cover image Canadian Boyfriend

Canadian Boyfriend

Jenny Holiday. Forever, $16.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2492-7

Holiday’s moving latest (after So This Is Christmas) sets itself apart through its sensitive focus on mental health. Aurora “Rory” Evans’s teenage years revolved around ballet and the intense pressure to meet her abusive mother’s expectations. To cope, she spent a fair amount of time fantasizing about “Mall Mike,” the hunky Canadian boy she met once in passing. She starts claiming him as her “Canadian boyfriend” and using him to get out of unwanted social obligations. As an adult, she’s settled into her job as a dance teacher, but she still struggles with anxiety. Then a new girl joins her class, and when her father arrives to pick her up, it’s none other than Mall Mike himself. This collision of real life and teenage fantasy could add to Rory’s worries, but instead Mike’s presence in her life slowly makes everything better. For his part, professional hockey player Mike is recently widowed, emotionally distraught, and trying to help his daughter through her grief. Rory’s dance classes give the little girl an outlet, and soon Mike realizes that Rory might be the perfect addition to their life. This love story has serious themes, but there’s also a serious reward in store. Readers looking for emotionally intelligent romance will want to snap this up. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (Jan.)