Faking Under the Mistletoe, by Ashley Shepherd

Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was such a nice idea: A Christmas romance! Ok, the author added “office romance”, “enemies-to-lovers” and “fake dating to evoke jealousy in an ex” but if that actually had worked out, I probably would have loved it.

The beginning is very promising even: The banter between our heroine, Olivia, and her grumpy boss, Asher, is amusing, sometimes even witty and almost always funny.
The atmosphere is charged between both of them and had Shepherd kept doing this, added some kind of conflict to solve before the “happily ever after”, everything would have been great.

»“Cozied up on the couch. Snuggled under blankets. Snow falling outside. Christmas movies. Cake. We’re living a Lifetime special.”«

When I read that, I was sure this had to be great! And it was until I came to the second half of the book which manages to derail it completely…

If you still want to read this book, take care, huge spoilers follow…


Unfortunately, every minor issue is blown out of proportion: Olivia and Asher are caught almost in the act in the office – and Asher’s reaction is to call it all off? What kind of guy does that? Ok, I thought, this shouldn’t be hard to salvage…

Olivia goes out for a kind of “girls night” to console herself and I expected something to go wrong. I did not expect Olivia to have poor enough judgement to accompany a known sexual predator, Levi, whom both her circle of friends and Asher warned her strongly about into a »curtained off rooms his handler is guarding«.

Olivia is sexually assaulted there and has to find out the next day that Asher knew exactly about said predator and his methods.
She decides that…

»Levi is never going to touch another girl the way he touched me tonight. I’m going to make sure of it.«

At this point, I thought, ok, this will be harder to recover from because the man Olivia loves knew and didn’t do anything about it. I was still holding out hope because the book started out so well and Olivia’s courageous decision not to let Levi get away with it was something I appreciated.

Even though, I must say, I don’t think a book that’s basically supposed to be a light Christmas romance is the best place to deal with the very real problem of sexual harassment or assault.

Then comes the next sexual assault, Asher making a fool out of himself, Olivia allowing Asher (who knew and did nothing) and her boss, Ana (who knew and did too little), to lull Olivia into complacency and waiting for something big to happen about Levi…

This is the point where the book started losing me – further entanglements, e. g. a kiss, ensue – and when Asher and Olivia finally make it up with each other it’s just too late for me. Shepherd has already managed to completely derail her storytelling “train” which was moving along so nicely in the beginning…

Last and least, I do enjoy a certain amount of well-written smut in a romance. In this case, the “build up” is rather nice but (anti-)climaxes in a meagre »“Well,” I say after I’ve been sufficiently ravished.«…

Ultimately, “Faking Under the Mistletoe” started with a bang, went shortly serious and ended in a whimper.

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