Contemporary ARC Reviews: The Decoy Girlfriend, A Merry Little Meet Cute, and Lovelight Farms

September seems like an odd time to start getting into the holiday mood, but as a Christmas girlie, I figure I may as well start now since I’ll still be in full Midnights mode for November when you can usually start getting in the Christmas spirit without judgment. So anyway, all that to say, I have three books to review for you today, two of which are a little holiday themed. One perhaps more than the other, but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, all three of these books are out now. First up is The Decoy Girlfriend by Lillie Vale, which is a really lovely book about Freya taking Mandi Roy’s place and pretending to be Mandi, which involves fake dating Mandi’s boyfriend (who Mandi may or may not also be fake dating). Then we have A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone, which is a delightfully sexy romance where both of our leads are trying to keep some things under wraps from their Hallmark-esque overlords. And finally, Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison, which is a friends to lovers romance set on a Christmas tree farm and involving a reality television show with fake dating! It was marvelous. So let’s get into them, shall we?

ARC Reviews: Covers of The Decoy Girlfriend by Lillie Vale, A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone, and Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

The Decoy Girlfriend by Lille Vale

Cover of The Decoy Girlfriend by Lillie Vale

I really enjoy Vale’s writing. I think she does a fantastic job creating characters that really leap off the page. They feel like real people that you could actually encounter and get to know. I have left both books I’ve read from her feeling like I really do understand the characters. Where I struggled with this book is that I felt like I was missing something else. I think it’s because this book read almost like a movie and in a movie we would have been able to see what was going on with Mandi while she wasn’t present in LA. I’m not sure why that perspective is something that I missed in this book because this is a romance novel and usually, I’m quite content to spend all of my time with the main couple. But for some reason, this book had me feeling like I wanted so much more context. I wanted the world to expand in the sense that I wanted like an entire season of a TV show so that I could really follow them. Plus, at the end of this book? There’s not a real sense of resolution. I need to know what the fallout is. This feels almost like you built up to the top of a roller coaster and you’re like YES, WE MADE IT, only now there’s so far to fall. I’m not sure if I’m making a lick of sense, but that’s where we are. I definitely think Vale’s writing is wonderful, I look forward to reading so much more from her in the future, and I wanted more from this book than what I got. 

A Merry Little Meet Cute
by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone

Cover of A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone

Essentially this book follows Nolan Shaw, former boy band member who got a real reputation for being a bad boy, and Bee Hobbs, also known as Bianca Von Honey who is a very successful porn star. The two are both trying to keep their images squeaky clean because they’re starring in what is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie and there is a morality clause for them. Unfortunately for them, they’ve both had crushes on one another’s alter egos prior to meeting and when they do meet, it turns out the attraction is palpable.

This book is both funny (of the laugh out loud at times variety) and raunchy so I whole-heartedly approve of the raunch-com label, though that’s not to say that the book is full of antics and lacks depth because that’s not true at all. Nolan is trying to get his reputation turned around so that he can support his mom and sister and they are struggling financially. Nolan’s mom is bipolar and has been going through it and needs a lot of help. There’s some brief commentary in this book of a couple of things that had me wanting to give Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone a standing ovation. For example, at one point, it turns out that the medication Nolan’s mom needs would cost $1,000, which is just absolutely wild! And at another point, she comments that she would really like to get a job, even if she could only work part-time around her difficulties, and Nolan points out that it’s too risky because if you are above a certain income level, you don’t qualify for Disability help. I expected sex work commentary and certainly got that, but I wasn’t expecting the other commentary!

Anyway, I really enjoyed A Merry Little Meet Cute. The plus size representation was an utter delight. I loved how Nolan was so attracted to Bee and that he was into her even before meeting her in person. I loved the big gesture in this book, when so often they don’t work for me, because it really felt like an appropriately sized response based on the precipitating need for it. I loved the Hallmark vibes of this Christmas movie the two of them were filming. I cannot wait for more from Murphy and Simone in this universe because I think that they will all be delightful. Also the sheer amount of queer representation was really great and lovely. I really hope both of the other boy band members find love in the next books!! 

Lovelight Farms by B. K. Borison

Cover of Lovelight Farms by B. K. Borison

I have no idea why this book has “a romantic comedy” tagline because I don’t really think this book is that funny? But I did have a really lovely time reading it. It even made me cry! Just a couple of tears, but I really enjoyed it. Ultimately, I think I feel comfortable with a 4.5 star rating because there were a few internal inconsistencies with the timing that just didn’t quite make sense to me? Otherwise though, I had a truly great and fantastic time. 

Essentially, this is a friends to lovers by way of fake dating book and I felt like the book did a good job showcasing both of those things. Estella is terrified of being left, and I will say that it’s never quite clarified why she has this intense fear, but she’s also grieving her mom. It’s been about ten years since her mom passed (cancer), but she’s still dealing with a lot of things related to growing up with just her mom because her dad is pretty trash. I actually really liked the way her dad and his other family is in this book. It was a good time. Anyway, and then there is Luka, who lost his dad when he was… eight? Or something (car crash). He is a gem of a human and I love him and his mom and his aunts so much. Like genuinely, they are such a great family. Anyway, it’s very obvious from the beginning that despite being a single perspective romance, that Luka and La La are both in love with one another. And their end fight situation?? It was really sad and hurt my heart. 

Also, also, there’s some really excellent tension between Luka and La La and their intimate scenes are really emotional. Oh and the descriptions of Italian food? Hello, I cannot wait to travel there because it is time for me to eat real Italian food instead of the way I make spaghetti, which I think would cause most Italians to want to cry. Anyway, I’m rambling right now, but the tl;dr is that I really enjoyed it and now I’m ready to move on to book two in the series, which is the one that Nick specifically recommended to me! I can’t wait!

Final Thoughts

If I had to rank these books, Lovelight Farms would probably take the cake from this trio of books, but all in all, I think they’re all worth picking up depending on what you’re in the mood for! Have you read any of these? Let me know your thoughts if so!

xx

2 responses to “Contemporary ARC Reviews: The Decoy Girlfriend, A Merry Little Meet Cute, and Lovelight Farms”

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