Monday, February 26, 2024

Review: CANADIAN BOYFRIEND by Jenny Holiday

Publication Date: January 30, 2024
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher | Purchased


A charming and heartfelt romance about a woman who comes face to face with the fake Canadian boyfriend she made up as a teenager.

The fake Canadian boyfriend. It's a thing. The get out of jail free card for all kinds of sticky social situations. “I can't go to prom; I'm going to be out of town visiting my boyfriend in Canada.” It's all over pop culture. But Aurora Evans did it first. Once upon a time she met a teenage hockey player at the Mall of America. He was from Canada. He was a boy. She may have fudged the “friend” part a little, but it wasn't like she was ever going to see him again. It wasn't like she hurt anyone. Until she did—years later—on both counts.
When pro hockey player and recent widower Mike Martin walks into the dance studio where Aurora Evans teaches, he's feeling overwhelmed with the fact that his wife may not have been exactly who he thought she was and the logistics of going back to work. As one of the few people his angry, heartbroken daughter connects with, Aurora agrees to be a pseudo nanny to help him navigate the upcoming school year and hockey season. To his surprise, she turns out to be the perfect balm for him as well. Aurora gets him. The real him underneath his pro jersey. And yet, he still finds himself holding back, unable to fully trust again—especially when he finds out the secret Aurora’s been hiding from him.


"He's not fake.
He's Canadian."

That tagline is all that it took for me to become desperate to read this book. Well, that and the fact that I LOVE Jenny Holiday's books. 

I've sat with my thoughts about CANADIAN BOYFRIEND for a while and I'm still not sure how I want to share them. I fear that I'll become too confessional and the book will come across as too sad and it may keep a reader from picking it up. Like Mike Martin, a recent widower, I am a widow. And every book that I read is now through that lens. It can't be helped. It can't be changed. And in books like CANADIAN BOYFRIEND, I usually relate to the saddest parts. That's what resonates with me. Don't let this review fool you. This isn't a sad book. It's fun and charming and it's my hope that readers will discover that for themselves. I'm very much looking forward to rereading the audiobook version where the humor will come through more. The intention will be more noticeable than what I brought into the story as I read it.

I straight up loved CANADIAN BOYFRIEND. As I began telling some family members about the book, I could feel the joy overcome me and felt the smile on my face and I could feel it throughout my body. And that was just from thinking about the book and how connected I felt to it. I even asked them if they could see how much I loved the book by how my demeanor changed and the happiness I exuded just talking about it. They could see it.

What I Liked:
  • The love between Mike and his daughter, Olivia and how they interact with each other 
  • Mikes flirty texts to Aurora
  • That it is always Mike Martin and always Aurora, never Rory. Then Aurora Lake.
  • The growth that Aurora experienced as she worked on healing herself and lived her life for herself. Especially when she recognized her self worth - setting boundaries and saying yes to the things she wanted and no to the things she didn't.
  • On the page, in the office therapy - with real talk, real questions, real revelations 

Some Favorite Quotes:

"It's our depression car." - IYKYK

"But with Mike Martin, kissing felt like the whole point." - This gives all the yummy, fluttering feelings.

"Holy cow, therapy was a lot of work." - Yes. Yes, it is.

Jenny Holiday writes about grief with compassion and she honors the experience in a touching, humorous, and relatable way. Seeing the many ways grief shows up in characters like Mike Martin and Olivia and in books like CANADIAN BOYFRIEND is both comforting and validating. It makes a reader like me feel less alone. For that, I thank her. 

Disclaimer: I requested and received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I've purchased a final version of the book for my personal library. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

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