Like I Pretended by Charlie Novak (Heather Bay Book 4)

Henry is intrigued by snarky coffee shop owner Alex; I mean who turns a famous handsome actor down not once but twice. Alex doesn't do relationships, and being in a fake one with Henry seems impossible, but they really do get along, maybe too well. When their chemistry heats up, they expect the inevitable heartbreak that will happen between a globetrotting celebrity and a loyal small town boy. 

From the Like I Pretended blurb:

Pretending to be in love never felt so real.

Henry Lu hates being a superstar. Action movies have left a sour taste in his mouth and filming a queer period drama on the Yorkshire coast sounds like the perfect antidote. Meeting grumpy coffee shop owner, Alex, is the cherry on top.

Alex isn't impressed with the appearance of Hollywood royalty in his life, especially because Henry refuses to accept that Alex doesn't like him. But when rumours about the production draw the attention of stuffy streaming service bigwigs and the ire of Henry’s superhero franchise, Henry and Alex must put on a show and fake a relationship to smooth things over.

Alex doesn’t want a relationship, and Henry isn’t good at them, but their arrangement is only supposed to be for a few months, then they'll both be free to go back to their lives. The only problem is that pretending to be in love never felt so real.

Like I Pretended is a slow burn contemporary MM romance featuring a sunshine Hollywood superstar whose never been told no, a grumpy coffee shop owner who wants to be left alone, bad attempts at flirting, terrible catering, and finding home.

It is book four in the Heather Bay series and while it can be read as a standalone, it’s best enjoyed as part of the series.

SNik's Review:

Fourth in series (Heather Bay), can be read as a standalone but might be more fun if read in order. Fake boyfriends. Found family. Slow burn. Dual POV. 

Henry is in Heather Bay to star in a new TV show and certainly doesn’t expect the local coffee shop owner to be entirely uninterested in his flirting. Alex has sworn off relationships, and even a gorgeous famous actor can’t tempt him, but when Alex is asked to be Henry’s pretend boyfriend it feels right to help instead of saying no. Both Alex and Henry are likable, committed to their friends, and slowly realize that being friends is easy and the attraction undeniable. I enjoyed that they took time to get to know each other, communicated honestly, did not back down from the risk of a broken heart, and were romantic with each other in a sweet and swoon way. Every interaction between Alex and Henry was entertaining, their conversations and steamy times. Loved seeing all the found family secondary characters from this series and fun cameos from the author’s Roll for Love series.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Heather's Review:

Like I Pretended is my favourite story to come out of the Heather Bay series!  I also love how it integrates so many people from the Roll For Love series AND gets Henry his well deserved HEA, but I digress... 

I absolutely love that Alex is indifferent and almost rude to Henry and that he continues to up the snark and disdain to hide his interest, until presented with the fake dating scenario... and Henry is just so intrigued by being told no...

This story mixes small town with a steamy period TV show drama with an opposites attract and found family story line with a great slow burn... The author says this book can be read standalone, and I agree in principal, but what made me love it was the cameos and interactions with the other Heather Bay couples, Henry's brother and their friends and the other actors on set... so, more than any other book in the series I truly think you need to read this one in order (and go back and check out the Roll For Love books too)

Rating: 5 Stars

Sheena's Review:

I read all 4 of this series in very short order, and enjoyed them all. It was just what I was in the mood for, low angst, small town, a mixture of tropes in each book, a decent amount of heat and always with a nice HEA.

You could read as a standalone but I feel it's better as part of the series, it's a group of friends each getting their own story and they're in and out of each other's stories all the time as they're very close. When I started the series, the story I really wanted to read was Alex's, he really intrigued me from the first time I met him, and I've got a real soft spot for grumps getting their story and happy ending. I love that it was with Henry too - while we didn't meet him until this book, he's been present in mentions from the start, and he was perfect for Alex.

From the off, I loved the interactions between Henry and Alex, I loved that Alex treated Henry as he would anyone else. Fake boyfriend trope I can usually take or leave, but for the purposes of this story it did work even though it wasn't fake for very long. It's a nice build of the relationship and I enjoyed very much getting to know both Henry and Alex. This is such a good series, and I think this may be my favorite so far.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Like I Pretended is available in e-book and paperback formats and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.