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They look ... different.
That was Tinka Foster's first thought as she entered the baggage claim area and caught sight of her parents at carousel number seven.
They looked like themselves, but slightly off. They looked like aliens attempting to impersonate her mom and dad, but not doing a great job of it.
Her boarding school roommate, Jane Packer, who was staying with Tinka in Minnesota for the next four weeks, stopped next to her. "Are those your parents?"
Tinka snuck a quick glance at Jane, as guilt and regret nagged at her again. This was how it would be for the next month. Their last night at school would haunt her every time she caught a whiff of Jane's rosewater perfume. Shaking away the guilty feelings, she focused on her parents instead. "I ... think that's them." Tinka squinted. "What the hell did they do to themselves?" The people standing next to the baggage carousel were not the same couple she'd seen six months ago during winter break.
"They're adorable!" Jane took off running, rolling her pristine, raspberry Louis Vuitton carry-on behind her. A weight lifted from Tinka's shoulders as Jane left her side.
Tinka trailed Jane, delaying the reunion with her parents by a few seconds. Her dad was wearing shorts and an untucked collared shirt. And sandals. His phone was nowhere to be seen, which was maybe the most alarming part of all. He had his arm around his wife's shoulders and he was, incredibly, 100 percent present in this moment. Tinka had to rub her puffy, bloodshot eyes to make sure she was actually seeing what she thought she saw.
Her mom had dropped a couple clothing sizes over the past few months and had traded her usual polyester Old Navy dress and flip-flops for a perfectly fitted wrap dress and a pair of stylish strappy sandals. Her previously straggly, un-dyed hair was now cut in a chic, long bob and was streaked with highlights, making her now more blond than either brown or gray.
Tinka's parents hugged Jane, then, once her mom finally caught sight of Tinka, she started bouncing on her toes and clapping her hands with glee. Tinka's dad joined in the celebration and full-on waved to his daughter with a gigantic beam of delight and pride on his face. He shouted, "Tinka! Tinka, over here!"
Pretty sure she'd somehow entered The Twilight Zone, Tinka raised her eyebrows and let her aviator sunglasses fall from her forehead onto her nose. Though she'd missed her mom and dad while she was away at school, Tinka was simply too hungover to process their metamorphoses at the moment.
She hunched her shoulders, trying to appear smaller, almost invisible, as she slunk over to her parents. When she was close enough, her mother leaped the chasm of space between them and swept Tinka into a bear hug. Mrs. Foster kissed her daughter's cheek, and when Tinka was finally given room to breathe, she reflexively wiped her face to rid herself of any errant hot pink lipstick. That, too, was one of her mother's new features.
Her dad stood back, observing. He nodded when Tinka looked at him. She gripped the nylon straps of her backpack, waiting for her father to take the first step, not wanting to spook him with any sudden movements. Then he, still smiling like a fool, clutched his daughter to his chest and nearly squeezed the life out of her. "Welcome home, sweetie."
Her eyes watering from this unexpected display of affection, Tinka stiffened under his grip. "Sweetie" was not and never had been in her father's vernacular.
"Your mom and dad have a big surprise for us." Jane hugged Tinka's mom's arm. "I love surprises."
Tinka didn't love surprises, and neither did her parents, usually. They weren't surprise people. They were "we need at least six weeks of notice on absolutely everything" people.
The three Fosters stood in size order at the carousel — mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear, while Jane danced around them, taking in all the sights the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport baggage claim had to offer. "How was your last night at school?" asked her dad.
"Great," Tinka lied. She snuck a peek at Jane, who was chatting with a random three-year-old and his parents. It'd only been one of the worst nights of Tinka's life, no big deal.
Her mom was still doing the thing where she filled Tinka in on gossip no one in their right mind would ever care about, so, at least that hadn't changed. "Tinka, honey, you won't believe what I heard from Mrs. Tucker. She told me that Colleen Sullivan's son Conor is gay." She whispered the last two words.
"I don't know any of those people, and so?" Tinka looked to her father for help, but he was now staring at the baggage carousel like it was his job to do so. The luggage from her flight was starting to emerge. Jane found her massive raspberry suitcase right away. Some middle-aged man helped her hoist it off the conveyor belt.
Tinka's lack of interest in neighborhood gossip did not dissuade her mother. "Sure you do. Karen used to babysit for the Sullivans all the time. Or maybe that was Genevieve Torres. I don't remember ..." Her mother trailed off, trying to mentally reconstruct the tangled web of which of Tinka's childhood friends used to babysit for whom.
"I don't know, Mom," Tinka said.
"But you've heard about Karen's parents, right?" Tinka shook her head.
Ah, now her mom had a bombshell to drop. "They're getting divorced. It's official."
Tinka frowned. "That came out of nowhere."
"They've been separated for months."
A chill snaking up her spine, Tinka stared hard at the baggage carousel. Karen's parents were getting divorced, and this was the first Tinka had heard about it. Once Tinka had started forging a new identity for herself at boarding school, she'd let her relationship with Karen, her oldest and best friend in the world, fizzle out. Tinka'd had no idea Karen's family was going through so much. She should've known. She should've asked.
She was an awful friend. That was a fact. She was literally the worst. And Jane would be here for the next four weeks as a constant reminder.
Tinka's father's eyes were glued to the little door through which piles of luggage were now tumbling out. When he saw what he'd been waiting for, he dove past a family of four blocking his way and heaved Tinka's golf clubs over his head. "Got 'em!" he shouted in triumph, still grinning. "That's all of it, right?"
She shook her head. "I haven't gotten my suitcase yet."
Her dad was no longer paying attention. He'd removed the cover from Tinka's golf bag and was inspecting each club as a jeweler might inspect a diamond. He held up the three wood and squinted into the light. "Are the scratches from you, or are they new? I should've gotten insurance for these before the flight. You can't trust the airlines."
"They're from me." Possibly. Or Jane, who'd been using them in a last-ditch effort to reconnect with her golfer boyfriend, Colin, who had been in the process of dumping her.
Colin. Tinka shuddered involuntarily again. Colin. Tequila. His dorm room ...
Tinka's dad peered into her eyes, and she knew she was in for a shot of Old Dad, Stern Dad. She braced herself for the lecture that was about to come her way: These are Callaways, Christina. Special edition. They cost more than your tuition. She'd welcome his return to form.
But that's not what happened. Instead her father, still beaming, tossed the clubs back into the bag and zipped up the cover. "No big deal. Scratches happen."
Tinka stared at him, open-mouthed. Scratches happen? Not in the world of Tinka's father, Mr. James A. Foster.
He plopped the clubs onto the floor and put his arm around his wife again. Tinka's mom gazed into her husband's eyes like she was seeing him for the first time and it was true love. Jane watched the pair wistfully as if they were the most beautiful sight she'd ever witnessed.
Tinka was about to vomit. She wasn't sure if it was because of her lingering hangover or because the events from last night kept steamrolling through her mind or because of the Karen news or because her parents were being so touchy-feely — it was probably a combination of everything. Out of self-preservation, she kept her focus on the little door at the end of the baggage area, through which bag after bag kept spewing. Brown, green, blue, black ...
Finally, she spotted her own luggage. "My suitcase is here." She nearly took out the family of four herself as she hurled her bag off the carousel and rolled it in the direction of the exit.
In the car, Tinka leaned back and closed her eyes, already regretting inviting Jane home for the month. Tinka had crossed the streams of her life. At Florian's Academy, she was the good time party girl. In Minneapolis, she was the homebody whose parents kept close tabs on her and dragged her to golf lesson after golf lesson. Jane expected her to behave one way, and her parents another. She was going to twist herself into knots juggling her two personae for the next four weeks.
"You seem tired, Tinka." Her mother turned around, practically kneeling on the passenger's seat. They had purchased a new car while Tinka was gone, a silver luxury SUV. ("Liquid Platinum," her dad had called it.)
Though it was late in the evening and the road was pitch-black save for the street lamps and the headlights from other vehicles, Tinka was able to make out her mother's surgically whitened grin in the darkness. So this is what she's been doing instead of calling me every five minutes. Tinka had been replaced by new clothes and cosmetic dentistry.
"Tinka's tired from the dark party last night," Jane said.
Tinka shuddered and rubbed her bare arms. She couldn't tell if the goose bumps were from the air conditioning or the conversation.
"Dark party? What's that?" There was a teasing glint in her mom's eye.
Jane opened her window a crack and flicked a bug off the glass. "At the end of the school year, the students throw this big bash out on the football field, but it has to be completely dark — no lights, no phones — because it happens in the middle of turtle mating season and the lights mess with them."
Mrs. Foster frowned. "What do you do at the party if it's pitch black out?"
"We can still have music going, so there's dancing and stuff." Jane shrugged.
Tinka shivered again. That was a loaded word, "stuff." Everyone needed to get off this topic before she either threw up or had a heart attack. Fortunately, this was when Tinka realized that her dad was driving in the wrong direction.
"Uh, where are we going?" she asked. "Minneapolis is back that way."
"That's the surprise, honey." Tinka's mom blinked, staring at her daughter for a few beats, waiting for some kind of response.
Jane clapped her hands. "Ooh. Yay!"
"I kinda just want to go home," Tinka said, after a moment. "And home is the other way."
Her mom grinned cryptically. "No, honey. Home is this way."
A lump formed in Tinka's throat, a lump of despair she should get used to. This lump, along with the guilt in her gut, would probably stick around for most of the summer.
Her father chimed in. "Maybe you should tell the girls what the surprise is, Eleanor."
"Well, honey, you know how your dad's business has been doing so well lately and how we've always wanted to buy a place in the country?"
"You bought a place in the country," Tinka deadpanned.
"Yay!" squealed Jane. "A country house!"
Tinka blinked back tears that threatened to spill over. This was nothing new. She always had to go along with her parents' whims and wishes — like boarding school and the golf team and absolutely every other thing in her life. She forced a smile. Looking happy was half the battle. The rest of her would catch up eventually. "Exciting. And on Monday we'll go back home."
Mrs. Foster glanced at her husband. "No, we're going for the whole summer. This is where we live now. Your father and I sold the house in Minneapolis. Surprise!" She grinned again at Tinka, but this time her smile didn't seem so sure of itself.
Well, now, this was on-brand for her parents — making huge, life-altering decisions without her input.
She sensed Jane's eyes on her, waiting for her reaction. Tinka widened her grin, really playing up the feigned excitement. She probably looked like a clown. "Wow. You sold our house. That is a big surprise." Tinka pictured the living room, the formal dining room, the entire upstairs all her own. The kitchen. Now someone else was living there. They'd probably ripped down her pastel balloon wallpaper. They'd probably painted over the crayon drawings on the living room wall, the dinosaur she talked to like it was her guardian angel.
There'd be time to mourn later, in private, away from her parents. For now, at least, she had to keep up the appearance of being all right with this situation. This was how things worked. Her parents made the decisions. Tinka went along with them. It was her job to keep them happy, and she took that job very seriously. "Where's my stuff?" she whispered, still smiling like everything was cool.
"At the new place, honey," her mom said. "We think you'll love it. There's a lake and running paths and some great new neighbors."
"And you can golf all summer long." Her dad grinned at her in the rearview mirror.
"But what about Jane?" Tinka asked. "Her parents think she's going to be in Minneapolis this summer, not ... where's the new house?"
"North Pole," her mom said.
"The North Pole?" What the hell was going on?
"No, silly." Her mom patted Tinka's hand. "North Pole, Minnesota. It's a quaint resort town, Christmas-themed, about three hours from the cities."
This did not compute. "A Christmas-themed town ...in the summertime."
"Exactly," her mom said. "Christmas three hundred and sixty five days a year. That's the motto. You're going to love it."
"But Jane —"
"My parents dropped me off at school and left me to fend for myself while they're in Dubai. Minneapolis, North Pole, Cleveland — it's all the same to them."
Jane didn't get it. She'd never get it. Sure, Jane had to scramble to find people to stay with over breaks, and her parents weren't around if she got sick or hurt or whatever (though her grandmother was available in an emergency), but she had so much autonomy. Jane was seventeen years old and her parents saw her as an adult.
Tinka's parents saw her as a baby who happily went along with whatever they wanted.
"So, we won't be going back to Minneapolis at all?" Tinka's voice wavered, but she focused on the back of her mom's chair, trying to distract herself, to find something positive in all this. The negatives were winning out. She was homeless now, basically. She lived in a rented dorm room in South Carolina, and she was about to spend the summer in some strange house her parents had bought without even telling her they were moving.
She pinched the skin between her thumb and forefinger and focused on that physical pain instead of the sadness. Jane reached over and squeezed Tinka's hand, which only made Tinka feel worse. She, of all people, did not deserve Jane's sympathy.
"I don't know if we'll have time, honey," her mom said. "There's a lot to do in the new place. You're going to love it. Trust me. Why don't you lie back and rest and we'll be there before you know it."
Sam Anderson picked a chocolate chip off his muffin and popped it into his mouth.
"What about Marley Ho?" asked Harper. "You like her."
Sam frowned at his sister. "Isn't she dating Kevin Snow?"
"They're just casually dealing with each other." Harper played with the straw in her iced mocha with whipped, her summertime drink of choice at Santabucks, North Pole's resident coffeehouse. The A/C was on full blast, and reindeer wallpaper covered the walls. The baristas wore Santa hats, no matter the season. It was December in here all year round. "Kevin's vile," Harper made sure to add.
"What about your friend Elena?" asked their brother Matthew.
"She has a boyfriend now, duh-doy," said Harper. "How do you not know that? Oliver. Prince." She raised her eyebrows.
So did Matthew. "One of the Prince Princes? You never mentioned that. Were they together when I saw her in Florida over spring break?" Matthew lived in New York and missed out on the most salacious North Pole gossip. Whenever he came back to visit, he relished catching up on all the happenings around town.
Excerpted from "Artificial Sweethearts"
Copyright © 2017 Julie Hammerle.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another cute, sweet visit to North Pole, Minnesota, which is a very Stars Hollow-esque town (Gilmore Girls, anyone?), complete with their own "Kirk" and lots of quirk! Sam is the youngest son in the Anderson family and he is tired of the pressure he keeps getting to date someone. He makes the mistake of going on a date with a girl who is a bit vengeful when slighted, and winds up fabricating a girlfriend. He was a likable guy, though I definitely found him to be a bit of a pushover. He was very sweet and thoughtful, but really needed to learn to stand up for himself more! His sweetness did, however, provide a nice balance to Tinka's self-centeredness. Tinka was fairly fun for a bit... and then her friends got mad at her and she got pretty annoying. She didn't have quite the character arc that I would have liked, and didn't really get much of a wake-up call. I also didn't care for how she treated her parents, especially towards the end when she gets angry with them without much actual reason to be. Tinka's family suffered a loss years before, and the grief aspects were a nice addition to the story and a well-executed device: present, but not too heavy. North Pole is always fun (for those who have read the first book in the series) and the Christmas in July aspect was really charming!
Heads up! This review contains spoilers. This was a quick read for me. I loved Sam and Tinka and their denial of the chemistry they kept feeling throughout the story. I'm a huge sucker for fake romance books! Artificial Sweethearts didn't disappoint! It was a nice change to read about a female character who was the pretty girl who knew she could hook up with any guy she wanted but had already realized it didn't appeal to her anymore. The dynamic with her parents intrigued me from the start. The romance was cute, but for me, the meat of this book was Tinka coming to terms with her role in her family. It was fascinating to see the different ways each member of the Foster family dealt with the death of her older brother, Jake, who died when he was four and she was one. I really enjoyed watching their growth as a family and individually as they came to terms with the very private feelings of mourning over the death of such a young child. I felt like Tinka's growth could have been expanded a bit more. I would have liked to have a bit more explanation of why she pushed everyone away. I'm guessing it had to do with her parents and the way they pushed her away. I feel like the author needed to bridge that gap just a little better. But it was addressed enough that I was able to fill in the blanks. My guess is that her parents emotionally distancing themselves from her because of their inability to deal with their grief and that was what influenced her reaction to do the same to her friends. It was beautiful to see her finally talk openly with her parents about their feelings over Jake's death, and consequently her issue with constantly pushing her closest friends, and Sam, away. Overall, this book was a good read with lots of cute moments and swoonworthy scenes. The chemistry building between Sam and Tinka felt realistic and they were fully-fleshed out characters with real issues, hopes, and dreams coming to terms with issues they needed to overcome. I highly recommend it!
Artificial Sweethearts by Julie Hammerle is book two in her North Pole, Minnesota series. Though the story mentions characters from the previous book, overall, it can be read as a standalone. The novel is about Tinka Foster and Sam Anderson who, with pressures outside of their control (i.e. family), find that they need each other's help to help ward off any unwanted suitors thrown their way. So they agree to fake date during the summer. An easy plan until it becomes uneasy especially when both begin to wish their newfound relationship were real and no longer pretend. I liked Ms. Hammerle's Artificial Sweethearts. I found the characters interesting, particularly Sam. He and his family were my favorite part of the book. Tinka, as a heroine, grew on me. Truthfully, she wasn't my favorite person in the beginning and she felt kind of all over the place for me with how she behaved in regards to Jane, Karen and her whole relationship with her parents. However, when she was with Sam and she let her guard down, so to speak, she began to appeal to me. I liked her growth through the story and I think that is what helped me like her more as a character. Also, her and Sam's connection, though fake at first, builds and improves her has a character as well. This is somewhat reminiscent of the other North Pole book, Any Boy But You. As Sam and Tinka's relationship gets more real, the book gets better (same as in Any Boy But You). This was definitely a story where the made up relationship and fake boyfriend/girlfriend, not only worked as plot but also helps you like the characters better. Overall, Artificial Sweethearts by Julie Hammerle was an entertaining novel that had moments that I loved especially between Tinka and Sam, and the scenes with Sam and his family. I would easily recommend. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
the second book in julie hammerle's north pole series, artificial sweethearts, introduces us to tinka foster, who quite frankly is kind of an emotional mess. her entire childhood has been overshadowed by her brother's accidental death when she was an infant. and she's spent all her time avoiding confrontation because she can't handle people being unhappy with her. the problem with this approach is that people are still unhappy and this makes tinka even more unhappy. home for the summer after a year away from her parents, everything feels wrong. especially when her parents surprise her with a new hometown, her old best friend who she isn't currently speaking to, and a golf instructor/potential love interest that she isn't interested in. ever since she went away to boarding school she's felt out of control, and all these changes make that sensation feel worse. she expected to come home and settle back into the routine of making her parents happy. but now they seem capable of doing that for themselves. the foster family is totally the poster family for what happens when you avoid conflict and talking things out in the open. tinka's parents have made strides to heal themselves and their relationship, but they have completely forgotten about tinka. and so even when tinka's behavior comes off as self-absorbed or selfish you kind of get it, she has no idea how to approach problems with emotional honesty. everything in her life has been about hiding her true feelings, and at some point all that bottling up with lead to an explosion. sam anderson really gets it. the emotional avoidance. the bottling up of feelings. the making everyone else happy at your own expense thing. all of those things tinka does, he does too. the main difference is that sam is inherently selfless, so he does all these things at his own expense. while tinka is more into self-preservation. but this understanding is what draws them together. sure there's also the whole fake relationship thing. but that's just an excuse. because the reality is that they are both totally into each other. it's just that emotional honesty isn't something they are used to, confronting things head on, not their thing. so you see how they are meant to be. even though this is the second book in a series, it stands alone. we do still see some of the small town quirkiness and characters we loved in any boy but you, but if you haven't read the first book, you will still enjoy the second. one of the things i really enjoy about these books is that the characters aren't perfect. they are flawed, and things blow up in their face even when they have the best of intentions. but this also lets us see how they grow. and also how letting people into your life can change you for the better. **artificial sweethearts will publish on july 10, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled: crush) in exchange for my honest review.
I was so excited to visit North Pole again!! While this is the second book in this series, it can definitely be read as a standalone. Tinka has just moved to North Pole with her family. She's completely out of her element, doesn't understand what is going on with her parents, and is trying to figure out how to keep away from a guy they keep trying to set her up with. Sam is Tinka's next door neighbor, always has a smile on his face, and rolls with everything that comes his way. He's the ultimate movie geek. Tinka is the ultimate baker. When they both need a relationship to ward off their families, they enter into a mutually beneficial fauxmance. But as their friendship grows so do their feelings. I love this series. It's heartfelt, deals with real issues, and draws you in so you have no choice but to keep reading. There are so many fantastic characters in this series and I can't wait to see what's next for the residents of North Pole! *This is my voluntary review of an advanced reader copy*
“Artificial Sweethearts” is a cute and quick YA romance about Tinka (short for Christina) and Sam. Tinka is home from boarding school and learns that her parents have moved away from everything she knows in the Twin Cities to a small town named North Pole. The town is pretty unique, as people have taken the name pretty literally and turned into a year-round Christmas attraction. To make matters better, Tinka’s parents have purchased a fixer-upper and expect her to help them fix it up all summer. Tinka has arrived in town with her friend from school, Jane, who is super upbeat and positive though sad about a recent break-up. They are joined by the extremely moody Karen, Tinka’s former BFF who really hates her and doesn’t seem to want to be there. Tinka’s family has just moved next door to Sam’s family. Sam is the third of four kids, and heading off to college after the summer. He’s primarily planning his brother’s wedding and making sure everything is all set for that while holding down a job at the video store and generally being amazing. He seems to think he is pretty unattractive (the usual YA teenage girl stereotype) although others seem to think he’s very attractive. After being pushed into awkward encounters with the terrible Dottie (vengeful and rude), he makes up a fake relationship with his neighbor to keep her at arm’s length. He admits this to Tinka when he starts to get to know her, and she ends up using the same excuse to keep her parents from trying to set her up with their friends’ son, Dylan (who seems a little sleazy). Although the book starts off a little rough with a lot of characters to figure out, it grows on you as Tinka and Sam grow on each other. Tinka experiences a lot of personal growth as she must confront her mistakes and the shortcomings of her parents. It’s really predictable but had some really great moments throughout. Sam and Tinka might be the most thoughtful and introspective teenagers I’ve read about in a YA book. It’s a really fast read- needs only a sitting or two to finish. There are the classic blunders of a fake relationship in this book, and it was overall extremely predictable. If you are on the market for a fake-relationship-turned-more book, this would be a great choice! I had some mixed feelings, so I am giving it three stars or "I liked it" (mostly for predictability, awkward events, and a rocky start but a cute book overall). Nothing bad about the book, per se, but nothing stellar either. Notably, this book functions as a stand-alone, although part of a series. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
I am a huge fan of the fake bf/gf plot line, so I was pretty excited for this one. Tinka is an okay MC. Her weird situation with her parents has sort of forced her into being selfish and making rash decisions when things are up to her. Sam is straight up adorable and he's the main reason I kept reading. Both of them do a lot of things they don't want to because their families are oblivious. Plot wise, it was a lot of push and pull, some lying, and some sweet moments. I wish it could have been a bit less drama filled, but with the amount of backstory it was probably impossible. Overall, I was intrigued to see how it was all going to end and Sam and his dimple kept me charmed. **Huge thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing the arc free of charge**
There are certain storylines that just do it for you, and I love a blooming fake relationship. Artificial sweethearts is the second book in the North Pole, Minnesota series, however, can definitely be read as a standalone. Sam needs a date for his brother's wedding, or at least that's what his family thinks. He just wants them to get off his back. Tinka doesn't want to be set up with Dylan. Her family think he's perfect for her, but she wants to be left alone. She has other issues to deal with. Sam is a good guy and needs a little relationship help himself. As you can see a plan is falling into place. It seems so simple. A fake relationship is beneficial for them both. A friendship is formed, and they are happy to spend time together. They can both relax around each other, and be themselves. A few kisses, flutters and back seat snuggles aren't a big deal. Right? I really enjoyed this little gem. Tinka has good personal growth throughout the book, and Sam isn't her usual type. She learns to think of others and get rid of her bad habits. Sam is sweet, nerdy, and totally loveable. This book has an interesting storyline, and I loved the addition of a July Christmas. I can imagine some people going nuts for that chance to live in North Pole, Minnesota. 5 out of 5. An easy read that's sweet. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review*
I really really enjoyed this one. Tinka and Sam were such a cute couple. I love the fake relationship trope anyway and in a YA read it was extra cute. Both these characters had family issues they are dealing and it seems a little easier dealing with everything together. This is a nice clean read with some truly great characters. I highly recommend this one.
3.5* Cute, sweet, and while at times frustrating, Artificial Sweethearts is an enjoyable read. I thought the storyline was great- the "fake" boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance trope is one you see more of in the New Adult genre so it was fun to see a young adult take on it. I really liked Tinka and adored Sam. They each had their own issues and problems they were dealing with when it came to family and friendships and I loved seeing how they, and their relationship(s), grew and evolved over the course of the book. While Sam and Tinka kept me entertained, I struggled with most of the side characters. Tinka's parents, Sam's brother and sister, and Tinka's best friend, Karen, all annoyed me, and that caused me not to love this book as much as I would have liked. Jane, Tinka's friend from school who came home for the summer with her, and Hakeem, Sam's brother's fiance, were the 2 bright spots in the supporting cast. There was just a distinct lack of communication all around which led to a lot of headache and heartache. When people finally started opening up and talking to each other, expressing their feelings and frustrations, it made a world of difference. I think that's a lesson that everyone could take away from this book- communicate! Don't just let things fester until you're buried under a weight you really don't need to be shouldering. The setting for this book was unique and really became a character in its self. I was happy with the way things were resolved, for Tinka and Sam, with Tinka and her friends, and for Sam and his family. I didn't realize this the second of a series, but after looking back at the first book it just seems they are all set in the same small town. I didn't have the feeling I was missing out on anything by not having read the first book, so I do believe these can be read as standalones. *Arc received courtesy of Entangled via Netgalley.
Tinka & Sam are neighbors with a common cause. They are sick of others trying to set them up with people completely unfit for them. They mean well, but really, who can choose but you for a significant other? Sam is interested right away. Only he has virtually no experience with which to entice Tinka to be his. So he goes along with the scheme he unwittingly started out of desperation. Along the way, they start to feel more real. If only they could both be on the same page..... This book was seriously what we call a slow burn. I was really turned off by how shallow and petty most of the characters were. I was about to put the book down - when, would you believe, it started back the other way. I felt every feel with this story and at the end was never so happy to get my HEA. ***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and its publishers.