At 27, Winnie is on the verge of becoming an old maid. And she’s just fine with that. In medical school and studying for admission to an exclusive training program, Winnie just needs a few more years to get her life in order before she can even think about getting married.
But her mother has other plans.
Winnie’s mother orders her to return home for Chinese New Year to meet a young man she is sure Winnie will agree to marry if she only meets him. But Winnie won’t let anything—even her overbearing mother—stand in the way of her own goals and dreams. So she does the one thing she is sure will get her mother off her back—she hires a New Year boyfriend.
Kai’s life is a wreck. Working two jobs to help pay for his mother’s cancer treatments, Kai has no time for family, fun, or love. But when he sees a job advertisement for posing as a New Year boyfriend, he can’t pass up the opportunity for some quick and easy cash.
It was supposed to be strictly a business arrangement. But as Winnie and Kai’s worlds come crashing down around them, their fake relationship might be the only real thing they have left.
About the Book
The New Year Boyfriend
by Zoey Gong
Red Empress Publishing
November 20, 2018
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The New Year Boyfriend is a great contemporary romance with a fake relationship and then a friends to lovers trope. This is a sweet/clean romance and the focus is as much on the relationships of Winnie and her family and Kai and his mom as it is on their relationship with each other.
My heart broke for Kai and his mom over and over again, and I love how hard he tries to be a dutiful son and how much he clearly loves his mom and his family. He’s faced with some really hard decisions, and there aren’t really any good answers for him.
I felt really bad for Winnie and for how damaged her relationship with her family is. There were times where I really didn’t care for her as a character or as a person. There seem to be a lot of romances about a woman who is super career focused to the detriment of her relationships and the rest of her life, and maybe I’m just getting tired of this trope/plotline? I’d like more strong heroines with a great work/life balance please! Winnie has a lot of growing up to do, and it’s great to see her go through some of that growth throughout this book.
Midway through the book, the plot seemed to kind of zoom quickly and then stall out in sort of odd pacing, and some of the stuff with Chang just seemed really odd and kind of forced. There is also, of course, the normal amount of suspension of disbelief required when reading this book which you need for just about every fake relationship romance you’ll read. On the plus side, I love the way Kai and Winnie reconnect after their original arrangement is concluded, and the way everything wraps up in the end is just really wonderful and satisfying all around (especially when I had just been tearing at my hair and going “Oh noooo, how can this possibly work out for them?!”)
“You will come home for New Year,” her mother said.
“You know the hospital is so busy during the holiday,” Winnie said. “If I stay, I can earn extra bonuses–”
“Not this year,” her mother interrupted. “You haven’t been home for two years. This year, you will come back to Harbin.”
“Yes, Ma,” Winnie said with a sigh. She would just have to grit her teeth and get through it. It would only be for a week. She could survive a week with her family, right?
“And Zhou Chang will be here,” her mother said.
“Who?” Winnie asked.
“Zhou Chang,” her mother repeated. “You remember him from school? His family owns a car dealership.”
Winnie racked her brain trying to remember who Chang was. But when it finally dawned on her, she couldn’t figure out why he would be at her mother’s house for New Year.
“Isn’t he the guy who sat behind me in class and would set my hair on fire?” Winnie asked.
“Yes!” her mother said. “Oh, you do remember him. This is a good sign.”
“What?” Winnie asked. “What sign?”
“He is looking for a wife,” her mother said excitedly. “I talked to a friend of mine who is also friends with Chang’s parents and they said they were looking for a wife for their son. I am looking for a husband for you, so I agreed that you two would meet over Chinese New Year.”
“Ma!” Winnie nearly yelled. “How could you?”
“How could I what?” her mother asked. “This is the way things are done. You know this.”
“No, no, no, no, no,” Winnie said, pacing back and forth looking for…she wasn’t sure. A way out of this mess! If her mother already made arrangements with Chang’s family for a marriage, even though Winnie had not agreed, it could be very difficult to get out of. If Winnie broke her mother’s promise, it would reflect badly on her parents. “If I wanted to get married, I could find my own husband!”
“If that were true,” her mother said, “you would have done it already.”
Winnie looked at Lian for help, but Lian just shook her head. They looked at Brock, but her just held his hands out dramatically. He was dying to know what was going on, but Winnie couldn’t take a moment to explain what was going on to him.
“I…I have a boyfriend,” Winnie said.
Her mother went quiet for a minute. “Why didn’t you tell me before?” she finally asked.
“I didn’t want to get your hopes up,” Winnie said. “In case things didn’t work out.”
“Oh, well, it must not be very serious,” her mother said. “Just break up with him.”
“Ma!” Winnie said. “I can’t do that.”
“You will,” her mother said. “And you will come home and meet with Chang and his parents and put this foolishness behind you. Do you understand?”
Winnie’s heart sunk into her stomach. From her mother’s tone, she knew there was no point in arguing any further over the phone. Besides, she didn’t really have a boyfriend. If she dug this hole any deeper, she might not be able to get out of it again.
“Yes, Ma,” she said. The last thing she wanted to do was go home and get married, but she knew her mother wouldn’t take no for an answer unless they were face to face. And maybe not even then. But she had to try. She would have to go home and face her mother.
“Wonderful!” her mother exclaimed. “We can’t wait to see you. Don’t forget to bring some gifts for Xiaodi and your cousins. And something nice for Chang’s parents.”
“Yes, Ma,” Winnie said. “I’ll let you know when I’m coming.”
Winnie hung up the phone and looked at Brock.
“What?” he asked. “What’s going on? Your face was like mad, then sad, then totally freaked out!”
“We need to get married,” she told him.
“Eww, no!” Brock said. “Why would you even say that?”
“My mother is trying to arrange a marriage for me back home,” Winnie tried to quickly explain. “I’m supposed to meet him and his parents when I go home for New Year. But if I’m already married, there won’t be anything she can do.”
“Oh,” Brock said. “Honey, just do your own thing. Don’t go home. Come home with me. We can go on a walkabout. You can find your spirit path.”
“I can’t,” Winnie said. “I have to go. I have to put a stop to this somehow before it gets out of control.”
“It’s already out of control,” Lian said, having a much better grasp on the seriousness of the situation than Brock. “You need to be honest with them. Tell them you are living in Australia and are committed to the program here.”
“I can’t!” Winnie cried, leaning against the wall. “They’ll kill me! They’ll make me come home anyway.”
Lian and Brock stood on either side of Winnie and wrapped their arms around her.
“We will help you find a way out of this,” Brock said.
But Winnie had a feeling her fate was sealed.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE NEW YEAR BOYFRIEND by Zoey Gong, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Red Empress Publishing. Giveaway ends 11/26/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Zoey Gong
ZOEY GONG was born and raised in rural Hunan Province, China. She has been studying English and working as a translator since she was sixteen years old. Now in her early twenties, Zoey loves traveling and eating noodles for every meal. She lives in Shenzhen with her cat, Jello, and dreams of one day disappointing her parents by being a Leftover Woman (剩女).
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