Etta

Book Review: Kiss Her Once For Me (ARC)

Expected publication: November 1st 2022

Author: Alison Cochrun

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

After loving Cochrun’s debut novel, The Charm Offensive, I was nervous that her sophomore novel, Kiss Her Once for Me. This story follows Ellie Oliver, who currently works at a dead-end job in Portland at a coffee shop after her dream animation job went awry. She meets Andrew and the two of them make an agreement where Andrew will help Ellie financially if she acts as his fake fiancé, so he can get his inheritance. Everything seems on track until Andrew takes Ellie to meet his family and his sister turns out to be Jack, the girl Ellie fell for a year ago.

The story is told in two timelines, present day and one year ago, which means the reader learns more about each character and their relationships over time. I love the way that Cochrun writes her intimate scenes. These are not limited to sexual encounters between the characters as it expands to any of these moments, even tiny interactions. They are written in a realistic way where the characters do not have to be stereotypically perfect. They could have some hair in places, softer features, etc. With the rest of the romance, though, I think I needed a little more to understand the relationship. Ellie is written as demisexual yet seems to love Jack in a very short amount of time. While I cannot confirm or deny that this is possible, it does not align with my understanding of the subject, and I wish there was more explanation for this situation.

Even though Andrew was not the endgame, given the whole premise of the story, I loved him as a character and found myself invested in him getting any type of satisfying ending. He interacted well with both Jack and Ellie, and I loved their side of the family. It was a nice contrast to Ellie’s relationship with her abusive mom. These elements were all very well done and a great illustration of Cochrun’s writing where there is a nice balance between the deeper topics and the lighter humorous ones. Despite all the great writing, I did have difficulty getting over Jack and Ellie as their relationship rekindles as Ellie is in a fake relationship with Andrew, so it was difficult to connect in it. Due to this the story was not my favorite, but I absolutely love Cochrun’s writing, so I have conflicting feelings. I would still recommend this to others and hope they give it a try themselves. As I continue to love Alison’s work and I cannot believe I will have to wait until 2024 to read her next novel, Here We Go Again!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Atria Books, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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