Real Kind of Love
What do you do when your well-meaning but overly intrusive family can’t stay out of your love life? Well, you invent a fake boyfriend of course! Then you have to find someone to play the part. That’s the theme in Sara Rider’s new romance Real Kind of Love, the first in her Books & Brews series. It’s a familiar trope, but the author gives it a fun boost with unique characters and situations to add up to a sexy and enjoyable read.
Clementine Cox needs a fake boyfriend, stat. In an effort to get away to ponder a problem with her current work assignment, she’s booked a solo holiday cabin for a week. To her dismay, her family decides to rearrange their own plans and rent cabins next to her own. In a panic, she tells them that she’s bringing her new boyfriend, hoping to dissuade them from joining her but it backfires. Now she’s got to find someone who won’t mind spending a week with her and her sometimes overbearing family. Her only hope? The owner of the local bar where she has always been welcomed, even after her stint as a waitress there failed spectacularly. Her former boss Jake Donovan has always been pleasant to her, and when her place was recently broken into, he and his crew had been a strong support. Now she needs his help to keep her family at bay.
Jake is proud of all he’s accomplished with his brewpub, the Holy Grale. He’s a workaholic, a fact that definitely played a part in the demise of his last relationship, and when his ex-fiancée plans to use his pub and courtyard for her wedding to another guy, he’s not thrilled. But his partners know that having the wedding there will be good for promoting their business so he reluctantly agrees to let it happen.
Clem’s request comes at the perfect time. Instead of scowling over the wedding prep and having to face his ex, he can spend the week away with Clem and her family. His attraction to Clem notwithstanding, he can agree to play a fake boyfriend as long as she knows he’s not interested in anything more than friendship, his last relationship proof that he’s not good partner material. But when the two of them are alone in the cabin, things take a decidedly different turn. Suddenly the attraction between them is at the forefront, and with both agreeing that it’s just sex and doesn’t mean anything, they can indulge at will. But when their week is over, will they be able to go back to the way things were?
As a fan of audiobooks, I love the idea of a narrator as the heroine of the story. Clem works with mostly science fiction and fantasy books, but the recent take off in popularity of one of her series means she has gotten other assignments too, including her latest which is an erotic romance. She’s stumped for how to do the male voice in the sex scenes and the week away is supposed to help break that deadlock. It does indeed do this – when she realizes that she can take Jake’s deep, sexy voice and use it as a template for those steamy scenes. Plus hearing her practicing the scenes definitely ups the sexual tension between them. Jake helps to break her recording block, and shows her what her sex life has been missing – a generous and willing partner.
But Jake isn’t just there for arm candy. Right from the start he takes his assignment seriously, finding ways to politely disengage them from family activities so that Clem can get some work done. But he also does an admirable job of putting up with Clem’s family, which is a far cry from his own experience. His parents’ marriage was acrimonious at best, and they never showed an interest in him growing up, showering him with money but not affection. While people think he’s rich due to his father’s business, he’s disdained the family fortune in order to make his own way and prove to them and himself that he could make it on his own.
In contrast, Clem’s grandma, parents, her two sisters and their husbands (and kids) are a close-knit, fun loving, concerned family who are constantly matchmaking for her. Their version of camping is pretty over the top, with constant cookouts and togetherness activities like hiking, water races, picnic games and the like. It’s a bit like camping on steroids. To his surprise, once Jake gets used to the constant questions (trying not to fabricate more than necessary) he finds that Clem’s family really grows on him. It’s clear their concern for her is born of love and not just because they want to be nosy. And he finds himself having fun and enjoying competing with Clem’s brothers-in-law to prove that he is a worthy partner for Clem. As for Clem, she discovers an assertiveness that she’d been missing and makes it clear to her family that whatever happens, she’s in charge of her own life.
Within the short span of a week, Jake realizes that he’s not ready to let the relationship that he and Clem are building fall by the wayside. In a surprising turn of events, it’s Clem who holds the cards to decide what will happen next. Finding a man who can put up with her crazy family is important, but so is discovering that she deserves the best – and in the end she makes the choices that lead them to their happy ending. With a colourful cast of characters and a unique series theme, Real Kind of Love is an enjoyable lighthearted romantic comedy.
Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo