One of the things you have to know about me to understand my adoration for this novel is that I LOVE “trash” reality shows: The Chasing series, The Housewives Franchise, OG Real World and the messiest of all: MTV’s Catfish. So a book based off two people falling for one another while catching a catfish? Right up my alley.
Kardea has pretty much everything going for her: Great career, loving (though incredibly messy) family, and supportive friends. The only thing missing is someone to share it with. But Magnus, the guy she’s spent nearly every night of the last two years texting and talking to over the phone— but never met— just might be man to change that. Between his photos, his voice,and how attentive he is, Kardea has every reason to believe her computer love just might end with an HEA until a broken promise and chance encounter shatter both her heart and Mag’s carefully crafted illusion.
Emiel is the kind of guy that took Mary J’s “No More Drama” as his life motto. At work and at play, he’s all about keeping things light, easy, and drama free. So when a perfect stranger rolls up on him with fury in her eyes and his face on her phone and he figures out someone is using his pictures to catfish, he should do anything other than offer to help her figure out who is using his face to play with people’s emotions. But he’s miffed that some stranger has violated his privacy and used his likeness to violate a woman’s trust. Plus, there’s something intriguing about Kardea. Drama aside, she’s his type and if she liked the knock off, maybe he can convince her to take a chance on the original.
I really enjoyed this book. There’s enough humor to offset the potential serious subject matter and the characters are a delight. Kardea and Emiel are scorching hot together (a little too hot for some perhaps) and the easy way they fall into flirting and then some just flows. Emiel is everything a book boyfriend should be: Kind, charming, ambitious, and just an all around good guy while Kardea is funny, flawed, and fabulous.
The narrative structure was a bit confusing at first because for me it read like I was expected to know these characters already. They are all (Kardea, her sister Bina and her Bina’s best friend Ally, their friend Ariane and Kardea’s parents) secondary characters from another series and I had been dropped in after all the introductions were made and characters already established. This was my first (but not my last!) AshleyNicole novel so that may very well be the case, but the novella is marked as a stand alone and looking through the backlist the only character I saw mentioned previously was Emiel, who featured in his brother Emery’s story.
The only other thing that made me raise my eyebrows (and this is a me thing, your mileage may vary) is the unsafe sex when they first hook up. The scene was hot and the chemistry was popping but I... was not entirely with that. And that’s okay, because again, that’s a me thing!
There are some moments that made me gasp, some that made me laugh out loud, and some that made me side eye the characters (idc if he got a Huawei and I got Nokia brick... in 2020 there’s zero excuses not to find someway to video call someone you’re feeling for TWO YEARS) but overall this was a delightful read. There’s enough of a swerve in just who the catfish is that the resolution to the mystery is anything but predictable and there’s a strong HFN that makes me super hopeful that we see these two pop up in future works.
If you'd like to pick up a copy of this novella, it's available through Amazon (affiliate link) and included in Kindle Unlimited.
Content Warnings: unprotected sex (see above)