Sunday, September 24, 2023

He's Not My Boyfriend by Jackie Lau


Jackie Lau is one of my favorite romance authors. I love how her heroines always have some realistic flaw, whether it's fear of commitment or clinical depression. And her heroes are the exact same way. Her books aren't about perfect people falling in love, but about people with relatable problems finding people who accept them as they are while also complementing their strengths.

HE'S NOT MY BOYFRIEND is about Iris and Alex. Iris is a structural engineer by day, party girl by night. The latest guy who receives the favors of her inner fuckgirl is Alex, a construction worker (at one of the sites she manages, no less). Iris doesn't believe in commitment, in part because of the tremendous pressure she gets from the rest of her family to settle down. Alex, on the other hand, is kind of emotionally withdrawn because he hasn't gotten over his mother's death. She always tried to matchmake for him, and since she's gone, he's started to avoid things that remind him of her.

I wasn't really prepared for how emotional this read was. It contains one of the funniest scenes I have ever read in a romance novel (I was seriously dying), but it's also gut-wrenching as well, with pretty forthright discussions about getting older, mortality, and grief. The humorous and heartfelt moments lessened the angst-factor, but if you've recently lost a parent or loved one, I could see this book being pretty triggering or traumatic.

The star of the show is definitely Iris's grandmother, Ngin Ngin. She's the best character in this book and stole every scene she appeared in. I would literally read an entire series starring this nosy, meddling, mahjong-playing, smutty Harlequin romance-reading hero of a granny. Characters like her are honestly so satisfying to someone like me, who never really had any grandparents she was close to. It's like getting to enjoy vicariously what I never had.

HE'S NOT MY BOYFRIEND would have been a five-star reading if it weren't for the 80% mark breakup that this author always does, whether it fits the story or not (thanks, I hate it), and something else really sad that happened, which I would have liked more closure on. But apart from that, I absolutely loved this book to pieces and will be reading more from this author in the future.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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