by Kacy Cross
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Some of the best things in life are worth the wait...
Fiona Rangely loves her fast-paced life as a high-end real estate broker in New York City. Or at least, she does until her boyfriend dumps her, claiming that he doesn’t get enough of her time.
She retreats to her family’s quaint Vermont Inn to evaluate her life...but her ex-boyfriend soon shows up with a brand new girlfriend. Fiona quickly devises a plan to win him back: pretend the handsome and laid-back head chef Derek is her new boyfriend!
Will her ex realize what he’s missing? And will Fiona herself start seeing life--and love—in a new light?
This fun, feel-good romance includes a free exclusive recipe for Maple Glazed Sea Scallops.
“How else did you keep memories alive other than to hang on to the places where they’d been created?”
This is the second Hallmark movie-to-book that I’ve read (the previous one was Journey Back to Christmas), and, again, it’s heartwarming, sweet, and a bit (maple) sappy. It’s also adorably silly. Due to their professions, there’s both real estate (after being dumped, Fiona moans “what if I’m like that half duplex that just sits on the market forever?”) and food (Derek thinks she’s “more pleasing to the eye than a clean kitchen at the end of the day”) comparisons. So, yeah, dad-jokes abound, but, for the most part, the book’s so darn fluffy and sweet that it’s hard to fault it for being, well, as corny as a Hallmark movie.
“Memories lived in the boards underfoot, in the walls surrounding you. In the ceiling that had seen years of laughter and tears.”
Fiona is constantly on-the-go, with her cellphone permanently melded to her hand, since she makes herself available to her real estate clients at all times. She prides herself on finding them not just a place to live, but a place to make a home. She’s successful, loves her job, and content in her relationship – at least until her boyfriend dumps her. Devastated, her friend Angela convinces her to take a vacation to her family’s inn in Vermont, despite her guilt – she’s much too busy to call or visit her family regularly, and she still holds a grudge against her dad for selling their family home in NYC after her mother died.
“She had caffeine addict written all over her. She’d need it to speed through her day as she missed all the greatness of Vermont around her because she was too much in a hurry to appreciate the small things.”
Derek, the new cook at her family’s inn, is still recovering from his own failed relationship. At first, they clash horribly, with a lot of smirking on Derek’s part and bratty sarcastic teen behavior on Fiona’s. Despite her “big mouth and speed demon tendencies,” though, there’s a spark between them, and when Fiona runs into her ex and his brand new girlfriend, she concocts a dopey plan to have Derek pretend to be her new boyfriend (without asking him first, of course). Eventually, of course, they figure out together when to go fast (pancake eating contest) and slow (kissing). This is even a two-for-one romance as we also get to see a relationship develop between Fiona’s friend, Angela, and her brother.
“The best dishes of my life… My grandma’s wedding meatballs. My dad’s shepherd’s pie. Maple torte on my aunt’s birthday. To me, food isn’t about perfection. It’s about love…and family…and tradition.”
The plot is predictable, and everything gets wrapped up nicely in the end, of course, complete with a wedding and baby in the epilogue. Fiona learns how to slow down, a conflict at the inn is resolved, and Fiona and her dad finally have an actual conversation, where she learns that, basically, she’s been acting on a wrong assumption for years. Besides that, I had two main issues with the book. The first is Fiona’s behavior – she really acts like an immature spoiled brat at times in how she treats her family and friends. Secondly, I felt awful for Fiona’s ex’s new girlfriend, Hayley. While I didn’t think Fiona’s ex was much of a catch – he definitely gave off “bro” vibes and seemed to not want to put any work into his relationships – Hayley had done nothing wrong and overall came off as a very sweet person. She’s probably better off without the jerk, honestly, but it still felt like an awful thing for Fiona to do, and I wished Fiona had shown more remorse for that.
And now, I leave you with my favorite quote from the book, Derek’s thoughts when he realizes he’s in love with Fiona.
“Fiona was better than a perfect pie crust, far superior to getting the right crispiness to the bacon in his maple bacon pork loin, and definitely more pleasing to the eye than a clean kitchen at the end of the day.”
Fluffy, sappy, and sweet. Perfect book candy!