In this #funny, #wise, #emotionally compelling look at modern love and finding your true path, a proudly kid-free influencer meets the ultimate #dealbreaker . . .
It's the influencer's golden rule: know your niche. Kit Kidding has found hers on Instagram, where she gets paid to promote brands and share expertly curated posts about her fun, fabulous, child-free life. Kit likes kids just fine, but she passionately believes that women who choose not to become mothers shouldn't have to face guilt. Or judgment. Or really hot chefs who turn out to be single dads.
Will MacGregor is aggravating, sexy, persistent, averse to social media, and definitely a bad idea. As soon as Kit learns his parenting status, she vows to put their scorching one-night stand behind her and move on. But Will and Kit are thrown together on an Instagram campaign, and the more time she spends with him—and his whip-smart, eight-year-old daughter, Addie—the more difficult it is to stay away, much less sustain what Will so cleverly calls her "Resting Beach Face." Kit's picture-perfect career path is suddenly clashing with the possibility of a different future—messy, complicated and real. Which life does she truly want? Will she have to re-invent herself? And will love still be waiting by the time she figures it out?
About the author
CHANTEL GUERTIN is a Toronto‑based beauty expert and television personality, well-known to audiences of Canada's number‑one daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show, and a frequent guest of morning news shows. Previously, she worked as a beauty editor at fashion magazines. Find her on Instagram at @chantelguertin and on her website, www.chantelguertin.com, where she shares her favourite books and beauty products.
Excerpt: Instamom: A Novel (by (author) Chantel Guertin)
I finish the chapter of the book I'm reading, then reluctantly bring myself back to reality. Getting up from the bench where I'm sitting, soaking up the last drops of spring sunshine before the sun sets, I slip the book into my purse and start walking toward the nearby hotel.
Come on, Kit. Let's do this. One more event to go and that'll make twenty influencer events this week—possibly an all-time record, but everyone knows spring is a busy time for openings, launches, collaborations. And the invitation for the Beachdazer event promises I'll have a "beachy good time." Right now, my idea of a good time is going home, kicking off the world's most uncomfortable heels I reserve solely for these events, changing into my favorite pj's, pouring myself a large glass of wine and finishing off this novel. But it's fine. It's Friday (#Friyay!), and while these launches don't pay, they pay off in campaigns. All I'm expected to do is smile, laugh, drink a cocktail, snap a bunch of photos and share them with my followers. It's not exactly comparable to having an open-heart surgery to perform before calling it a week, I remind myself.
My phone buzzes.
Where r u?
Feloise, my agent. Likely seeing other influencers posting to their social channels, and worried I'm skipping the event.
I snap an upwards shot of Hotel 6ix, the hot fifty-story hotel-slash-residences that shot up at the waterfront seemingly overnight, and send it to her, resisting the urge to roll my eyes because sure, Feloise has been riding me a bit lately, but she's just doing her job, and it's the reason she's so sought-after. Plus, I chose this career, this life. I have no one to blame but myself. And so I Superwoman pose in my white T-shirt, black cigarette pants and silver heels and tell myself that I've got this. Head held high, smile plastered on, I push through the massive glass double doors, flipping my shoulder-length brown hair over my shoulder.
Inside Hotel 6ix, the lobby is a cavernous space of darkwood, cold metal and shiny tile. Off to the left is the row of junior publicists, lined up in order of ascending height like neat Russian dolls, clipboards in hand, bleached teeth gleaming, hair in beachy waves. They're dressed head-to-toe in beach-inspired outfits: white sundresses, sunglasses on their heads, beach bags hooked into the crooks of their arms.
"Hi, Kit!" one of the publicists says to me in her singsongvoice. "You made it!" I rack my brain for her name, then remember it's Emaline as she checks me off her list. Emaline leads me to the mirrored bank of elevators and we ride up to the fortieth floor, filling the air with small talk until the elevator doors open into a massive room that feels spacious and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows that give a near‒360-degree view of the Toronto skyline: the CN Tower, the OVO Centre where the Raptors practice basketball and the islands, which are a favorite escape for everyone but me on hot summer days. I've been in this room for three other events already but I still love this view of the city. But back to the event space: it's been completely transformed into a beachside resort and even though I've seen a million space makeovers, I'm impressed: several windows have overlays so you can stand in front of them and look like you're on the beach in Bali, Thailand, Australia; the floor is covered in a light layer of sand, and lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and beach balls are scattered throughout.
"You can pick out your beach bag here," Emaline says, leading me over to a lineup of straw baskets with tassels, striped canvas totes, bright bags with neon handles. The bags are all adorned with inspirational puns such as Shell Yeah! and Seas the Day! I choose one—an outfit-matching black-and-white striped tote that says Avoid Pier Pressure and peek inside to see that it's filled with beach essentials—flip-flops, a beach towel, sunglasses, a sunhat, and the pièce de résistance, the Beachdazer curling iron. It's generous, for sure, and my twenty-year-old self would've ridden this freebie high for days, but sometimes, it's hard not to think about how, if I really needed a new curling iron (or beach towel or sunglasses, for that matter), I could easily buy the item in less time than I'll be spending at this event. And the towel wouldn't have the Beachdazer imprint on it.
"Aren't the cabanas amazing?" Emaline waves an arm to the far wall where half a dozen brightly colored fronts of cabanas have been created. They're not real—you can't go in them, they're just for show. For the 'gram. To give influencers the ability to choose the appropriate backdrop to fit their Instagram grid. But they look real. And if those don't work, there's an entire whitewashed wall near one of the huge windows letting in natural light—ideal for those who can't afford to have their own lights, tripods or photographers in tow. Or can't be bothered. "If you need to change, there are washrooms by the elevators. Once you're ready, you can head over to one of the hair stations to get your hair 'Beachdazed'"—she shoves her clipboard under her arm so she can air-quote—"and then help yourself to food and drink, have a great time and take lots of pictures, obviously. I can’t wait to see your final look!" She claps excitedly, then hands me a square pink card. "Here are the event hashtags, so you don't forget." I look down at the card: #lifesabeachdazer #rideabeachdazer #beachhairdontcare.
Emaline excuses herself and starts her spiel from the top with a woman who's just entered the room behind me, a large black bag slung over her shoulder, a photographer—in his early twenties, thin, stylish—trailing behind her. Possibly a photography grad, though probably her boyfriend. Potentially both.
I scan the room, debating whether to prioritize beachy waves or a bourbon on the rocks, and take in the usual influencers. @NoNoJoJo is standing on the "beach" with a beach ball. Her whole schtick is that she doesn't use any filters or editing—she does, however, have a professional photographer, and at this moment, a whole slew of lighting accessories. Her photographer snaps away while she tosses a beach ball, laughs and catches it. Toss, laugh, catch. Toss, laugh, catch. When she's satisfied, she moves on to one of the beach chairs, pops on a pair of sunglasses and picks up her pink cocktail, twirling the drink umbrella in one hand, pretending to sip the drink through the striped paper straw. Meanwhile, @PugMama is trying to coerce her pug into sitting pretty on one of those massive blow-up flamingos that's on top of a blue floor that's supposed to look like water. The pug is not interested and @PugMama looks stressed. I root around in my oversized Balenciaga bag, remembering that earlier today I was at the opening for a pet café and spa in Yorkville, and we got a gift bag. Sure enough, there's a dog treat. I make my way over to @PugMama and hand her the nail polish‒shaped dog treat. She looks at it, then at me, then throws her arms around me dramatically and showers me with thanks before getting back to her shoot.
That's exactly how these events go. There are rarely any boring speeches, or presentations about how a product works anymore—that aspect of events died out about five years ago. That info will all arrive in our inboxes after the event, along with the next steps in our contract how to post about actually using the curling iron. For now, all the brand cares about are the photos we take: that the tens of thousands of dollars they've spent on making this event look picture-perfect will result in perfect pictures on our grids—making our followers jealous that they didn't spend their Friday night in the same way, and convincing them that getting a Beachdazer iron will make their lives better.
And so, we eat pretty food, drink sugary cocktails, chat toother influencers and make sure we get the best photo possible.
"Instamom is a delightfully cheeky rom-com about women's choices that fall outside of the norm, the vulnerabilities of modern love, and having the courage to change how you show up in the world—all in the complicated age of Instagram. Kit Kidding is a heroine you'll think of often as you scroll through your social media feeds!" —Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push
"Themes of personal choice and female empowerment underscore this tender rom-com from Guertin. . . . A cast of wonderful supporting characters . . . add authenticity and tug at the heartstrings. Readers will be charmed." —Publishers Weekly
"Chantel Guertin's Instamom is the #InstaFun rom-com you need right now: witty and spirited, with a modern love story that satisfies thanks to a charming meet-cute and timely insights. Pitch-perfect, sexy and smart! #LovedIt." —Karma Brown, bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife
"Instamom reads like a love letter to my soul, a laugh-out-loud funny, sexy, moving novel about love and family that is as smart as it is delightful, and doesn't shy away from unpacking the fascinating complexities of modern women's lives." —Kerry Clare, author of Waiting for a Star to Fall
"There's a provocative question at the heart of this charming rom com from Chantel Guertin: What if the social media brand you've built—one that celebrates personal growth and empowerment—prevents you from growing yourself? This is the dilemma faced by Kit Kidding, charismatic online promoter of the child-free life, when she falls for an irresistible single dad and has to decide whether to risk her carefully curated life. Guertin's insider observations on the influencer lifestyle are sharp and funny, and will leave you rooting for Kit . . . and wondering if you should delete your social media accounts." —Kate Hilton, author of Better Luck Next Time
"Instamom, Chantel Guertin's terrific romantic comedy of oh-so-modern manners, takes us beyond expected tropes and deftly skewers the outdated expectations and assumptions that continue to limit our 21st-century lives, among them the undying conundrum of career versus motherhood—but she does so with wit and warmth and verve. Delicious and compulsively readable!" —Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of The Gown
"Chantel Guertin shines in this witty and tender rom-com that amplifies the pressures women face navigating career, relationships, motherhood . . . and, of course, social media. All with a delightful cast of side characters, and some seriously swoony hot-chef vibes, this is a book I wish someone would have handed to me in my twenties." —Jean Meltzer, author of The Matzah Ball
"Instamom has it all: a heroine you'll wish you were friends with, a male lead you'll want to date, and a cast of characters that make this smart, refreshing story about love and life choices truly shine. Chantel Guertin made me laugh, she made me swoon, she made me obsessively turn pages—but she also made me think deeply about how our pasts shape our futures, and how change takes courage. Perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Emily Henry, this is the book you'll be telling all your friends to read next!" —Marissa Stapley, bestselling author of Lucky
"Fun, romantic, and thought-provoking, Instamom explores a woman's journey to discover what she needs as opposed to what she always thought she wanted. Chantel Guertin's characters are so endearing and compelling, and the story is full of joy, hope, and inspiration. A perfect escape read that will also empower you to reach for your dreams." —Samantha M. Bailey, USA Today and #1 national bestselling author of Woman on the Edge
"Witty and compelling, this is a modern story about unexpected connections and adapting priorities. Kit's growth as she learned how to let more into her life while staying true to herself was expertly crafted. A delight!" —Farah Heron, author of Accidentally Engaged