I love the fake dating trope, so I was pleased as punch that November’s Illumicrate Afterlight book was Make You Mine This Christmas, even more so when forced proximity and all the bisexual chaos enter the equation. The story focuses on Haf who has been having a terrible year and lets her roommate convince her to join them at crashing a Christmas party they may or may not have been invited to. It’s at that party that Haf meets Christopher and following feeling badly for some mistletoe they are caught kissing by his ex.
The next day his family were told that they were dating and is expecting her to join them for Christmas. In the litany of things that have gone wrong in Haf’s year was forgetting that her parents had booked an all-inclusive holiday without her for Christmas and without better plans, and to help Christopher deal with his own issues with his ex and his family, Haf finds herself agreeing to be his fake girlfriend for the holiday. This should be a funny story they tell at parties for years to come, the time Haf pretended to be Christopher’s girlfriend – until Haf meets Christopher’s sister and realizes she’s one in the same to the mysterious, magnetic woman she met at the bookshop. It’s the golden rule of pretending to be someone’s girlfriend: don’t fall for their sister, but it may already be too late.
This book is chock full of representation, a budding F/F relationship between a bisexual, neurodivergent plus-size main character & a lesbian love interest with hEDS, Haf’s nonbinary roommate and best friend who is against the fake dating from the start and provides excellent takes throughout, and a whole town full of people portrayed in real ways. I’ve gone with four stars on this one because while I agree with narfna that the dialogue in this book is amazing, it didn’t, as she would say, vibrate at exactly my frequency – but it was really close. I enjoyed this one so much that I went back and shifted a review of another book down because I didn’t feel comfortable rating them both four stars.