A Not So Meet Cute
Grade : B-

A Not So Meet Cute is what I imagine you’d get if you took the movie Pretty Woman, removed the literal prostitution and gave the Richard Gere character a multiple personality disorder. I alternated between laughing out loud and shaking my head in confusion.

Lottie Gardner has been fired by her childhood best-friend-slash-successful-influencer Angela, so she’s a bit desperate. She’s got student loans to pay and she’s stuck living at her mom’s house, so she needs a new job pronto. Despite having an MBA from UC Irvine and her proven success with Angela’s Angeloop lifestyle blog empire, Lottie determines the best way out of her financial jam is to prowl the uber-wealthy Beverly Hills streets looking for a Sugar Daddy. Luckily - luckily - she just so happens to bump into a guy who is looking for a fake fiancée!

Huxley Cane needs a pregnant woman, and he needs her by Saturday night. In an attempt to woo Dave Toney, a lucrative client for the Cane brothers’ real estate business, Huxley has stretched the truth just a bit. Dave is both engaged and expecting, so what a coincidence that Huxley is also engaged and expecting! or so he lies through his teeth. Now, he needs a fake future missus and baby mama to introduce to Dave and Ellie so he can seal the deal. Bumping into Lottie is a god-send, and he sets out to convince her that becoming his beck-and-call girl will benefit them both.

At first Lottie warms to the idea, but she quickly changes her mind for Reasons and so that Huxley can hunt her down at her home and extort her participation in his grand scheme. In addition to threatening to reveal her recent unemployment to Lottie’s mother, Huxley promises to pay off her student loans AND help Lottie’s sister Kelsey launch her fledgling home organization business by introducing her to a pool of uber-wealthy potential clients. Lottie reluctantly agrees, and we’re off to the races.

Despite her objections, Huxley maneuvers the situation so that Lottie moves into his palatial estate. He buys her the clothes she’ll need to look the part of a billionaire’s bride and a huge diamond engagement ring to really sell the look. She performs admirably during the big dinner with Dave and Ellie, but unfortunately, Dave needs more time to warm to Huxley, so the sham relationship between Lottie and Huxley must continue.

My issue with this book isn’t the premise. It’s the inconsistencies in Huxley’s character. Huxley is a type-A Alpha hero, but he seems to have some self-awareness and a sense of humor. In the beginning, he treats Lottie as a partner, presenting his solution as mutually beneficial, and I settled in for what seemed like the set up for a whacky fake-dating story.

But then things go off the rails. It’s as if writer Meghan Quinn really wanted this to be an enemies-to-lovers story instead of a fake-dating one, so she turns Huxley into a domineering, old skool alpha-hole jerk. His disdain of Dave’s open love and affection for Ellie and his single-minded focus on closing his business deal makes him far from hero material. He insists that Lottie trust him, but he consistently tells her how much he doesn’t trust her. And a scene in a hallway in which Huxley demonstrates his control and dominance borders on forced seduction.

Then, a few scenes later, he correctly intuits when Lottie needs him to support her during an unfortunate encounter with Angela, and he steps up admirably. The guy runs so hot and cold. We get some introspection about how he’s hiding his true self because if he doesn’t, he’s afraid he might fall for Lottie for real. I never quite got why this would be undesirable. She’s free and available, but he’s put her in the ‘business partner’ bucket and there she must remain.

For her part, Lottie doesn’t really understand Huxley’s swings either, and it frustrates the heck out of her. She tries to get him to open up, and sometimes she’s successful and sometimes she’s not. Then again, there are moments when she runs hot and cold as well. It’s as if the need to push the enemies-to-lovers arc overrides character consistency.

Despite my frustrations, I did laugh out loud a lot. A scene in a birthing class is hysterical, as is the text conversation Huxley shares with his two brothers afterwards. And when Huxley and Lottie aren’t trying to actively hate each other, they really do have some great chemistry.

In the end, I’d call A Not So Meet Cute a mixed bag. I did enjoy parts of it, but I do wish Huxley had dialed back his jerkiness.

Reviewed by Jenna Harper
Grade : B-

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : October 15, 2023

Publication Date: 11/2021

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Jenna Harper

I'm a city-fied suburban hockey mom who owns more books than I will probably ever manage to read in my lifetime, but I'm determined to try.
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