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Faking It With the Grump (Second Chance Café #1) by Kate O’Keeffe



Harper Cole

It’s one thing to be dumped by the huge Hollywood star you thought you were going to marry. It’s quite another to move back to the small town you’re both from.

As a booby prize for being shown the door by Dex Ryan, everyone is trying to set me up with their son, their nephew, or their long-lost cousin’s gardener. Either that or they’re throwing me pitying looks that say, “You’re a big loser.”

I’m not going to put up with their patronizing sympathy anymore.

So, when I spot new-guy-in-town Christopher Young, I set out to make him mine. Or you know, pretend to make him mine. I’m still in a horrible funk over Dex, and Christopher is an uptight grump. Not exactly my type.

The fact that despite appearances, he’s gorgeous and doing weird things to my blood pressure doesn’t mean a thing.

Really. Not. A. Thing.

Christopher Young

Hunter’s Creek, population next to nothing, is the reason I work all the time. I’m solely focused on buying the town’s lumber mill so I can go back to NYC and get my big promotion. This small town is a means to an end. Nothing more.

That is until the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen superglues her lips to mine in an unexpected and very public way. She’s not the kind of woman I usually go for with her boho dress and ankle boots, but that kiss…

I’m disappointed when she comes up for air and tells me it’s all for show. But if Harper Cole wants me to be her fake boyfriend while I’m here in town, who am I to turn her down? Being attached to a local might ingratiate me to the townsfolk and make my job that much the easier.

After all, dating Harper can only be make believe. Nothing more. Not when my entire future is at stake.

Faking It With The Grump is a grumpy-sunshine, opposites attract, fake relationship romance set in the small town of Hunter’s Creek, Washington. It’s the first book in the new Second Chance Café series. Each book follows a different sister’s love story and can be read as a standalone novel or as part of a series.

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Have you ever given up your dreams for that one person who only turns around and breaks your heart? Ms. O’Keeffe tells a lovely story about following your dreams and finding your happy. 

Harper Cole is back in her hometown of Hunter’s Creek getting over her first love and local hero who humiliated her by dumping her in a public place while she dumps a drink on his selfish assholey head. Did I mention he’s an upcoming actor and the event was posted on social media? Needless to say, Harper is reminded daily of her failure, but she’s ready to start over with her dream job as an elementary school teacher in the place she loved. Enter the handsome uptight corporate suit, Christopher Young, a management consultant visiting the local mill. In Harper’s mind, he would be a great candidate for a fake relationship to get the locals off her case about the ex and, in turn, he could win hearts by being her boyfriend. After all, everyone loves their small-town girl who has come back home to stay. The first kiss was to convince everyone of their ruse, but the ones after that were for real. Can she keep this up knowing he’s leaving in two months?

Christopher Young is on his way up the corporate ladder and hopefully, this trip to Oregon will seal his promotion in the firm. He’s worked hard to get here to take care of his younger sister and make sure they are financially secure. The people of Hunter’s Creek have welcomed him, but no one more so than the beautiful and charming Harper Cole. When she suggested the fake relationship with a surprising kiss for show he thought she had lost her mind, but the kiss disarmed him and the chemistry between them was electric so he gave in. It was out of character, but he couldn’t stop thinking of her. What was happening to him?

Harper and Christopher’s Hallmark love story is sweet and full of well-meaning, meddling family and townspeople. Harper is well-loved in her town. She’s a helper and a people pleaser to the detriment of her own happiness and well-being. Christopher is so reserved and focused on his career to his sister’s dismay that he needs to loosen up and have some fun. As opposites go, these two meet the requirements, but the advantage is that Harper lights Christopher up while he calms her. They slowly fall in love; however, their time together has an expiration date. Christopher confesses the real reason he’s in Hunter’s Creek and has a life-changing request for Harper. It’s a game-changer for Harper which tears them apart and makes them miserable, but there’s a happily ever after with a grand gesture that saves their hearts and the town.

I am delighted to recommend this engaging story with fun characters in a lovely small-town setting.

Thank you to Ms. O’Keeffe for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review. 

Second Chance Cafe Series:

1. Faking It With the Grump (2023)
2. Faking It With My Best Friend (2023)
3. Faking It With the Guy Next Door (2023)


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Faking It With the Grump

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Kissing Christopher Young is, well, it’s not what I expected.

Sure, he’s a good-looking guy, so kissing him is not exactly a hardship, despite the fact he’s a million miles from my usual type. He’s all buttoned-up and serious looking, like he would be zero fun at a party, and only moments ago he was looking at me as though I was a crazy person.

Which wasn’t at all fair.

All I was trying to do was explain the very reasonable situation I find myself in, in which I’m pretending to date him, but then I spotted my boss standing behind him and was forced to make the snap decision to just go right ahead and kiss the guy.

Okay, now that I think about it, I may have come across as a little less than sane. I’ll concede that much.

And yes, it’s probably a confronting experience to have some random woman you met for three seconds not only tell you she’s pretending to date you, but then turn around and kiss you.

I get it.

Not my most calculated move.

What I don’t get is why kissing Christopher Young feels so unexpectedly good. His lips are soft and inviting, and his scent is an attractive mixture of fresh, woodsy air and some kind of musk, which takes me completely by surprise.

I’m not sure what I expected him to smell like. Corporate offices and boring files? Freshly ironed shirts and dry-cleaned suit jackets?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t this


Kate O'KeeffeUSA TODAY Bestselling Author Kate O’Keeffe writes exactly what she loves to read: laugh-out-loud romantic comedies with swoon-worthy heroes and gorgeous feel-good happily ever afters. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand with her family and two scruffy dogs. When she’s not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), traveling to different countries, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.

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