Blurb: He smiles. Mr. Grumpypants actually smiles at me, a full, real, heart-stopping smile with mirth dancing in his eyes, teeth flashing, and his cheeks dimpling up behind that layer of dark scruff.
Be still my panties. I think I’m in trouble.
If people have polar opposites, Luca Rossi is mine.
His butt is in the baseball hall of fame. Mine’s comfortably seated in the hall of lame.
When he’s not snagging fly balls out in center field, he’s modeling in shampoo commercials. I once jammed my own finger while stirring cookie dough, and sometimes I forget shampoo is a thing.
He’s a total cynic when it comes to love.
I make a living writing love stories.
But after my latest broken engagement (no, I don’t want to talk about how many times that’s happened), it’s clear he’s exactly the man I need.
If anyone can teach me to be the opposite of me, it’s him.
The first thing I want him to teach me?
How to not fall in love.
And as luck would have it, he’s in desperate need of a fake girlfriend to get a meddling grandmother off his back.
We couldn’t be more perfect together, because the last thing Luca Rossi will ever be is the next man to leave me at the altar.
Or will he?
Real Fake Love is a line drive straight to the heart featuring a grumpy athlete, a jilted bride, a fake relationship, and the world’s laziest cat. It stands alone and comes complete with sibling rivalry, the world’s most awkward shower scene, and a sweetly satisfying happily ever after.
Real Fake Love is the latest entry in the Copper Valley Fireballs series and has all of those components that you expect from a Pippa Grant: slapstick comedy, conversational writing, eccentric characters, personable pets, and an involving romance.
Henri(etta) is a wonderfully sweet, awkward character, an imperfect Pollyanna come to life, well, fiction. Real Fake Love opens as she endures another failed attempt at getting married. Unfortunately, Henri, seeking the love she’s never received throughout her life from her self-absorbed family, sees it in every man who pays attention to her. Finally in tune to that fact, she decides Luca Rossi, a man who never falls in love, should be the one to teach her how not to fall in love.
For the most part, I was captivated by Henri and Luca, Nonna (the eccentric grandmother) and Dogzilla (the laziest cat in the world who is daily dressed in costumes (poor cat)) and the vast cast of characters; yes, there are almost too many characters drifting across the pages. Most of the slapstick humor works, but there were a few scenes/incidents that just were “ick” and could have been edited out without losing anything from the story. In fact, if I never again had to think of Nonna observing Luca giving oral sex to Henri on a kitchen counter, I’d be a perfectly happy camper. Also, I might be out of touch but is it really funny for toddlers to pull down their pants in a hospital room and pee? Not sure why we had to go there. Creating a scene demonstrating high emotion and chaos probably could have been obtained in other ways.
I know I’m in the minority, but the book could have safely lost around 30 to 40 pages, ones in which my attention wandered and I stopped reading for a bit, ones in which the narrator’s verbal diarrhea (fitting description due to the frequent scatological ambiance) became repetitious. Less is frequently more.
Regardless, I genuinely enjoyed Real Fake Love. It’s pure escapism with a sense of humor especially for those of us who are baseball and romance loving readers.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 out of 5 butterflies
Henri, in the middle of
weird to be sitting on the doorstep of the man I cyberstalked after his whole love sucks speech after my failed
wedding. But I won’t apologize for waiting for Luca here at what I think is his
house, because you don’t get what you need in life if you don’t go for it.
Dogzilla and I should be waiting in my car instead? At least that way, I could
turn on the radio while we wait. And the air conditioning.
I’m about to move
to the car when a clunker chugs around the corner, one headlight out, and turns
into the driveway.
definitely the wrong house.
I’m sitting on
the porch of a stranger’s house, hoping that’s a woman driving, because if it’s
a woman, at least I know I won’t be in danger.
Of falling in
love with her at first sight, I mean.
The engine shuts
off, and while I don’t often trespass at midnight, I have this feeling that
jumping up with Dogzilla and making a run for it right now is exactly the wrong
move. A well-timed, “Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone else,”
will give us all a laugh, I’ll take my cat and leave, and then two complete
strangers will have a weird story to tell their friends over margaritas—or an
iced tea, in my case—and huh.
This would make
an excellent meet-cute for my friend Dorothea’s next steamy romance novel. I’ll
have to drop her a note too.
The occupant of
the car is still sitting in it, and the figure illuminated by the street light
looks too big to be a woman.
He also seems to
Is he hitting his
head against the steering wheel?
If I picked the
house of a nutjob, all bets are off.
“Be ready to
run, Dogzilla,” I whisper.
My lazy cat
doesn’t move, and instead snores in my lap.
Easier this way
anyway, since it’s not like I can count on her to follow alone when I take off
running at full-steam.
happen all that often, if we’re being honest here. I’m a writer, not a runner.
The way his hair
That is Luca Rossi.
I rise, cradling
Dogzilla, and when Luca looks my way, I give him a finger wave and a smile.
The light isn’t
bright enough for me to see what he’s saying, but his lips are definitely
moving, and if I’m not mistaken, he’s wearing the same long-suffering
expression my father usually has when I tell him I’m engaged.
It might also be
remarkably similar to the expression Luca was wearing when he recognized me at
Duggan Field earlier today too.
Not my intention
to ambush him at work, I swear. I was curious about the ballpark—I’m curious
about a lot of things—so when I caught wind on social media of a writer
organization that was touring the park, it was easy enough to get here in time
today to join the group.
And it was
fascinating to see where the players work out, to smell the chairs the
announcers sit in, what it feels like to stand in the dugout, and hear how many
light bulbs have to be replaced every day.
There’s a pop and
a creak as the car door swings open, and I suddenly desperately need to know
why Luca Rossi, millionaire sports star, lives on a grocery store clerk’s
I like to do
It’s one of the
things my ex-fiancé Kyle liked about me.
My brain hears what the hell are you doing here, and why
are you between me and my bed, and I’m not asking out loud because I don’t honestly
want to know.
I either have a
lot of experience understanding people because I write good characters, or I
have a lot of experience with frustrating men after five failed engagements.
Plus my lifelong
relationship with my father.
Great game tonight. That catch you made in center field was like—”
where I didn’t move, the one where I stepped three feet to my left, or the one
where I had to take two steps back?”
Okay, yeah, he
had an easy game. “How did you know where the ball was going to be? That’s
like—it’s like you’re psychic.”
being a professional.” He squeezes his eyes shut briefly, opens them,
eyeballs Dogzilla in my arms, and then sighs again. “To what do I owe the
pleasure of your company tonight?”
Wow. He’s cranky.
Not gonna lie.
I know it’s
But that’s no
excuse for not forging ahead. I didn’t come all this way to chicken out.
“You remember the last time we saw each other?”
afternoon in the clubhouse?”
your hat, but I meant the time…before that.”
He closes the
distance between us with three casual steps. “Nope.”
And I go
momentarily speechless as a waft of something delicious teases my nose.
momentarily. A quick recovery is a gift. Or possibly a defense mechanism.
“The time we were together…in that town…with that big monument…and the
thing that didn’t—”
to block it from my memory.”
Thank you. That’s very kind of you. Sorry. I didn’t realize—”
wouldn’t want to remember your ruined wedding, that you like to redecorate
people with dessert, and that your ex-fiancé is the first man that my mother’s
dated in three years and I might have to start calling him Stepdad?”
My heart also weeps
because yeah, still not over seeing Jerry lock lips with a woman who could’ve
been my mother, and hearing that it might actually be going somewhere is salt
in the wound.
Henri, I don’t remember the last time we were together. At least, I won’t, once
I get inside and pour myself a large enough vodka tonic. Care for one?”
Once again, I’m
momentarily speechless. “Um, I’m kinda allergic—”
I cut myself off
when one of his brows rises infinitesimally, and then I gasp. Of course he
knows I’m allergic. We had an entire conversation about it. “Are you trying to send me to the hospital?”
“No, but I am trying to get into my house. Alone.
Preferably without the sad panda thoughts I’d finally managed to shake before
you showed up today.”
was a hint.”
with the subtle.”
He swipes a hand
over his mouth and looks up at the sky, and I’m certain he’s not stifling a
Time to forge
ahead. “I’m here because I need your help.”
“And now I
pay the price for my sins,” he mutters.
I’d ask what his
sins are, but my google searches were very
really would be the last person on earth I’d turn to for help.
want money or anything like that. And I’d rather no one know I’m here, so I’m
not after your fame either, though I wouldn’t mind some tips on how to get my
hair as good as yours always is. I’ve tried Kangapoo before, and—wait. Sorry.
Off-topic. I need you to teach me how to not fall in love.”
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