by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
What happens when fake dating looks a lot like being a gold digger? Sleuthing and misunderstandings ensue, which brings plenty of amusement, awkward moments, and fun.
In Talia Samuels' The Christmas Swap (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), which I'm listening to thanks to Libro.fm's ALC program, Margot Murray agrees to join one of her clients, Ben Gibson, for a getaway at his family's mansion turned hotel that promises to be luxurious.
Despite Margot's trepidation, she's on the heels of a very hard breakup with her girlfriend and is dreading her other holiday prospects. When Ben admits that he cannot face another year coming home single and dealing with endless questions from his parents, Margot takes him up on the offer to enjoy a bit of luxury.
But Ben's sister, Ellie, is unexpectedly already there when they arrive, and she immediately catches whiff of the awkward vibe between Ben and Margot and decides in order to protect her brother, she needs to figure out what is truly happening.
As Ellie seeks out ways to subtly interrogate Margot, the two of them find themselves together frequently, and Ellie is shocked to discover how charming, fun, and friendly Margot is. But these feelings do not distract her from her goal of sabotaging what she is sure is Margot's mastermind plan to get into Ben's family pockets. Between keeping up appearances for Ben's family and the increasingly demanding texts from her ex-girlfriend, Margot has her hands full.
This is a fun, quick read that is perfect if you're looking for seasonal reading. I appreciated the twist on the fake dating trope and loved seeing the way that the truth becomes clear. Despite the fun atmosphere and the playful tone, Samuels touches on some important issues like boundaries in relationships, mental health, and coping with aging family members, all of which add depth to the text. Add in snow, chilly weather, and an adorable dog, and it's a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with this fun cast of characters.
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