This is a mashup between the best friend’s little sister trope and the fake boyfriend trope. I love fake boyfriend stories, and I don’t care how ludicrous the setup is as long as I like the writing and the characters. In this book, unfortunately, I didn’t.
Sawyer’s grandparents have decided to move out of their lakeside cabin and retire in the city. Being kind, loving grandparents who don’t want to foster any competition or hard feelings between their only two heirs and grandsons, they announce that they will give the cabin to whomever they feel will “keep it in the family.” Sawyer’s cousin is married and his wife is pregnant; Sawyer is a confirmed bachelor who doesn’t do relationships. But he really loves the cabin because he was raised there after his parents died in a tragic boating accident. How can he get the cabin?
Olivia has just returned to the states after backpacking around the world for five years. She did it because her fiancé dumped her shortly before the wedding and she was sad and heartbroken. Now she’s decided that she wants to settle down and start a family, so she begins by crashing on her brother’s couch while she looks for a job.
Olivia needs a real place to stay and a job. Sawyer has a spare bedroom and he owns the family business, so he can offer her both. In return, he’d like her to play girlfriend for three months, long enough to convince his grandparents that he’s ready to settle down. He’s not, of course, because his parents died suddenly, which convinced him that he could drop dead at any moment, and he would hate to leave a weeping family behind. Yes, that’s his reason for avoiding relationships — because he might die.
Olivia agrees because the job experience will look great on her resume, and she has an arbitrary three-month dating moratorium so she can get herself together. She’s been wandering for five years, but she needs a few more months to heal her broken heart. Pretend-dating Sawyer will protect her fragile emotions.
I forgive the setup. I forgive the fact that the spare bedroom shares a connected bathroom with Sawyer’s own bedroom. I forgive the contrived assumption that Olivia’s college degree and travel experience make her a valuable member of Sawyer’s marketing team, necessitating her having a desk right outside of his office. And I mostly forgive Sawyer for giving Olivia the unoriginal nickname of Sugar.
However. On nearly every page that Sawyer narrated, he thought of his hard dick and his tight balls. If he wasn’t thinking about sex with Olivia, he was reminding himself in great detail of all the reasons why he couldn’t have sex with her. Olivia didn’t think of her wet underpants quite so frequently, but she had even more specific reasons why she couldn’t have sex with Sawyer, and she listed those reasons again and again and again.
They did have sex. But they did not continue to have sex, because Olivia thought they should back off so she wouldn’t develop feelings, and Sawyer agreed. That goes against the rules of romance! After the first sexual encounter, they should regretfully have another! Instead, they held off and went back to the wistful fantasizing. Meanwhile, Olivia scolded Sawyer about working too hard and not taking care of himself, while she also wowed their client with her brilliant marketing ideas.
Then there was a thing that happened later in the book that made me growl. I wasn’t impressed with either character — Sawyer was self-centered and Olivia was magically perfect. I wasn’t a fan of the the grandparents, the cousin, or Olivia’s brother, either. I would have DNF’d this book after Sawyer moaned about his cock for the third time, but it’s been a while since I wrote a bad review, so I persevered for you, Dear Reader. I hope you’re happy.
*ARC provided by Entangled
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Hookup Hoax
by Heather Thurmeier
Release Date: May 26, 2015