One month to pretend… or one month to fall in love?
How do I turn down an overly keen colleague I have zero interest in dating? Should I:
1. Stammer and bluster my way through every excuse in the book
2. Accept and then immediately turn in my resignation letter, change my number and leave the country
3. Allow my hot, new, doctor neighbour to step in and pretend to be my boyfriend
The answer: there are no right answers.
But option 3 is happening and I’m fake dating Lucas just to survive my work Christmas party without any further unwanted advances.
|Title:||Only for Christmas|
|Category / Genre(s):||Contemporary|
|Trope(s):||Neighours to Lovers|
|Point of View:||Third person, past tense, dual viewpoint (H & h)|
|Release Date:||28 September 2023|
Fun, festive and emotional
This is the first book I’ve read from Tracy Corbett but I couldn’t resist a one-month, fake-dating romance to get me into the Christmas spirit.
Sarah is Head of HR at a private hospital in London. Still reeling from being jilted, she has sworn off men and dating. So when the new hospital director takes an interest in her, she does the unthinkable and let’s Dr Lucas Moore pretend to be her boyfriend. American, Lucas, is only in the UK temporarily but he can’t help his attraction to his cute but prickly neighbour, Sarah. Fake dating her is definitely not a hardship but will he be able to walk away once their month is up?
Sarah has had a hard time romantically and not only has it brought her walls up but it’s completely hardened her heart to the thought of love or happiness. She’s even gone off Christmas since her heartbreak. She really is quite standoffish, prickly and awkward – especially to Luke. But I liked her immensely. I definitely saw myself in her and was rooting for her to get out of her own way and let herself be happy again.
By complete contrast, Lucas is the sweetest, happiest and kindest man on the planet. But he’s not annoying with it. Well, he is to Sarah! He’s so cute, and not just because he’s confused about the UK lingo and references – which was hilarious. He’s just an all-round nice guy and I’ve decided that I want him for my very own. He was smitten with Sarah and despite their differences, they really fit well together and he was exactly what she needed.
This is a very slow-burn romance and in the end, we only get a few kisses, some touches and a mention of the couple’s love life in the epilogue. It’s not that the door is closed to us but rather that there are no sex scenes to be had. I would have liked a bit more, especially before the declarations, but it suited the book to not have anything so that’s not a criticism just a personal preference.
There’s a lot of detail in the book that doesn’t really add to the romance but does help build a bigger picture of the world our characters inhabit and who they are as people. I loved the descriptions of London at Christmastime, the trips that Sarah and Lucas went on and the lovely things they bought among others. It really built that lovely, cosy feeling of a Christmas story that made me happy and festive and in need of a cup of hot chocolate.
As well as the burgeoning relationship between Sarah and Lucas, we have other, smaller storylines going on. There’s the grumpy Mrs Kelsey, Lucas and Sarah’s nosy neighbour from their building and her health concerns. We have Lucas’s sister, Harper, who’s going through a horrible divorce with her two kids. And then we have that hospital director and his unwarranted fixation on Sarah. The divorce is unpleasant and the scenes involving Harper and her soon to be ex-husband are heartbreaking and infuriating in equal measure. I would have preferred to hear less of the reasons for the divorce because it didn’t sit well in my nice, cosy romance. Yes, I know it happens in real life but I don’t like real life.
The largest of the other storylines pertains to the unwanted attentions and stalking of Sarah by her boss. It was bad enough when it was just his creepy behaviour in the office but when it escalated, it got super uncomfortable. Nothing overtly scary or overwhelming, but it added interest to our story and, of course, gave Lucas and Sarah a reason to fake date and ultimately fall in love.
There were emotional bits in the story, too. I’m not much of a fan of sad-crying in my romances and this one did it to me twice. First for Fred. It was fine – but I still cried. And secondly, just in Sarah’s sadness about where she was in her life. I could relate and so I cried. I suppose I can’t blame the author for that last one although anything that draws emotion has to be applauded!
I really enjoyed this story and very much liked reading about Lucas, Sarah and how their relationship started and grew. The writing style made this a book that was easy to read and always one I wanted to pick up and read after a break. The epilogue was also lovely and really made me all warm inside. All in all, this is a great book to pick up and read in the run up to Christmas to get you into that festive and cosy mood. 4 stars – but very nearly 5.
Tracy grew up in Berkshire with her large, noisy and adorable family. She now lives in Surrey with her motorbike-loving partner. She started writing in her late twenties, song lyrics, sketches for pantomimes and short stories, before venturing into the wonderful world of novel writing. She describes her writing style as modern tales of romance, with engaging quirky characters, who overcome adversity, grow as people and conclude in satisfying optimistic endings. When Tracy isn’t writing, she enjoys amateur dramatics and can regularly be found dressing up in various strange costumes and prancing about the stage pretending to be all manner of odd characters!