As I am mostly reading romance at the moment but really not feeling up to writing proper reviews for that genre, I have decided to start mini reviews, organized by theme or trope. Starting with my absolute favourite: fake dating. I am not quite sure why I am loving that trope so much but I think it has to do with the fact that it makes the story so very obviously divorced from reality that it becomes easier for me to suspend my disbelief (which seems an odd thing to struggle with as somebody who usually reads mostly spec-fic).
Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Published by Carina Press, 2015
This book combines many things I apparently love in romance novels: fake dating, enemies to lovers, hilarious banter, a grumpy male character, a lovely female character, and theatre. Lainey and Richard are starring in a West End play together – and cannot stand each other. They are mostly forced into a fake relationship by their management because ticket sales are down due to Richard being a bit of a knobhead in public (and in private and everywhere in fact). The book works for me because he is not a total ass and she is funny and not a pushover. I loved Lainey’s relationship with her family and I love how Richard actually makes a effort to be nicer. There is very little miscommunication and they both are honest with each other; which I love.
4 out of 5 stars
Content warning: attempted sexual assault, suicide (in the past), death of a sibling (in the past), cancer (in the past)
Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Published by Avon, 2019
I have been on a serious Tessa Bailey binge and I have figured out that I like her books most when they are less angsty and more fun. This one is a lot of fun. While I am personally not partial to the “in love with my big brother’s best friend”, I do love fake dating and quirky heroines. Here Georgie and Travis start fake dating: for him it’s a way of bettering his image so that he has the chance of some kind of important baseball job (I know nothing about baseball), for her it’s a way of making people see her as a grown-up for once plus she has been in love with Travis most of her life (that surely will not blow up in her face at all). I thought this was absolutely lovely; I enjoyed the relationship and their banter, I love how they inspire each other to believe more in themselves, and Georgie’s women’s club was brilliant. I did think the ending was seriously over the top, but still, as a whole this was well worth the read.
4 out of 5 stars
Content warning: none? (the main character works as a clown, in case that is somebody’s phobia; I would wish to know if the main character worked with spiders so I am mentioning this)
Faking Ms. Right by Claire Kingsley
Published by Always Have, 2019
This was the book that made it very obvious to me that I enjoy the trope. It does a few things I am not always happy with but I still enjoyed it a whole lot due to the wonderful fake dating element. Here Shepherd is fake dating his personal assistant Everly because his (gold-digging) ex-girlfriend is dating his father (it doesn’t reeeally make that much sense in the book either). Everly is wonderfully sunny and super competent and her group of friends are similarly wonderful and totally made the book for me. I am not a big fan of super rich dudes in romance novels but this time it did work for me – mostly because Shepherd doesn’t really use his wealth to win Everly – which is something that always makes me cringe. They are believable as a couple and the whole book was a lot of fun.
4 out of 5 stars
Content warning: none that I can remember.