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Not Your Valentine

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Helen Tsang is tired of the pitying looks. From her parents, her friends, and even the bubble tea shop guy, who recognized her from the video. Almost one year ago, some loser couldn’t mind their own damn business and filmed an unsuspecting Helen's very public break-up during what was supposed to be a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. A video of her ex-boyfriend saying, "It's not me, it's you. You're holding me back" went viral.

Desperate to give everyone something else to talk about and with Valentine’s Day approaching once again, she asks her long-time friend Taylor Li to be her fake boyfriend, just to prove that she's moved on and hasn’t sworn off love. (Spoiler alert: She's totally sworn off love.) Taylor is the perfect option—single for once, and for some godforsaken reason, he loves Valentine’s Day.

But Helen didn't expect was how easy it would be to get Taylor on board, fitting right into the boyfriend-shaped hole in her life. All she wanted was a couple sickeningly sweet dates to fill her social feeds, not corny text messages of silly heart-shaped cakes, and bouquets of flowers that harbor hidden meanings. Wanting to be around his sunshine attitude and delicious forearms all the time? That definitely wasn't expected.

With February 14 quickly approaching, it's getting increasingly difficult to ignore her feelings, especially when she starts wishing it wasn’t all an act.

Oh God. What has she done?

136 pages, ebook

First published January 24, 2023

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About the author

Jackie Lau

29 books508 followers
Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels.

Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, hiking, eating too much gelato, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 264 reviews
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 56 books7,646 followers
January 25, 2023
A sweet fake dating romance. Helen is a fairly reserved and undramatic person who was horribly humiliated when her boyfriend's public dumping of her last Valentine's Day was recorded and went viral. She's now fed up of being harassed to start dating again so she asks her friend to be a fake boyfriend to get her though the period, and we all know where *that* leads.

[Pause] Has anyone done a book where the fake dating guy becomes, like, a creepy stalker villain and the actual hero has to rescue the heroine or similar?

Anyway. This is a lively, zippy read with a heroine who is satisfyingly herself: she is not exuberant, she doesn't like putting her life on SM, she smiles when she's pleased rather than to please other people, and the hero loves all that. Also, the hero is 5'5 and the heroine loves that he's not neck-breakingly tall for her! A really warm, satisfying shorter read, thoroughly enjoyable.
Profile Image for Hannah B..
687 reviews858 followers
January 13, 2023
This book was perfect but in my heart I feel like it’s not even close to being over? I just want to still be reading it??? Like I’ve been sitting here on my phone for ten minutes and every few seconds mid doom scroll I’m like wait I need to go keep reading Not Your Valentine and then I remember all over again that I finished it 😭

Ugh it was just so cute and funny!! The “I hate Valentine’s Day” thing can get old real fast for someone (me) who loves pink and sprinkles and glitter and things shaped like hearts, but I thought this concept was fresh, fun, and incredibly charming!!!

The hero was 5’5” and while he was still taller than the heroine, I loved how height was used in the book. Plus he had long hair and she pulled it a lil bit and 🥵 Taylor was the definition of a cinnamon roll in the streets and some hot cross buns in the sheets. The book had a few explicit sex scenes plus a hot masturbation/dildo scene from Helen’s POV.

Y’all idk this book kinda did a number on me I’m just staring at my ceiling listening to Crazier by Taylor Swift on a loop. I just loved the atmosphere of the food and the soups and the friends and the baking and the fake dating. It was just so cozy!!!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 🌶️🌶️🌶️/5

I hope Kobo does an audiobook version bc I’d listen immediately!!!

Thanks so much to the publisher for an eARC via NetGalley! All opinions are honest and my own.
Profile Image for SabiReads.
269 reviews32 followers
January 14, 2023
Thank you NetGalley, Kobo Originals andJackie Lau for letting me read “Not Your Valentine” in exchange for an honest review.

This was short and…. Highly sweet… ehh… predictable. Being a fairly short read, I was done in no time. The storyline was very one dimensional and straight to the point. Very, very straight forward.

Helen has never been an avid dater. Ever since the last years valentines debacle, she stayed clear of dating. She gets annoyed when everyone asks her about her status. What does she do? She asks her old high school friend if they can be in a fake relationship. Of course he says yea, what else. The rest you can probably imagine. Helen realises she has feelings for him and yeah… you get it…

There is nothing particularly wrong with this, but also nothing particular exciting. Nothing to write home about. I had fun for an hour but will have forgotten it by tomorrow?! It was just too short to be a contender.

But hei…

What I learned while reading:

- What is a Charcuterie Chalet? A charcuterie chalet, or a cheese house, is essentially a gingerbread house made from ingredients you would normally include on a cheese board. You can use a variety of nuts, cheeses, crackers, pretzels, appetizer meats and even vegetables.” I googled them and now I am hungry. Thanks…
Profile Image for PlotTrysts.
523 reviews147 followers
January 17, 2023
Jackie Lau's Asian-Canadian contemporary romances are perfect little bite-sized potato chip books. She engages with tried and true romance tropes with a little extra something. Not Your Valentine pairs high school buddies Helen and Taylor in a fake dating situation. Last year on Valentine's Day, Helen's boyfriend dumped her publicly. Worse, it was filmed by another restaurant-goer and posted online, and the clip went viral. She's TOTALLY over it, but because she's not dating, her friends and family are worried about her. Easy solution to this problem: get a fake boyfriend.

The romance is short and sweet. It's a sunshine/grump pairing, with chemist Helen as the hearts-and-sprinkles-hating grump and social worker Taylor as the ooey-gooey pining sunshine. The book is entirely from Helen's perspective, and Lau pulls off the "is he into me or isn't he?" tension perfectly. With set pieces around Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day, it's a real romance treat with a little spice.

This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novella.
Profile Image for Shauni .
261 reviews230 followers
January 20, 2023
What a cute book! Helen hates Valentine's Day, since her last boyfriend broke up with her on that day a year ago. The break up was recorded and the video went viral, devastating her even more.

So now that the holiday has come around again, she has sworn off love. But her friends and family are worried and encourage her to start dating again. But rather than actually finding a real boyfriend, Helen decides to ask her oldest friend Taylor to be her fake boyfriend, to keep everyone off her back. And it's safe. She'll never actually fall in love with Taylor, right?

This was a fun and quick read. While it didn't have quite the depth I was hoping for, I enjoyed the humor and romance.

Not Your Valentine will be released on January 24, 2o23.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Kobo Originals for sending me a free copy.
Profile Image for Lucy ⁠☆.
16 reviews6 followers
January 28, 2023
4/5 ⭐ — Aaaa this was such an adorable yet relatable romcom!!! Both Helen and Taylor were absolutely amazing characters who both had their own realistic struggles and their own ways to deal with them...like for example Taylor was literally the most relatable character I've ever seen omg?? Their relationship was super cute and literally had me giggling, blushing and kicking my feet like a little girl :)) I'll definitely consider trying more books from Jackie Lau!

🗂️ (Thank you to Netgalley and Kobo Originals for letting me read a digital copy of this upcoming book in exchange for my honest review!)
Profile Image for N.G. Peltier.
Author 3 books214 followers
January 20, 2023
This one was a sweet read. I like that the heroine was grumpy cuz yes more grumpy heroines in romance please and thanks. Also the hero was shorter than most heroes we see in books: he was 5'5 and had looong hair. He sounded pretty cute to me actually ;)

I love a good fake dating trope and we got this here. I will admit I did feel like it wasn't wowing me so much to begin with but it was cute. The heroine thoughts are alll over the place but this was relatable to me? Because I can definitely think a scenario to death lol.

The ending came together quite nicely with the heart cakes (both human and otherwise. this will only make sense when you read hhahha)

Overall, I think it you're looking for a quick, cute Valentine's rom read then this will work
Profile Image for  Bon.
999 reviews75 followers
January 25, 2023
Thank you, Netgalley for a Read Now copy of this delightful Kobo Original that was published today!

Helen Tsang is a lovable, malcontent grump who talks to her fish Lucifer more than other people, and likes nothing more than staying home to binge shows. She has a mug that says "fuck off". She is a mood. And she happens to have gone viral in her city the year before, for a disastrous public Valentine's Day breakup that someone livestreamed.

A year later, under pressure from friends, family, and even her local bubble tea vendor, she snaps and says she has a boyfriend again - her oldest friend, Taylor Li. Now to get him to agree to fake-date her, and dodge real feelings along the way...

I loved this. It was charming, cozy, and filled with Lau's signature love language - Toronto's food scene. This story had me craving beef noodle soup at nine in the morning. Helen's gradual crescendo to "Oh No, I've Caught Feelings" was very cute to read. Her thirst for Taylor's forearms was relatable. The story even tackled racial fetishes and how they had harmed our two main characters. The narrative cherry on top that I really appreciated was that one of the steamier scenes involved solo female masturbation, still a rare beast on-page in romance novels that I come across. Many kudos to Lau.

I just really enjoyed this, as I usually do Jackie Lau's work. And that cover is so cute! A perfect contemporary pick-me-up.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,337 reviews39 followers
January 16, 2023
I really enjoyed this grump/sunshine short story. I was totally in the mood for a cinnamon roll hero and Taylor hit the spot. I just loved how he loved our unconventional heroine, Helen, and the fake dating trope is totally a favorite of mine.

I really appreciated the progression of their relationship and feelings toward each other. This is a solo POV, so we could only guess how Taylor was feeling but Helen was hilarious. Bowling shoes and human hearts, there was so much quirky fun!

Even though it was a short story, I didn’t feel slighted on character development or the romance. We definitely got to see that they were attracted to each other!!

Overall, a quick fun holiday read with some real emotion and characters you totally root for!

I requested an early reader copy from NetGalley and Kobo books.
Profile Image for Kaye.
2,751 reviews25 followers
January 30, 2023
Helen lives in Toronto and is dreading Valentine’s Day. Last year her boyfriend broke up with on the holiday while someone live streaming. It went viral and she hasn’t been on a date since. Now to get everyone including her mother to stop being concerned for her she decides to ask an old high school friend to be her fake boyfriend. This is a typical kind of set up and there is nothing wrong with it but there isn’t anything fun about it either. Usually in fake dating the focus is on convincing others you’re together. Instead here they actually date and she puts out things on social media. He does meet her family and her friends but he gets along with everyone so there is no risk to the ruse. About the only question is how long till she realizes she has feelings for Taylor. This is a novella (136 pages) and does have some heat and nice conversations. But I found the tone kind of moody and not fun or playful. Thank you to NetGalley and Kobo Originals for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Weekend Reader_.
662 reviews38 followers
January 15, 2023
Jackie Lau knows how to write a grumpy female character/cinnamon roll male character. I think this book took a while to get started, Helen and Taylor's hea was so worth it. The last half of this book reminded me so much of why I love friends to lovers. Taylor gets Helen and doesn't try to change her and vice versa. Oh and the weekend in the cabin 🥵 miss maam said she was sore from getting sexed up really good. I also think Jackie Lau really does a good job of discussing discrimination within and towards the Asian community and confronts fetishism head-on. We get that here from a male perspective and how it impacted his self-esteem and motivations to date. She also snuck in something unexpected about Helen's insecurity about a certain body part that I thought was quite interesting.

CN: dating anxiety, online bullying, breakup, fetishism, divorce, body insecurity

I received an e-arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ailurophile.
21 reviews5 followers
January 14, 2023
"I can't help but kiss him. I feel him smile broadly against my lips, and then he's kissing me back. Gentle and slow, but building in intensity. His mouth is warm compared to the cold around us. My body liquefies, and he holds me close so I don't collapse on the ground. No, I'm staying right here..."

This is sweet perfection, the exact book you're going to want to have with you this Valentine's Day as you curl up with some chocolate and wine.

The premise of the book is simple. Helen's family and friends are worried about the fact that she doesn't have a boyfriend. What could possibly be better than pretending she does have one until after Valentine's Day blows over? Luckily she has the perfect candidate in mind-- her friend Taylor, who she totally has no romantic feelings for-- until she does :)

I blew through this book in a few hours during which I most definitely should have been doing other things-- I could not put it down.

Helen's narrative voice is HILARIOUS. She's the kind of person who thinks one heart emoji is excessive, that non-anatomically correct hearts are bizarre, and that it's important to have enough time alone to be cranky. She's also not above fantasizing about Taylor wearing nothing but bowling shoes. But beneath her quirkiness and pessimism, she's a smart, funny, kind, and interesting person who deserves everything good that the book ultimately gives her. As a bonus her mother is hilarious too-- the kind of meddling mom who is too pure hearted in her intentions to be truly annoyed with.

When the romance finally comes it is the sweetest thing in the world. And when the sex comes it's incredibly sexy too. I loved how Lau described their first kiss-- I felt myself melting right along with them. And I appreciated how naturally the relationship flowed and developed-- in this trope you know what's coming, but the execution here was seamless and had me smiling along every step of the way.

Even though the book is light and funny and fluffy, I absolutely loved that the characters also opened up to one another about serious topics, particularly race and micro aggressions. You truly could feel that there was substance in their relationship and way more between them than fluff and sex.

While my rating would have been the same either way, I also adore how Lau describes Toronto. I've never been there but she made me wish I could go. Her love for the city and the little things that make it beautiful really came through the page.

I recommend this to absolutely anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with some humor thrown in, as long as you can stomach the fake relationship trope. But actually, give it a chance even if you can't stomach the fake relationship trope-- Lau might just be the person to change your mind.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Maria Rose.
2,454 reviews241 followers
January 27, 2023
A sweet and sexy friends to lovers/ fake relationship trope romance with the author's trademark flair for adding delicious food into the mix!
Helen got dumped by her boyfriend on Valentine's Day in a scene that was unfortunately public and went viral. Now her friends and family are worried that she isn't getting back into the dating scene fast enough and to get them off her back she's asked her longtime friend Taylor if he'll be her pretend boyfriend for a few months, at least until after the next Valentine's day is over and then they can break up and go back to being friends.
But Taylor is such a sweet and caring guy and treats Helen so well that as they spend time together it dawns on her that she could see herself in an actual relationship with Taylor. I particularly loved that Taylor would tease Helen with heart shaped desserts, knowing she would roll her eyes at them. It's a slow burn romance that leads to some sexy scenes in the second half and the eventual satisfying happy ending.

A copy of this story was provided by the author via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Shannon.
3,561 reviews156 followers
January 15, 2023
I love Jackie Lau's books and this latest was no exception!! A grumpy/sunshine, friends to lovers, fake dating, anti-Valentine's day romance featuring two Asian Canadian MCs that had me laughing and swooning in equal parts as Helen tries to make her friends and family happy by pretending she has a new boyfriend. Especially after her Valentine's day breakup went viral last year, leaving her staunchly anti-romance and VERY much anti-all things hearts and flowers and Valentine's day. But her high school friend Taylor slowly has her changing her mind as she finds herself growing more and more attached. Much thanks to NetGalley and the author for an early digital copy of this new novella that makes a perfect Valentine's Day read!
Profile Image for Theresa Munroe.
17 reviews
January 29, 2023
It was short and sweet, and just what I needed to get that more excited for Valentines day! I was grateful to get a copy through net gallery. I devoured this in a couple days, and adored the main character immensely. I completely understood her idea on love, and being hurt. Her idea was out there, but so excited that this friend's to lovers romance got spicy and adorable. She kept denying her feelings, but you could completely see past them. Throughout, you constantly wanted her to just blurt out how she was feeling towards Taylor. In all honesty, I wish this novel was a tad longer but I'm also believe that it gave quite the punch in a short time span. It was beautiful, and I wish it will come out as a physical copy so I can buy a copy.
Profile Image for Barbara Powell.
669 reviews48 followers
January 26, 2023
Helen is totally anti Valentine’s Day after last year’s debacle where she got dumped in a very public way and it then when viral. Since then her family and friends have been on her case to get back out there again and find someone but she’s not interested in dating after her last relationship. So she comes up with a plan to ask her longtime friend Taylor to be her fake boyfriend in order to get them all off her back and then after a few weeks they can end the relationship and go back to being just friends. Of course, in the meantime, they both catch feelings for each other and now they have to figure out what to do about it and where to go from here. There’s lots of steam packed into this short story and it was fun and easy read. .
Thanks to Kobo Originals and NetGalley for this eArc in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Victoria Rivera.
10 reviews
January 12, 2023
I want to give it 5 stars so bad but I literally just told someone I only give 5 stars for when something changes my life…4.9 stars? ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I feel like I am being dramatic by loving this book, but I just read two books that agitated me, one I did not finish, and another book that was good but just not my style. I decided to take a peek at what was next on my list and read the first chapter, I would put it down and pick it up this weekend. Within the first chapter, I was hooked. Lau’s writing style is what I love soooo much and after not enjoying books the last week I was so happy to see a writing style I was familiar with and loved. This is a short book, or maybe it’s normal and I have been reading long books, but I read this in 2.5 hours and I made every facial expression as I read it. I could not put it down, and I mean, I had a very full bladder at one point and I had to rip myself away from the kindle. Is this going to be everyone’s cup of tea? No, but you should give it a shot because it's so cute and fun. It followed a romance novel plan but wasn’t so cookie-cutter that it was unbearable. The one complaint I have is it made me hungry. Hungry! They kept going out to all these restaurants and talking about their family foods and here I am waiting for my husband to get home so I can cook. Cake was mentioned in almost every chapter and damn it do I want some cake! Do I have cake? No! And it’s too late to buy some!

The characters were also so refreshing. They weren’t perfect in looks or personality. I find so often romance novels have the same blonde blue-eyed woman who sure, gets a little cranky, but she is perfect. There’s her perfect love interest with a defined jaw, a ripped body, and he needs to duck in every doorway. Taylor is 5’5. Helen is asymmetrical. Taylor’s hair is longer than Helen’s and he is a skinny man. They’re also both Chinese and Helen’s friends have an array of ethnic names, no John Smiths and Ashley Johnsons here (please no offense if you choose those character names). How often do we get Asian leads? Follow-up question - how often do we get Asian leads that aren’t fetishizing? This being an important topic Lau brings up in this novel.

The gradual falling in love that we see is so fun, I laughed and squealed my way through this whole book. I so hope it’s a hit by Valentine's day.
Profile Image for E. R..
605 reviews4 followers
January 25, 2023
The heroine is tired of the pitying looks that everyone is giving her due to her ex-boyfriend breaking up with her in a very public way that made her infamous in social media. With the approaching first-year anniversary of the breakup, the heroine decided to have a fake romantic relationship with her friend, the hero. As the two began to fake date, their relationship changes. Will the heroine let herself be open to love with the hero or will she close herself away from ever falling in love again?

This Jackie Lau story is entertaining and delightful to read. It's short and sweet, told from the heroine's perspective. This contemporary romance features friends-to-lovers between a grumpy heroine and the sunshine hero. I liked the support that the heroine got from family and friends. I also enjoyed reading the sexy scenes between the hero and the heroine. I would have liked to have the hero's perspective, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Overall, I recommend this Jackie Lau book.

**Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions and thoughts in the review are my own.**
Profile Image for Laura VanZant.
283 reviews6 followers
January 13, 2023
*I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Weirdly, Valentine’s Day romances don’t usually appeal to me. They feel forced and hokey and are often trope-heavy. This book, however, was the perfect V-Day romance. We have a Valentine’s Day hating grump, her best friend from high school, all tossed together by the fake dating trope. Even though Valentine’s Day was an important part of the plot, it didn’t overtake the whole story which allowed the characters to develop and actual relationship. As a novella, I think this also had excellent pacing with nothing feeling too rushed but also no superfluous details. It moved along at the perfect pace, and was a great weekend afternoon read. Definitely recommend!
January 13, 2023
Thank you @kobobooks @vanessasalemi for the gifted ARC copy! ✿(⸝⸝ᵕᴗᵕ⸝⸝)✿

❝ He smiles like he really is glad to see me, and I smile back. Genuinely, not because it's the right thing to do. Spending time with Taylor always makes me feel that way❞🤍
- Jackie Lau, Not Your Valentine

From the author of THE UNMATCHMAKERS and THE STAND-UP GROOMSMAN comes a chocolate-filled love story starring a heroine who is convinced she knows what will make her happy and a hero who seizes the opportunity to prove her wrong.

Last Valentine’s Day, Helen’s boyfriend publicly broke up with her, and the video went viral. Fast forward to the present, she is still single, and friends and family still feel bad about what happened. To make them stop pitying her, Helen decides to fake a relationship with her High school friend, Taylor.

It was a fast and light read filled with many aww moments that made me smile. The author did a great job when she transitioned Helen and Taylor's relationship from friends to lovers in the story. I love how they are comfortable with each other; they can freely do and say anything they want. They have a connection where they know what the other wants and needs, and I find it really cool. I also love how thoughtful and caring Taylor is. Giving suggestions on food and restaurants that he thinks Helen will like. Helen is also a great character, and I appreciate her attentiveness and kindness toward Taylor. Overall, it was a sweet novel and definitely worth binge-reading.🥰
Profile Image for Kimberly.
10 reviews26 followers
January 26, 2023
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Helen has sworn off dating after she was dumped on Valentines Day and it unfortunately went viral. To appease the pressure from her friends and family to start dating again, Helen decides to ask her long-time friend, Taylor, to be her fake boyfriend. And I’m sure you can figure out where it goes from there.

This is your standard fake dating and friends-to-lovers story. It was sweet with a touch of spice. I enjoyed it for what it was. This one’s a quick read to get you ready for Valentines Day!
Profile Image for Brandy.
882 reviews33 followers
January 23, 2023
This was such a fun book! My favorite trope in all the world is grumpy sunshine and the fact that Helen was the grumpy one! She was lovely, if a bit anxious and traumatized. And Taylor is such a freaking lovely person, I just adore him! Watching them navigate fake dating (I love fake dating too!) was fun if a bit stressful. And I loved Lucifer, the disapproving goldfish!!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Mellen.
1,417 reviews52 followers
January 14, 2023
Thanks to Netgalley and Kobo Originals for the ARC of this!

This was a short, sweet, friends to fake dating to lovers story. The main characters were adorable together, and I totally see why she would've taken so long to try to start dating again after being publicly humiliated. Perfect holiday read for February!
Profile Image for Joy.
291 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2023
Thank you Kobo books for the free digital ARC. I appreciated the representation and discussion of racism. I am a big fan of fake dating romance but this one felt predictable and cliché. Nothing really interesting happens. There’s no conflict other than an assumption, which is always a let down in romcoms. There were also some scenes & dialogue that I didn’t like and it kind of took me out of the story. I will say, I love the idea of a donut bouquet for Valentine’s Day instead of flowers. The food aspect of the story was great; it made me want soup and donuts. Maybe I’ll even try cheesecake for breakfast. 😆
Profile Image for Ashley M.
88 reviews13 followers
January 23, 2023
This book as such a delightful, bite sized read! Packed with a cute storyline, lots of Canadian references and tasty sounding food!

Helen has sworn off love after a video of her being spectacularly dumped last Valentine’s Day went viral. However, while she may have made peace with this, others cannot help but look at her pityingly. During an afternoon bubble tea run where the owner once again gives her concerned looks, Helen announces that she’s got a new boyfriend! One problem: she doesn’t. Helen quickly enlists the help of her friend Taylor who agrees to fake date her until after Valentines. But as time goes on, Helen finds herself falling bit by bit for her friend.

Ok. Before we go any further I gotta say this: I LOVE books that feature Canadian settings and don’t feel the need to explain them! Swiss Chalet, Tim Hortons, the TTC! I loved seeing them! I even loved the mention of the Service Canada scams! I mean, they make my professional life very difficult, but I love that they were referenced!

The book is less than 200 pages and is a pretty quick and easy read to get through. The story is told from Helen’s perspective and we often get little bits of insight into what she’s thinking. The story pace is good and nothing seemed drawn out or badly rushed.

There’s definite spice, too! I appreciate that the author included a scene of Helen partaking in some self love with her toy! It’s not something that you see as often and I loved that it was included.

So if you love food, fake dating and Canadiana I highly recommend that you check this book out! It’s pretty cute!

Thanks to NetGalley and Jackie Lau for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest review!
753 reviews
January 23, 2023
Not Your Valentine is a slice of buttered toast of a book: It is consistent, universally likable, and calming. It fulfills the hunger for a nice, steady romance while being light enough for an anytime snack. And actually, the book is full of food, so don’t plan to read it while hungry.
I overall enjoyed this book, a friends-to-lovers romance. Unlike many romances, the tone and levity stayed constant, and I appreciated how the conflict stayed just the right size, leaving the mood happy and carefree even when there were issues for the characters. The main character, Helen, endured a public breakup on Valentine’s Day, and, a year later, feels pressure from friends and family to move on. To dodge questions about her relationship status, she enters into a mutually agreed upon fake relationship with one of her old friends from high school. From the very beginning, it’s clear that Taylor, her fake boyfriend, is the good guy of the story, and that they have feelings for one another. With main events that revolve around Valentine’s Day, the holiday was present, but didn’t overpower the plot, and frequent mentions of heart-shaped cake kept just enough sweetness throughout.
Younger readers may have an easier time relating to Helen- I found her lack of self-confidence and self-knowledge over the top, but can see how at a different point in my life, I may have related more, and if you have negative social media experiences, you may find it more warranted.
I also wanted more Lunar New Year! It was nice to see another holiday included, but I wanted more!

3.5/5 stars
~I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for girljustreading.
13 reviews
February 4, 2023
This is a sweet and spicy valentine romance based in Toronto with a fake dating & friends to lovers trope. I liked how the story brought awareness to Asian representation and racism.

Usually I'm one for the fake dating trope but I just couldn't get into it. The fake dating didn't enhance the story experience like the way I wish it did. I really wanted to like this book but it was awkward and at times I felt the second hand embarrassment through the pages.

It is also very insta lovey. Basically Helen babbles on about how her last boyfriend broke up with her on valentine's day. And somehow the break up got uploaded to internet which led to it traumatizing valentine's day for her for. Many months later it still haunts her.

Taylor aka her childhood friend is in town and they catch up over dinner. She's sick of her family giving her sympathetic looks because of how her last relationship ended so she bluntly asks him to be her pretend boyfriend. He surprisingly agrees.

Not much goes on other than her pining over her fake boyfriend. Basically she very much craves for a man's attention and Taylor seems to be the only man in her proximity.

Taylor is kind, sweet and great boyfriend material for Helen but he's also like a sugar cookie with no sugar. I wish there was more chemistry between them. I couldn't help but feel that everything between them felt transactional.

However, if you want a quick, face-paced valentine's romance then this book is for you. Overall, it was a cute valentine's day read but just wasn't my cup of tea.

Thanks for the arc, netgalley!
Profile Image for Sarah Carper.
413 reviews12 followers
January 26, 2023
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

This is the second book that I have read by Jackie Lau, both were Kobo Original stories. Not Your Valentine was a fun spin on a Valentine's themed story, though this was more focused on the time leading up to Valentine's Day, instead of the day itself. Something I love about Jackie Lau's books is the Asian rep that her stories include. Always a nice set of voices to read.

Unfortunately, this was a novella that I found to be a little too short. While there were many cute moments and things that made me smile while I was reading, I found that much of this was surface level and things moved way too fast. I found too much narrative, and not as much dialogue as I would have liked. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this book, however, I didn't find it to be amazing either.

The heroine of this story wasn't my favorite, though I did like the hero much more. I did like the fake dating trop between childhood friends that was included in this story. Overall, this book would be a good read if you're looking for a short, festive read around Valentine's Day.
Profile Image for Liana Lopez.
127 reviews2 followers
January 25, 2023
Thanks NetGalley, the author and publisher for having this available as an ARC.

I had so much fun reading this book. Helen’s internal thoughts had me laughing a lot! The whole premise with her ex dumping her on Valentine’s Day and have that break up go viral would be so devastating! In todays world, that really could happen, which is a bit sad as no one’s personal life should be on display like that!

I thought Taylor was so cute! Their friendship or should I say conversation did seem a bit odd when they met for lunch. It seemed as though Taylor was a bit short in his answers. I thought maybe he was reserved and when Helen asked to fake date, it’s like it opened his personality. I guess we found out later why that was.

I thought the pacing was good and length of the book was perfect. Loved Helen’s mum as it just reminded me of a typical Asian parent. Would have loved more scenes with Helen’s friends, so if this is made into a series, I’d be there for it.

This is easily a read that can be done in a few hours because it flowed so well.
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