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Kiss Her Once for Me


Kiss Her Once for Me

Alison Cochrun, who wrote the highly acclaimed THE CHARM OFFENSIVE, is back with KISS HER ONCE FOR ME, a swoon-worthy, magic-filled holiday romance offering.

One year ago, Ellie Oliver felt like her life was just beginning. She had been hired as an animator at Laika Studios, her dream job where she would work with the writers, animators and creators behind such films as Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. Even better, she was finally in a new city, Portland, where the selfish demands of her negligent mother wouldn’t exactly stop, but at least it would give her some breathing room to be her real, demisexual, bisexual self.

But when Christmas Eve arrived, Ellie found herself not thriving and basking in the holiday warmth, but crying on the floor of Powell’s Books and apologizing to a footstool. Seeking comfort in her favorite books, she entered the sweetest meet-cute of all time when she reached for a copy of FUN HOME and met a gorgeous, confident and downright sexy stranger named Jack. As a demisexual, Ellie does not experience sexual attraction until an emotional attachment has been formed. So when she found herself falling into bed with Jack that very night, she knew her heart was on the line. By the next morning, though, her dreams were shattered. And when she was laid off shortly after, she froze --- in life, love and her own ambitions.

"Just as she did in THE CHARM OFFENSIVE, Alison Cochrun writes a smart, modern and deeply compassionate romance that explores many dynamics...where every character is proudly and unabashedly themselves."

One year later, Ellie is still frozen. She works at a pretentious coffee shop (and that’s saying something in Portland!). While she continues to draw her own webcomics on the side, they’re not exactly paying the bills. And with the housing crisis leading to increased rents, she’s more on the desperate side than she’d like to be. Then a disastrous day at work ends with her accepting a drink and a ride home from Andrew Kim-Prescott, the shop’s landlord and heir to the Prescott real estate investment firm that keeps most of Portland alive.

One drink turns into three, then four, followed by shots…and before Ellie knows it, Andrew is asking her the most ridiculous question she’s ever heard. His recently deceased grandfather left him a sum of two million dollars, but with the addendum that he cannot receive his inheritance until he gets married. Andrew likes Ellie’s wit and awkward charm, and he knows she could use the money as much as he wants it. So he offers her a fake engagement in return for 10% of his inheritance. That’s a whopping 200,000 reasons to say yes, and close to zero reasons to say no.

By the end of that week, Ellie is journeying to Andrew’s family’s “cabin” (which, of course, turns out to be more of a family-owned ski chalet on a remote, scenic mountain) to meet his loved ones and sell their fake engagement. Immediately Ellie is surprised to see that the Kim-Prescotts aren’t waspy snobs but warm, welcoming and thoroughly love-filled people with real relationships and bonds. From Andrew’s anxious mother to his boozy grandmothers, no one is as Ellie expects --- including when his sister, Jacqueline “Jack” Kim-Prescott, arrives with her surly best friend, Dylan, who is non-binary and spends the holidays with the Kim-Prescotts after being shunned by their own family over their identity.

Wait…Jack? Oh yes, that Jack. In the comedic timing to beat all romantic comedies, Ellie has now officially agreed to marry the brother of her one-night stand from last Christmas. And they’re going to be trapped in the same house, dashing through the snow and making spirits bright for eight whole days. At approximately $25,000 a day (if you think like that, which Ellie absolutely doesn’t) and the opportunity to make real, lasting holiday memories unlike the neglectful ones of her childhood, it seems like an easy choice. But is Ellie risking the chance of a very real love in the process? And is that something she even wants?

Just as she did in THE CHARM OFFENSIVE, Alison Cochrun writes a smart, modern and deeply compassionate romance that explores many dynamics --- from Ellie’s demisexual identity to Andrew’s own “Rorschach test” sexuality (what you see when you look at him says a lot more about you than it does about him) --- where every character is proudly and unabashedly themselves. She makes it even better by demonstrating how easy and crucial it is to accept one another without making a big deal of it.

Right from the start, Ellie refers to the androgynous Jack in they/them pronouns until she is able to ask for Jack’s preferred pronouns (she/her), and the shift in writing is so natural and easy that you could miss it if you weren’t paying attention. (Of course, the charming banter helps a lot too!) At the same time, Cochrun celebrates found family, sibling love and even generational bonds in ways that are immediately heart-rending and tender yet still keenly observed and sharply written. Ellie’s personal journey from 10-year-plan perfectionist to confident woman who is aware and in control of her talents and ambitions is incredibly satisfying. And that she discovers herself in part through the magic of Christmas makes this novel feel utterly fantastical in the best ways.

KISS HER ONCE FOR ME is the holiday romance that I didn’t know I needed from an author who gets better and better with every dynamic and leap-off-the-page character.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on November 23, 2022

Kiss Her Once for Me
by Alison Cochrun

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
  • Genres: Comedy, Fiction, Humor, Romance
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1982191139
  • ISBN-13: 9781982191139