Monday, November 19, 2018

Sarah's Review: He's Not My Boyfriend

He's Not My Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
Publisher: Jackie Lau Books (November 20, 2018)
Series: Chin-Williams, 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Now that her cousin has tied the knot, Iris Chin—structural engineer, party girl, and queen of kitchen disasters—is the last single grandchild. Her mother and grandmother are desperate to play matchmaker, though Iris doesn’t understand why. They had miserable marriages, and she doesn’t want to be like them. She enjoys her independence, thank you very much. One-night stands are more her style.

Unfortunately, she soon discovers that she’s working on a project with her latest one-night stand, Alex Kwong, a construction supervisor. She’s determined to stay professional on the construction site, but things get off to a bad start when Alex lets slip to a co-worker that they slept together.

To make matters worse, Iris is now living with her grandmother, who keeps stealthily setting her up on dates and sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, and her mother is just as bad. But more than anything, it’s her unwanted feelings for Alex that are derailing her plans to have an exciting single life…

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Sarah's Review:

After reviewing Lau’s Not Another Family Wedding, I got an ARC of her forthcoming novel Not My Boyfriend and it was a delight to continue learning about the Chin family!

Iris Chin is the last single grandchild of the family. She is content with her job, her carefree lifestyle, and causal romantic encounters. Her family loves her and they all seem to want to be involved in matchmaking for her- from her grandmother, with whom she lives, offering to cook for any men she brings to the house, to her mom actually surprising her on Saturday mornings with a potential husband in tow. Iris’ life is a pleasant sort of chaotic...until she sleeps with Alex Kwong on a whim and realizes they are working on a project together. She is determined to be a consummate professional and he lets it slip that they have been together. Everything about this is professionally uncomfortable, but Iris and Alex feel oh so right together.

The more time they spend together, the better it feels. They fit together in all the right ways and this derails Iris’ exciting single life plans. She wants to stay single because she sees how her grandmother bloomed after her grandfather died. She learned to speak better English, takes cooking classes with her friends, and is mastering how to use a Kindle to read romance novels. Iris also thinks her parents’ interracial marriage is more work than she is willing to do. She doesn’t see an upside to being in a relationship.

As the title suggests, Iris spends a lot of time protesting (too much) that Alex is Not Her Boyfriend even though they might just be what each other needs. As is the best impulse of love, they are better together even when we see them with other folks in their lives. What I mean by this is Lau does a great job of fleshing out the MCs as full people with full relationships beyond each other. Iris and Alex meet their friends for drinks, have meaningful work relationships, and have touching, complex relationships with their parents. And their best impulses work in those other relationships even as they insist that (s)he’s not my boyfriend! Because they are going together they grow in those other relationships. Alex perhaps says it best:

Now, more than ever, he wished he had Iris.  He wished he could hold her, feel her fingers moving through his hair, scraping across his skin.  Making him feel whole. 
Dammit, he missed her. 
He loved her. 
He loved her so, so much.

Besides letting her characters grow beyond the romantic relationship, Lau does a great job of fully exploring other relationships our MC have. Alex and his dad have a strained relationship since his mother has died. Iris and her grandmother are getting to know each other as adults and roommates.  This kind of writing makes the romance so much better and lets readers fall deeper into the universe with the characters.  Lau is a great writer and this is a great story.


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Source: eARC (author)

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Thanks for the review, Sarah! 


Until Next Time,

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