Henry to Faux’s, an exclusive escort agency, to set up a woman to accompany him to the twelve events on his calendar that take place over the course of three weeks, ending on Christmas Eve. According to Nicholas, who is the only person that really knows Henry, this should help to soften his young Scrooge image and assist in his efforts to sway potential investors, who often look at the person behind the proposal – not just the numbers.
Henry’s is a real rag to riches story. He entered the foster system at age eleven and went through eighteen homes before running away six months prior to aging out. He lived on the streets, but he took his hardship and turned it into a powerful motivation to succeed. He got a job at a hotel and earned his associate’s degree while working his way up the ladder. At age twenty-two, he bought his first hotel, and though it was a fixer-upper, it paved the path to the success he enjoys today. There is one problem with that, though. As Nicholas says, Henry lives for work. He hasn’t been with a woman in years and doesn’t take time off to enjoy his success. He has no social life, but he likes it that way. He doesn’t understand people. He never developed healthy relationships in childhood, and as a result, he lacks the social skills that many take for granted. He can certainly turn on the charm, but he doesn’t particularly like people and prefers to keep to himself.
Isabelle Sharpe, twenty-five, has been hard at work in pursuit of her dream for years now. As a fourth-year medical student living in Aurora, Colorado, she looks forward to finishing her clinical rotations and beginning her residency next year. Her goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, something she was inspired to do when her own father’s life was on the line. She had been just twelve years old when a surgeon saved him, and ever since, she has hoped to help others in the same way.
She never anticipated how much work and commitment would be involved, but she isn’t about to give up, even at the cost of giving up a social life. As an only child, her parents have sacrificed for her and she isn’t about to let them down by dashing their hopes for her. They’ve even delayed their own retirement dreams of selling the Aspen home and traveling the world just so they can keep the family home for Izzy to return to when on break. Though Aspen is home to the rich and famous, her parents own a home that was passed down to them. They do alright with money but they certainly are not rich. They help with what they can, but Isabelle has a pile of student loans to pay off. So when she comes across Faux’s escort agency, she cannot help but be interested in the possibility of a big payday in spite of all her misgivings. She doubts her curvy figure is what wealthy men are looking for, but decides to give it a try since it could make a real difference in her life.
Henry and Isabelle don’t exactly hit it off right away. There might be some underlying attraction to one another, but Henry is all business. They do, however, get along very well, and despite his doubts, Henry decides to move forward and hire Isabelle for the three-week period leading up to Christmas. Isabelle can hardly believe it is real, but she won’t argue with the $100,000 payday. She soon finds herself in fairytale-like circumstances, but Izzy is a smart and down-to-earth girl-next-door type who knows better than to expect a happily ever after. Her position with Henry is strictly business. But as he finally begins to open up to her, his personal story breaks her heart just a little. And when she discovers that he has never experienced the joy of Christmas, she makes it her personal mission to change that sad fact. The couple experiences ups and downs as they struggle to get on the same page, but they eventually find a happy ending.
Wow! Henry and Isabelle’s Christmas fake relationship romance is a perfect holiday read. With mentions of Hallmark and a variety of Christmas celebrations, it sets the mood for the season. This story has a real vibe and there is little in terms of over-the-top drama. Henry is a deeply flawed character. He acted out in his youth, but somewhere along the way, he got serious, too serious for his own good. He has business goals, but his personal goals have been put on hold. That isn’t surprising, however, because his social skills are lacking. He doesn’t pick up on social cues, so he often misses out on the unspoken intentions of others. When Izzy enters his life, he isn’t prepared to deal with someone that doesn’t take orders. It begins to confuse him. He understands his inability to deal with feelings, so his preference is not to deal with them at all. Izzy, however, brings out all sorts of feelings in him. He waffles between giving into those feelings and keeping up the pretense that everything between them is strictly business.
Isabelle is like Henry in many ways, so it is easy to see why they have so much potential together. She, too, puts her goals and work first. She hasn’t had a boyfriend or much of a social life because she has devoted most of the last eight years to her education. Izzy is not the type that seeks attention. She is often content to stay at home and do something simple. She is a smart young woman from a humble background. Still, she is comfortable enough in public and quite capable of mixing with and meeting new people. She does so while maintaining an air of authenticity. She is warm, open, and honest. This contrasts with Henry’s cold, closed, and often abrasive attitude. Nicholas was obviously insightful when he suggested that Izzy would soften Henry in the eyes of the public.
Henry and Isabelle’s holiday romance is a feel-good read about family and tradition. It is also about achieving goals and finding balance in life. Finally, it is about overcoming poor social skills and taking a chance on love. Their story is well-written. The plot is somewhat simple. The characters are complex and well-developed. Henry is particularly compelling, and his story sticks with you. The story is written in first person. The POV alternates between Henry and Isabelle. I rate this book 4.5 stars.
I received an advance copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.