If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Illustrated cover in lavender with a biracial woman on one side and white man in a suit on the otherWhy I read it:  I’ve been meaning to try this author for ages now and I love a fake relationship.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  When Laurie’s partner of eighteen years, Dan, dumps her to ‘find himself’ (and leave her on the shelf at 36), she is blindsided. But not as blindsided as when he announces that his new girlfriend is now pregnant.

Working in the same office with Dan is soon unbearable – until the day she gets stuck in the lift with her handsome colleague Jamie. Jamie is looking for a way to improve his reputation in the company and what better way for Jamie to advance and Laurie to give the rumour mill something else to talk about than a fake relationship?

As Laurie and Jamie progress from Instagram snaps to dates, dancing and more, Laurie feels herself falling further for her unlikely hero. But you can’t break your heart in a fake relationship. Can you?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Even though this is a romance and there is most definitely a HEA at the end, the romantic relationship between Jamie and Laurie takes a very long time to get going. When the book begins, Laurie is still with Dan and then it all hits the fan. Then she’s heartbroken and it takes a while before Jamie and she get stuck in a lift (which sparks, eventually, the idea to have a fake relationship).  If I didn’t dislike the term I’d say this was more “women’s fiction”. The book is as much about Laurie’s own journey to rediscover herself than her relationship with Jamie. In many respects, the former is far more detailed.

Skin in the Game by Jackie Barbosa

This review was originally posted in June 2013 but I’m re-posting it today to help support Jackie Barbosa.  Her 16 year old son died in a car crash last week and, of course, her family is devastated. Author friends of Jackie’s, Beverley Kendall and Courtney Milan,have a campaign going to promote Jackie’s books while she cannot, in an attempt to ease her burdens in some small way.  There is also a memorial fund for Julian which will become a scholarship.  Please consider buying one of Jackie’s books this week (I’m sure romance readers can fine one they will like, she has written quite a few) and/or donating to the memorial fund. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Nothing will take away Jackie’s pain and loss but our support can help, even if only a little and that makes it worth doing.

SkininthegameWhy I read it: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about:
(from Goodreads)  Angela Peterson was always the quiet, shy kid growing up in Harper Falls, crushing on the high school quarterback and honing her football strategy skills. Now grown up and coaching the high school team, she’s shocked when that same sexy quarterback returns to Harper Falls asks her back to his hotel room. And then tries to steal her job.

Injured NFL quarterback Cade Reynolds is in Harper Falls to take over as interim head coach, and he never thought the tall, blond bombshell he propositioned would offer up any resistance. Not to a repeat of the amazingly wild night they shared and certainly not to his coaching position.But the Harper Falls High Eagles are Angie’s team, and even the hometown hero won’t take that away from her, no matter how hot he is. As the two engage in a battle of wits and wills, this is one game neither is prepared to lose.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): I liked Angie very much in this book.  She is a strong woman in a non tradiational role, kicking ass and taking names. She is the math teacher so popular there’s a line to sign up for Calculus (this is unimaginable to me) and not just because she’s good looking – but because she’s such a good teacher.  She’s also the Head Assistant Coach of the high school football team and she designs all the plays for the team.  Her vision and imagination when it comes to the team’s playbook is one of the main reasons the team is headed to the championship.  She has the respect and affection of the players.  She loves her job and wants to keep doing it.

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