ARC review: Artificial Sweethearts by Julie Hammerle

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Tinka and her best friend-slash-roommate Jane head home to Minnesota for the summer after spending the year at their South Carolina boarding school. Tinka is looking forward to some relaxation.  To shedding the party girl persona she wears all year. To just kicking back and catching up with her friends from home.  What she doesn’t expect is the shocking revelation from her parents that they’ve moved to North Pole, a town where it’s Christmas all year.

Tinka’s parents have bought a wreck of a house.  It’s falling apart around them, but they seem convinced that with enough help from Tinka and Jane, it’ll feel like home by the end of the summer.  Tinka, still reeling from the revelation that her childhood home isn’t hers anymore, is less than thrilled at the prospect of a summer of manual labor in a town where she knows no one.  She’s also pretty embarrassed that her BFF has to be a part of this.

Throw into the mix parents who’ve completely changed – partying like teenagers, trying to set her up with their friends’ very attractive but highly annoying son, throwing caution to the wind and leaping before they look – and Tinka is pretty miserable.  She’s never been particularly happy at home, feeling like she must constantly compete with her brother Jake, but this summer takes the cake for the actual worst  The one bright spot in the summer comes in the form of Sam, her new neighbor.

Out of the four Anderson siblings, Sam has the reputation for being the good guy.  He never complains. He goes with the flow. Tease him as much as you’d like and he’ll never do anything but smile. Sam is the glue that holds the Anderson family together, and his older brother’s upcoming wedding has only increased his family’s expectations.

Sam and Tinka click almost instantly.  Tinka likes Sam because he doesn’t judge her for the mistakes she made at school.  He just accepts her as she is.  Sam likes Tinka because she’s honest.  She might feel pretty guilty about what happened back at school, but with Sam, she can own up to it and try to become a better version of herself.  When Tinka grows tired of her parents’ matchmaking efforts and Sam gets fed up with his siblings’ relentless teasing over his perpetually single status, the two agree to a fake relationship.

But what happens when a fake relationship starts feeling more and more real?

This book was very cute and I really liked both Tinka and Sam. It’s an incredibly fast read that kept me entertained throughout, but it does fall victim to one of my least favorite tropes: Poor Communication Kills.  Sam and Tinka are great about communicating.  Early on in their friendship, they lay everything on the line, no matter how embarrassing. It’s a shame that these two crazy kids couldn’t communicate about their actual feelings.  If they had, this could have been a five-star review.

But even with that complaint, I still really enjoyed this book.  The secondary characters, particularly Hakeem and Dottie, made this book great.  (And for very different reasons!)  This is a great book for those times you’re looking to wind down after a hard day. It’s easy to read with just enough tension to keep you going.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free copy of Artificial Sweethearts from Entangled Crush via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.