Author: Jenny Holiday
What I’m Talking About:
When she was sixteen and working at the Mall of America, Aurora met Mike, a cute hockey player who was in town for a tournament. She decided he would be her fake Canadian Boyfriend: the reason she didn’t go to the dances or parties like the other kids. But in reality, her life was consumed by ballet, and her mother wouldn’t allow any distractions.
Fast forward thirteen years and Aurora has quit ballet, much to the dismay of her mother. She’s working at a studio in a strip mall where their philosophy is that dancing is fun. When Olivia, one of her students, rejoins the class after her mom passed away, Aurora comes face-to-face with her dad, NHL hockey player Mike Martin, and while she’s not positive, she thinks he may be her fake Canadian Boyfriend.
I absolutely LOVE the premise of Canadian Boyfriend! What a great idea for a meet cute, and overall it really works. Holiday creates two soulful characters who are hurting and a bit damaged. At their cores, Aurora and Mike are amazing, caring people, which lays the foundation for a solid relationship and story. Canadian Boyfriend is a slow-burn friends-to-lovers story with so much heart. I loved watching each heal from horrendous emotional and mental wounds. It’s wonderful how they support one another in very healthy ways. I appreciate that Holiday takes the mental health of her characters so seriously. I loved the evolving friendship to lovers to love, and the hesitation to be anything more than friends with benefits.
With that said, I’m disappointed that the author takes a funny, original spin on meet cute and turns it into huge “lie.” It’s a tool for conflict when it never needed to be. I feel the story would have been just as emotionally powerful and satisfying, and possibly more fun, had Aurora shared her history instead of hidden it. But, I give props to Holiday who does wring out a lot of emotion from her characters and this reader when the conflict erupts. Although I didn’t love the fake boyfriend aspect being a huge secret, I appreciate how the author uses it
My Rating: B/B+
About the Book:
The fake Canadian boyfriend. It’s a thing. The get out of jail free card for all kinds of sticky social situations. “I can’t go to prom; I’m going to be out of town visiting my boyfriend in Canada.” It’s all over pop culture. But Aurora Evans did it first. Once upon a time she met a teenage hockey player at the Mall of America. He was from Canada. He was a boy. She may have fudged the “friend” part a little, but it wasn’t like she was ever going to see him again. It wasn’t like she hurt anyone. Until she did—years later—on both counts.
When pro hockey player and recent widower Mike Martin walks into the dance studio where Aurora Evans teaches, he’s feeling overwhelmed with the fact that his wife may not have been exactly who he thought she was and the logistics of going back to work. As one of the few people his angry, heartbroken daughter connects with, Aurora agrees to be a pseudo nanny to help him navigate the upcoming school year and hockey season. To his surprise, she turns out to be the perfect balm for him as well. Aurora gets him. The real him underneath his pro jersey. And yet, he still finds himself holding back, unable to fully trust again—especially when he finds out the secret Aurora’s been hiding from him.
Release Date: January 30, 2024
Series: Standalone; Book #1 unnamed series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (384 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley
Amazon (affiliate link)