When Courtney Walsh, the author of one of my fav Christmas books last year – A Cross Country Christmas – made a surprise announcement a couple weeks ago that she was dropping a Valentine’s Day fake dating romcom I knew I had to read it so I immediately pre-ordered it.
My Phony Valentine is a dual POV romcom and follows Poppy Hart and Dallas Burke. Poppy lives in a small town called Loveland, an hour from Chicago. She is the chef and owner of a breakfast restaurant, but is struggling. After a bad breakup that effected more than just her, the town has not been the most supportive of her business. Dallas Burke is a professional hockey player for Chicago and is known as the “bad boy of hockey” with a reputation for partying, dating around, and drama with teammates.
One morning, Poppy is in line at a coffee shop for her coffee and a woman she grew up with and has bullied her since they were kids comes to bother her and make jabs about her ex-boyfriend. Tired of hearing it and being the main subject of The Rumor Mill – the town gossip website – she makes the quick decision to say the guy standing in line in front of her is her boyfriend and hopes he will play along. What she didn’t know was that the guy in front of her was Dallas Burke and that he had moved to the small town with his grandmother to live somewhere quieter.
What they thought would be just a one-off thing ends up becoming a full fledged fake dating situation. With people thinking Poppy has a celebrity boyfriend, business has never been better at the restaurant. And with the public thinking the bad boy of hockey has a normal, small town girlfriend, his image is improving. It’s strictly business. But as they spend time together and get to know one another they let their guards down and confide in each other. Dallas tells Poppy about his past and she gets to see who he really is and not what the tabloids say about him. Dallas sees the real Poppy and not what the town gossip site says about her and why she is so guarded after her last relationship. Real feelings develop, but neither of them know if they are good enough for the other. Dallas thinks his life is too public and invasive for someone so good like Poppy. Poppy thinks she’s not as pretty or sophisticated as someone like Dallas is used to.
I really liked this novel. It’s an adorable romcom and I loved both Poppy and Dallas. They were great characters and their dates and times hanging out were so cute. It was definitely a feel good Valentine’s romance and the fake dating trope is always fun. It wasn’t quite as good (for me) as A Cross Country Christmas, but I still enjoyed it!
Also, I couldn’t help but notice that the book is titled “A Holidays with Hart Romance” and Poppy has two single sisters so I’m thinking that means we’ll get books for Raya and Eloise?!
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