Leah Latrelle needs a man, fast. To keep her parents from freaking out and moving back to Chicago, she invents a boyfriend who quickly turns into a fiancé. Her plan works until her parents announce they’re visiting for Christmas—tonight. Now Leah has no choice but to come up with the goods. Her friend and business partner Mick is handsome, dependable, and a willing sacrifice. What could go wrong?
‘Tis the season, and Mick Kilpatrick can’t say no to a damsel in distress. Especially when that damsel is a woman he cares about professionally and personally. But being a dad is priority number one, and a sexy woman like Leah will only distract him. He’ll pretend to be her fiancé, but when it’s over, everything will go back to normal. Sure, he’s fantasized about her once or…a million times but that doesn’t mean he’s in love with her. Does it?
“Mick, tell me, how’s Petey doing?""Petey? Who the hell was Petey? He glanced at Leah and grappled for an answer.Although she turned in his direction, she didn’t look him in the eyes. Not directly, anyway. Her gaze was decidedly askew. What the hell—?BangHer fist landed on the table and the vibrations this action caused appeared to make her tremble until her head jerked with a curt nod of finality. “Dead.”Three collective gasps sounded. He would have said four, but his was more like a hiss. He studied Leah and waited to see if she was going to add more to this fascinating declaration. Petey…was supposed to be his grandfather? Father?Clearly soused and unsure of where to take her little tale, she shrugged and turned to her dad. “It was the angina that got him. He’s in a better place. Poor guy. He was the cutest three legged sixteen-year-old you ever saw.”Mick tried to make sense of that, but the accompanying visual was pretty horrific. Truth be told, he was glad when Rita put him out of his misery as she placed a gentle hand on his arm and whispered, “I’m sorry about the loss of your pet.”Pet.Leah’s dad cleared his throat. “Sorry, Mick,” he held up his champagne flute. “Here’s to Petey.”Mick picked up his glass and turned to Leah, freezing mid-toast. The defeated look in her eyes stopped him cold. “Sweetheart?” Was her confidence in their plan fizzling? She wasn’t even trying.“To Petey.” She waved her glass in a sloppy salute and then downed the contents in two cheek-bulging gulps. Then she slammed her glass back to the table, gave him a broad wink and mumbled, “Giddy up.”Oh, he was going to ‘giddy up’ all right, but before he could, she yanked the table cloth on either side of her cutlery, shifting everyone’s plate. The abrupt action forced him to make a grab in an attempt to halt the slide, preventing complete disaster. Perfect. Tipsy and in panic mode. A dangerous combination. She needed to get in the game, drunk or not, but he didn’t get the chance to tell her as Cassandra tugged on his shirt.“So, Mick, where did you and my sister meet?” Her assessing eyes roving over him sent a warning bell ringing in some corner of his brain.“Meet?” Shit. They’d gone over this, as well as where he’d proposed and where their first date had been, but the pressure was getting to him. He couldn’t for the life of him remember which was which. He willed Leah to look at him, because as long as she paid attention and went along with what he said, it didn’t really matter what their story was. Consistency was the key. But in spite of the covert SOS he was throwing her way, he was out of luck. She was too busy hunched over her champagne glass, with one eye closed, and her bottom lip caught between her teeth as she attempted to refuel. Fantastic.
Review by Melissa Snark:
Some romances are Cinderella stories. Others are Beauty & the Beast. WHITE LIE CHRISTMAS is a Pinocchio tale of duplicity that results in hilarity and a heart-warming scenario where two people somehow manage to fall in love in spite of their best efforts to the contrary. My favorite part of the story was the witty, wicked humor present throughout.
This contemporary novella is set in scenic Chicago, and features a zippy plot and snappy dialogue. I believe I detected variations in "voice" as the story progressed, but that's easily attributable to the fact that there are two authors instead of just one. So it's not necessarily a bad thing and it made the hero's POV distinctive from the heroine's, which can sometimes be an issue in romance. I found the secondary characters to be well developed and used in the right proportion so they advanced the romance.
Leah Latrelle and Mick Kilpatrick are partners in a real estate agency. As the story begins, Leah's lies to her parents (about having a fiancée) are coming back to bite her on the butt when her family decides to unexpectedly drop in for a visit over the Christmas holiday. Mick volunteers to help her out by pretending to be her significant other. Throw in a suspicious sister, two oblivious parents, a cute little boy and a cougar client, and you have a recipe for laughter and love.
As a hero, Mick is instantly likeable—a devoted single father, sweet, considerate and handsome. There's so much about him to love. He is complex and easy to emphasize with and I was rooting for him right from the start. His long-term attraction to Leah is convincing, as are his reasons for having delayed becoming involved with her. His love scenes with Leah are sensual and wonderfully descriptive. I appreciated the fact that they weren't rushed and really hit the right emotional notes.
The heroine is a little crazy. I felt confused for the first half of the story about Leah's motivation and her behavior frustrated me. Don't get me wrong, I actually prefer a heroine capable of executing deception over one of those vanilla "I cannot tell a lie" types. But unlike the title, Leah's lies aren't white. They are big. BIG. And snowball with some extremely funny results. But funniness aside, it's my nonprofessional opinion that the heroine needs therapy.
WHITE LIE CHRISTMAS is an excellent choice for a reader who loves to laugh, Christmas stories, and "fake fiancée" romances. Happy reading!
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Christine Bell is the USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romances, and one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. She doesn't like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold 'Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate...or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun, sexy romances, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons. Christine also writes erotic romance under the pen name Chloe Cole and YA fiction as Christine O’Neil.
Christine loves to stay in touch with readers, so please feel free contact her via her website www.christine-bell.com and on Twitter @_ChristineBell.
Riley Murphy writes sexy, humorous and emotional romance, happy ending guaranteed. An optimist, she believes life is awesome, people are complicated, but in a good way, and we should never stop learning. Riley currently resides in Florida with her gorgeous husband. She has two wonderful kids and one very bossy English Bull terrier she has dubbed ‘The divine One’. When Riley’s not working she enjoys reading, oil painting and getting to the Sunday crossword puzzle before anyone else does, so she can fill-in all the easy answers first. If Riley wasn't a writer she’d be an international spy with top-level security so she could have a peek at Area 51 and decide for herself if those green guys are for real. Failing that she’d probably go with chicken sexer. Riley loves to hear from readers. Swing by and say hello to her on her website at www.AuthorRileyMurphy.com or connect with her on twitter @Riley__murphy where she’s always sharing her deep-dark secrets.