Expected publication: October 31st 2017 by Swoon Reads
Format read: ARC via publisher
But Charlie has a plan: Rig the paper’s Secret Santa and win his heart with five perfect gifts. Enter J.D. Ortiz—Teo’s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, unorganized, and spontaneous—the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he knows what Teo wants, so she’s stuck with him.
Yet the more time Charlie spends with J.D. the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?
Shani Petroff has written a genuinely adorable book about Charlotte “Charlie” Donovan, a perfectionist who has set her mind on winning over Teo Ortiz. She plots her efforts to conquer him around her newspaper’s Secret Santa, and enlists Teo’s cousin J.D. to help. But as she playfully bickers, mocks and gets to know J.D., Charlie starts to feel confused about her feelings…
So first things first: you’re going to want to have cookies on hand while you’re reading this. Charlie’s friend is an expert baker, and Petroff has a way of describing her treats that will absolutely make you hungry while reading.
Second, be prepared for some genuinely thoughtful commentary on conflating perfectionism and orchestrated relationships, with a perfect relationship. Much like the equally witty I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, Petroff’s Charlie initially believes that relationships are a thing that can nudged and perfected, through the right situations. But through trial and error, she eventually learns that relationships can’t always be pushed into the right situations, and are often actually mysterious.
This discovery is partially invoked by the ever-cheerful J.D., who isn’t afraid to tease, provoke and sometimes outright stand up to Charlie. Though at some points he may seem too perfect for words, Petroff is careful to emphasize that his perfection, comes from his willingness to be real with Charlie. This is someone who wants to see all of her, regardless of whether it’s perfect or not – e.g. a certain caroling scene, that had me grinning. It’s what being genuine really means, and readers will be gratified to see how Charlie learns from it.
Without giving away the ending, I’ll just say: it ends on a pitch-perfect note.
Highly recommend, full stop.