I received this book for free from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Pretend It's Love by Stefanie London
Series: Behind the Bar #2
Published by Entangled Publishing: Lovestruck on September 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Entangled Publishing
Barnes & Noble
One fake relationship shaken not stirred...
Bar manager Paul Chapman is sick of his family's traditional ideals. Marriage, babies, and a white picket fence? Not his gig. But now that his 'golden child' big brother is tying the knot, Paul's screwed. His ex will be there...and she's having his cousin's baby. Unless he wants to show up to the wedding alone and face his family's scrutiny, he needs a girl on his arm. Now.
Cocktail specialist Libby Harris has spent her life earning the nickname Little Miss Perfect, all to win the love of her wealthy, controlling father. But she deviated from his plan, and now her business is on shaky ground. If it fails, she might as well kiss his respect-and her dream-good-bye. Her only hope? Convince the hottest bar in town to take on her product.
Luckily for her, the owner's brother is sexy as sin and in need of a perfect girlfriend...
This was a cute, quick read, easily doable in one sitting. Libby and Paul each need the other for something, so they decide to team up. Pretending they’re a couple will allow Paul’s brother Des to give Libby more of a chance when she pitches him her new line of infused vodkas she’s developing, and it’ll allow Paul to have a date to an upcoming family wedding so his family will leave him alone. Honestly, I felt like the stakes for the fake relationship were a little weak, but I’m willing to work with it because I really like that trope. It just makes me shake my head every time. “You know this will never work, characters. You have to know this by now.” It’s usually given with the same head shake Sheldon gives Penny when she says something he takes to be silly.
Libby was smart, funny, and used to being on her own. Her mother left when Libby was young, taking off to marry someone else and raise a family with him, leaving Libby behind, and she had no siblings, so it’s just been her and her overbearing father for most of her life. Well, her overbearing father and a string of stepmothers, none of whom seemed to have made much of an impression on Libby. She’s finally building something of her own, but just before her business goes live, she gets knocked back with an unexpected complication. I liked her, though. She wallowed for about five minutes, then got up and got on with trying to fix the problem. If that somehow meant faking a relationship with Paul, then so be it. It’s just temporary. They’ll break up as soon as his family wedding is over and that will be the end of it. They’ll hardly be a blip on each other’s life radars. Yep. That always works exactly like that.
Paul is tired of being seen as the screwup in his family. His ex almost-fiancee (he was ring shopping for her when she left him) cheated on him with his cousin, who she subsequently married and is now expecting a baby with. Family get-togethers are understandably awkward, and he doesn’t want to go through another one half-full people giving him pitying looks and half-full of people wondering what he did to make his ex cheat on him. (Because that’s how that works). Which is where Libby comes in. He figures that all he needs is to show his family, and especially his mother, that he’s trying to have a real relationship again, and that’ll be enough for them to leave him alone. He figures this will be better than the alternative, or, heaven forbid, the truth, because he really doesn’t know what he wants and this way will just be easier. He’s at that point in his life where he doesn’t necessarily want a relationship again, or to be in love, but one-night stands aren’t cutting it anymore, either. Half his friends are getting married and settling down, the other half are still partying it up every night, and Paul is stuck in the middle with no idea which way to go. Rather than deal with that, and try to figure out his life, he thinks a fake month-long relationship is a better way to go.
These two were really charming together. They were there for each other and supported each other in ways they hadn’t experienced before. Neither of them were used to having someone in their corner, someone there just for them, and it was really sweet to see how they learned to recognize and accept that. When the black moment came late in the book, I felt like they genuinely missed each other, not just the sex. This is the second book in a series, but I read it as a standalone and had no problem with it. Also – if no one is working on the line of infused vodkas from this book, someone needs to get on it. I’ve seen a lot of flavored vodkas, but marshmallow and rose petal is new and it sounds delicious. Fig and vanilla bean. Basil and orange. Strawberry and spearmint. I volunteer to try all of them. If you haven’t checked out Stefanie London yet, give her a go!