Alright folks, it’s official, I am totally in love with this series, and all of the characters. Not to mention the iddy biddy widdle puppies!
What’s it About?
FBI agent Max Carter lives his life by a strict set of rules–rules that don’t allow for distraction, deviation…or a relationship. But tell that to his matchmaking mama. To avoid yet another set-up, he announces he has a girlfriend. And now has to produce said girlfriend at Christmas dinner. Maybe Santa has a suitable actress in that red bag of his…
Gina Castillo is about to break her building’s iron-clad “no pets” policy to give her little brother the perfect Christmas gift–a dog. Too bad Max, the most inconveniently sexy tenant in the building, catchers her red handed. Gina expects to be evicted, but instead finds herself blackmailed into playing the role of his girlfriend. Two lies plus one dog should equal a hot mess of a holiday, but attraction and Christmas magic might just defy the rules…
I can’t help it guys and gals, I love, love, LOVED this book! Let me put it to you this way, I absolutely hate New York City (psychotic, I know), and yet if it were in any way possible I would want to live in this world, and have a glass of wine with all of the characters. Maybe two glasses. Ok…a bottle. In my opinion, this is the perfect example of a quintessential beach read. Although, considering this novel takes place at Christmas time I guess it’s technically a better snowy cabin read. It’s quick, cute, funny, sexy and endearing. You can’t ask for much else. And did I mention there’s a puppy?!?! Squeeee!!! This was such a fun read I found it hard to put down. Seriously, the number of times I considered going in late to work with the excuse of “sorry, I was stuck reading a good book”, was too many times to count. Actually, come to think of it, it happened approximately three times, as I finished it in just as many days.
A Colorful Fake Girlfriend
So let’s start with the premise of the novel; we’re dealing with a fake girlfriend tale here. When Max discovers Gina is keeping a puppy in a no-pets allowed apartment building, he blackmails her into being his fake lady love over the holidays to keep his matchmaking mother off his back. Honestly, fake girlfriend romance novels can really be hit or miss. Let’s face it, we all know how they’re going to end. Playboy guy will fall for said fake girlfriend, and before you know it their phony relationship isn’t so fake after all. But here was the absolute brilliance of this book; Gina fully acknowledges the ridiculousness of the situation.
Gina even warns Max that according to every romance novel ever, if she accepts this ploy they’re bound to fall in love. In my view, the best sure-fire way to make a cheesy story line work is to highlight the fact that it’s cheesy. Don’t hide it people, revel in it! The other positive aspect of how this rather common romance novel trope was handled was the fact that it doesn’t take long at all before both Max and Gina admit they’re not only attracted to each other, but also that their feelings extend beyond the physical. Their continued hesitation to transition from fake to real deals with the mutual assumption that they’re too different to ever fit into the other person’s life. It adds another layer of depth to the traditional fake GF story line.
Obsessively in Love
Now while I really enjoyed the approach to the blackmail story, the absolute standout feature of this novel was the incorporation of Max’s OCD. On the surface, that actually sounds really insensitive, and makes me sound like a weirdo, so let me delve deeper into why I enjoyed this aspect so much. I have read many a romance novel featuring a lead with OCD, and many of them default into treating it like a kind of humorous character trait. Only meeting the love of his life does the male lead magically learn to unwind and not be so obsessive. This novel sort of starts off that way in that Gina’s carefree and colorful nature is at odds with Max’s structured life, and their little arguments over it are kind of silly and quirky.
However, after a while we see how deep Max’s OCD runs, and how it impacts his relationship with not only Gina, but his family as well. He knows that his need for organized structure is on the unhealthy side, and he feels Gina deserves better than that. He doesn’t want his obsessive nature to squash her zest for life, so he draws away from her. But the most heartbreaking moment had to be when Max finally confronts his family for all their teasing about his obsessive habits. He insists that he doesn’t need fixing, and that he’s not some sideshow to be laughed at. During this passionate scene there is one person who fully understands what he’s saying and is willing to stand by his side: Gina. That is why when push comes to shove this book is so much more than a simple fake girlfriend tale.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Love Undercover, book 2. Yeah so I need an ETA on book 3 like, yesterday. Also, be sure to check out book 1 in the series, The Wrong Kind of Compatible, on sale for $0.99 on Amazon from Feb 12-16!
Should you read it? This is one of those few moments where I think I like the sequel even more than the first book in a series. And I liked book 1! I understand how fake girlfriend novels aren’t necessarily for everyone, and this one does have quite a few moments of cheesiness, but I definitely think it’s one worth reading. It starts off adorably silly, but as it goes on we uncover a surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable side of Max that is so heartfelt I couldn’t help but fall in love. As for Gina, she pushes Max’s buttons, but also brings out the best in him. Again, love, love, LOVE!!
Smut Level: Hot damn! I was wondering at first if this was going to stay mainly on the cutesy chick-lit side, but this baby is brimming with passion. We’ve got some action up against a door, in bed, and even a late night naked workout in the apartment building gym. Yummy!
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Lovestruck. 197 Pages.