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Digital Reads Reviews

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Make-Believe Match - From One Night Lust to Forever Love

Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and reviews. This is a review of a contemporary romance by Melanie Harlow, Make-believe Match
Shalini
Make-believe Match

Table of Contents

Blurb

Make-believe Match

Fall in love with my enemy? No way.

Marry him to save my family’s struggling ski resort? That’s a different story…

Getting hitched is the only way I can inherit Snowberry Lodge, and I’ll do anything to spare my childhood home from the wrecking ball–even wear Devlin Buckley’s ring on my finger.

Not that I’ll enjoy it. Sure, he’s charming and handsome, and that no-last-names one night stand we shared ended with a fantastically big bang. But I’ll never trust him–he was working for the company trying to bulldoze my life.

Right up until the day he knocked on my door with an offer I couldn’t refuse.

It’s temporary. Strictly business. Purely for show. Until I realize how much I like it when he says  “wife.”

Once we’re sharing a last name–and a bed–our make-believe match starts to feel a little too real. And if I’m not careful, I could lose everything… my home, my dreams, and my heart.

Enjoyable
3/5

Publication Date: November, 2023

Book Links

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through this link at no extra cost to you at the Kindle and Audible store.

My Review

What was Make-believe Match all about?

Make-believe Match by Melanie Harlow is a standalone romance book, though it was said to be the third in the Cherry Harbor Tree series. I vaguely recollected the other two books, but having knowledge of them was not needed. The author managed to do a good job in writing a complete love story. 

Lexi wanted to save her beloved ski lodge and when her one night stand proposed to her literally in order to fall in with the terms of the will, she readily agreed. Their chemistry was as strong as ever. 

She thought she would be okay for a divorce after six months until she found herself falling in love with her husband. 

I remember loving the first book in the series and cringing at the second one. Compared to the other two, this book lay somewhere in the middle. Though the zing in the banter was slightly low, the second half felt to be more uplifting than the first. 

The Hook

Trigger Warnings: oodles of steamy scenes. 

Make-believe Match had a lot of heat, and I loved seeing both the characters fall in love with each other. 

Kept to the formula, circumvented the third act break-up with a pretense separation, love did happen slowly, so was engaging down the pages. 

The Characters of Make-believe Match

I liked reading about their lives. There was a lot of immersion into Devlin’s family in the Cherry Hope Tree, and no…you didn’t have to remember all of them even with this setting because the author provided quite a bit of backstory. 

Somehow, in this book, I couldn’t feel the depth in the characters, as none of them managed to evoke emotions from me. Not like book 1 where I found pulse quickening and excitement warring with lust. In this, the characters lacked oomph so their conversations too felt to be similar to those written in all other love stories. 

I believed their dialogues, but I coursed on the surface of their lives. The words were to blame for the lack of emotions in the book. 

The Intricacies of Make-believe Match

Come on, this was a Happily Ever After story, so the plot line could not be so varied. And the author too stayed true to the romance writing template. Nothing wrong with that. The romance brought much comfort and made for fast reading. 

Steamy scenes were kept to every few chapters around 80 pages or so. The breakup was shown as a soul-searching separation, rather than a real one. Even with all the sections of the formula in place, the second half managed to engage me more than the first half. 

Emotions didn’t feel real, but they were not cringy like book 2. I would say I was satisfied reading this one. It was enjoyable. 

The Setting

Could have had more worldbuilding. I didn’t feel she was fighting for her ski resort as that feeling of being high in the mountains did not come about. Also, they spent most of their married life in her home, so descriptions to give visual impact of the rooms in her house were missing. 

The Pace of Make-believe Match

Steady with moments of dragging was the overall thought. This could be because none of the characters brought a smile to my face.

The style of writing - The Prose

There was nothing distinctive in this style of writing, nothing that could make me read a chapter or two and know it was a MH book. Sad, but true. The books in this series had been getting a more generalized feel to it, barring when the characters had to go to the Cherry Hope Tree and then the scenes of Devlin’s family had to be modified to go with the flow of this book. 

This book Make-believe Match was good, but the strength of the author’s voice had been waning for quite some time now. 

How Make-believe Match made me feel

Make no mistake, I enjoyed the book. But it was nothing great or with superlative writing where I could experience all the emotion of the characters. Make-believe Match was a good read. 

I wished the author would go back to book 1 and find her magic. Keeping my fingers crossed that book 4 would be as fun as book 1.

Book Make-believe match kept on bed for instagram post

Do I recommend this book, Make-believe Match?

I would say read book 1, skip/skim read book 2, then get to book 3. You would understand what I am saying. 

Having realized I had forgotten to write my reviews here, I added them below. Check them out.  

These books are available on KU. Have a look-see.

Run-away Love by Melanie Harlow

picture of Runaway love book on bed for instagram
I liked it
5/5

Publication Date: May, 2023

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through this link at no extra cost to you at the Kindle and Audible store.

Book Links

Blurb

Yes, I’m a single dad who needs a nanny for the summer.

But hire the stranded runaway bride who shows up on my doorstep in a wedding gown with no references, no skills, and no experience?

No one is that desperate.

Except within twenty-four hours, down-on-her-luck Veronica Sutton manages to charm my kids, my family, and half the population of Cherry Tree Harbor into believing she’s perfect for the job.

And for me.

So I should have kept my hands to myself.

Holding her in my arms was a big mistake. Even worse? Spending the night together. She ignites a possessive fire in me that I’m finding hard to snuff out.

But the most unforgivable? Growing attached to the sound of her laugh, the scent of her skin, and the way her body wraps around mine in the dark.

At the end of the summer, she’ll be gone.
And if I’m not careful, she might run away with my heart.

My Review of Runaway Love

It was so cute and fun.
Runaway bride who became a nanny and fell in love with her employer. 
Formulaic but the writing made it so much fun. The characters made the story come alive, complementing each other perfectly. 
With the right amount of steam in their attraction along with hot, dirty sex mixed with fun banter, this was the perfect distraction that I needed from reality. 
Caught my attention right from the first to last page, this book clicked with me.
Complete five stars for giving me pockets of happiness today to the book and the author. 

Hideaway Heart by Melanie Harlow

book Hideaway heart on kindle on bed for instagram
I liked it
2/5

Publication Date: August, 2023

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through this link at no extra cost to you at the Kindle and Audible store.

Book Links

Blurb

All I wanted was a break–two weeks off from being Pixie Hart, country music sensation, and fourteen days of peace, privacy, and solitude as plain old Kelly Jo Sullivan. But thanks to some overzealous paparazzi, my family refuses to let me go anywhere alone, and I’m stuck sharing this tiny cabin with a tall, dark, and bearded stranger.

And guess what? There’s only one bed.

Well, he can couch it.

Xander Buckley might be hotter than a stolen blow torch, and I get that he’s a former Navy SEAL and all, but the man gives new meaning to the words overbearing, overprotective, bossy alpha male. But he’s made it clear that what he says goes, and if I don’t like it, I can kiss my vacation goodbye.

Instead, I end up kissing him.

What’s even more shocking is how good we are together. He understands my need for freedom, and I understand his need for control. But emotional trust doesn’t come easily to me. And we’re on two completely different paths.

Without question, I’d put my life in his hands.

Just don’t ask me to give him my heart.

My Review

The book ticked all the check boxes a romance book ought to have, minus the third-act breakup
They met and gave in to their lust. A distant threat neared them, and it was all Xander needed to save his lady love Pixie.

But something felt off in Hideaway Heart

No real spark between any of the characters, including the mother-daughter relationship. Everything about Kelly felt to be forced as if she was perky against her will. Even the sarcasm was weird. No genuine personality. Annoying was more like it 
Their love making didn’t feel sensuous. It felt forced. Left me so cold. 
No buildup of tension, no electricity of attraction
FMC was pretty dumb and casual about her own safety. She wanted a vacation, away from the world, but kept taking pics for Instagram, revealing her entire address. Shown to be weirdly immature. 
Why did women have to be shown to be such idiots? Didn’t we have far better sense of self-preservation?
This was deliberately done so that MMC can be exasperated by her and probably show some zing of their attraction. Nope. It failed in epic proportions.

In conclusion

The banter felt to be fake, awkward, no zing. I visibly flinched at places. Cheesy much? 
Very predictable storyline. If you were following the formula, at least the atmosphere ought be genuine. 
For me, it felt AI had written it, taking parts of other books without any input from the author to make the scenes come alive. It tried too hard.
Cringy at worst, less than average at best. 

Check out the other books available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

I got the physical version of the book from a friend, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.

If you’ve loved the review, buy me a cuppa to perk me up.

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