Jackie Lau’s A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year is the third in her quartet of small town holiday romances, Holidays with the Wongs. Lau is one of the authors I discovered this year via Twitter and she has become one of my comfort reads. I have yet to dislike one of her books, and I found this one charming, and yes, comfortable.
After being traumatized with a surprise blind date in A Match Made for Thanksgiving, Zach Wong is worried his mother and grandmother will try again at their family Chinese New Year dinner. After his fiance broke up with him, Zach is uninterested in romance, and certainly doesn’t want it thrust upon him. As a proactive measure, he decides to find a fake girl friend. Zach returned to his hometown after college and now teaches at the local high school, which complicates finding a fake girl friend, because they have to pretend date in order to sell the story to his family. He decides to ask Jo, the town dentist, who has become his friend over the years. It’s perfect – no one will question that he’s suddenly dating Jo.
Folks, what we have here is a combined friends to lovers and fake relationship trope book. Everything will go awry and people will be dumb about their feelings and then they will get it together and realize they are in love. Yay!
The Holiday with the Wongs series is low angst. Zach is dumb about his feelings, but there’s no scene of emotional devastation before he realizes how much he loves Jo. Jo has had a crush on Zach for a while, but has been willing to let herself stay in the friendship rut. She is not dumb about her feelings and she only allows herself to get her hopes up a little bit. Instead of a big drama, Lau lets Zach and Jo figure out that they are ready to move out of their friend rut. Changing the context of their interactions changes the way they see themselves and each other. As dumb as Zach is about his feelings, he deliberately makes an effort to show Jo how much he values her. It was lovely to read.
I am looking forward to the final book, a Valentine’s Day novella featuring the only Wong daughter, Amber.
A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year will be released on January 7th. I received an arc from the author in exchange for an honest review.