This was a bit of a slow-burner for me. It took almost half the book before I felt invested in it. The lead characters were enjoyable enough, and I did end up rooting for their happy ending, but I never felt fully connected to them. Oliver felt a little stiff - I understand that it was part of his character, but I think there was room for the reader to be let into more of his personality, it would have helped drive empathy for him. Victoria was sweet, and the fact that we got to see more of the story from her point of view helped, but something (though I'm not sure exactly what) felt like it was missing from her development. Their romance was endearing, if a little predictable, but I actually got more from the Russell family dynamic and Victoria's relationships with her friends and students.
It's easy to see that the author was writing where she knew, because the scenes were set beautifully, and really helped to ground the book in it's location. Setting it at Christmas also helped add a little magic to the story.
Overall it was a pleasant read, and I will continue to read through the rest of the series as it was published, but it didn't blow me away.
*I received an electronic advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What do you do when your fake engagement starts to feel too real…
Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.
Oliver Russell’s Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family’s new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.
When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria’s past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for…
You can buy the book here from 15 October 2020. It's being published by Mills & Boon.