Canadian Boyfriend
Grade : B+

Canadian Boyfriend is shockingly weighty for the usually lighthearted Jenny Holiday, but heavy subject matter looks good on her. The book is just thoughtful enough to keep the winter chill away, but is also a completely trenchant character study. There’s a couple of quirks that keep this from reaching DIK status, but it’s a very good novel.

As a teenager, Aurora – Rory - Evans once bumped into a handsome hockey player at the Mall of America. She proceeded to use him as a convenient out for every social occasion, turning him into her Canadian boyfriend. She’s never going to see him again, so why not?

Decades later, Rory’s coping with her failed ballet career and recovering from an eating disorder. She teaches young hopefuls, and among her young students is Olivia Kowalski - the daughter of Mike Martin, the very hockey player whom she once pretended was her Canadian boyfriend. Olivia’s mother passed away in a car crash seven months before, leaving Olivia and Mike devastated. When Rory and Mike forge a relationship, Rory is forced to keep Mike from finding out she’s been lying to her family and friends for years about him being her Canadian boyfriend all those years earlier.

Canadian Boyfriend is sweet, but redolent of the grieving process. It has a strong romance but is very honest about what it’s like to recover from an eating disorder and paints a very strong portrait of what it’s like to live with heavy burdens but still seek out joy. It’s just not as lighthearted as the blurb makes it out to be.

I admired and liked Mike and Olivia and Rory in equal amounts, and the romance between Mike and Rory is warm and sweet. I especially appreciated how hard Rory works to shield her students from their momager friends. It’s very gratifying to watch everyone grow in the story, and for those worried that the main conflict might be a little too silly, it ultimately ends up being about Mike having to move beyond his wife’s death.

But when it comes to that plot point, the pacing does feel a little off, and it feels as though Mike is moving on a tad too quickly. And I don’t know why, but the book has Rory continuously refer to Mike by his full name. Even after they’ve had sex, he’s Mike Martin to her! It pulled me out of the story at several crucial junctures.

Yet Canadian Boyfriend is still romantic, tender, and well worth reading.

Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes
Grade : B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : January 31, 2024

Publication Date: 01/2024

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
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