Heat Factor: It’s a closed door, mild heat. Sweet, but not overtly sexy.
Character Chemistry: It’s friendship to devotion, with some light tension.
Plot: Narilla is desperate to establish her legitimacy with the upper echelons of society after a lifetime of watching her mother’s rejection for marrying a merchant. Jovian is a good-hearted and talented masonry artisan who is also, as it turns out, a thief who steals Narilla’s birthright.
Overall: This was a really well-written and sweet love story and a strong follow up to the other two in this series.
We’re rounding out fake relationship trope week with a super specific sub-category of the trope—you know the one, where at least one protagonist swears that they just can’t do real relationships because they’re so bad at them? Except then they’re really good at being in the fake one because they’re just themselves and it’s completely endearing and wonderful?
Anyway, this is a dynamic that’s pretty specific to contemporary romance, so here are six for your reading pleasure:
Stella might begin her quest by asking Michael for sex lessons, but it only takes one encounter for them to decide to fake something more like relationship intimacy as a solution to Stella’s dating woes. Of course, intimacy is intimacy, and it’s not long before their relationship evolves into meeting the family and thoughtful gifts and crossing all the fake relationship lines.
Ellie’s best friend is getting married, and she ends up sharing a house with her brother’s best friend Wyatt, and his son. Ellie’s ex is also in the wedding, so she arranges for a friend to be her fake boyfriend–but when Wyatt finds out, he flips the script and insists HE is her real boyfriend. There are all kinds of reasons they apparently can’t be together but…none of them end up mattering.
Daniel hasn’t dated in years because he’s been focused on being a good single dad to his daughter while also running a brewery—and what he was doing before he found out he had a kid is not exactly what we would call “dating.” When Daniel panics at a custody hearing and tells the judge he’s engaged to his best friend, Charlie, he thinks it’ll be simply a matter of Charlie showing up at the next hearing and saying, “Yup, we’re getting married.” Too bad they live in a small town where the congratulations start flowing immediately because 1) the court clerk is a huge gossip and 2) everyone is already convinced that Daniel and Charlie have been secretly dating for years.
Dani’s carrying so much hurt from being dumped when she was young that it sabotages her relationships, so she’s decided not to waste her energy on something that’s not working for her and is being awesome at work instead. She’s so fixated on how a relationship won’t work for her that she doesn’t even realize she’s exactly the girlfriend Zaf has been dreaming of the whole time they’ve been fake dating.
Being in a relationship with a partner who’s deployed in a submarine for long stretches is hard. Too hard. So Derrick has decided to give up the misery of dating and be married to work…after he gets back at his cheating ex by having his best friend’s little brother give him the most epic fake welcome home kiss ever. Too bad the rest of the family is there to see it and is over the moon to adopt him into the family.
Look, Dex is a himbo. He doesn’t realize that his best friend has been in love with him for years, and he doesn’t realize his relationship failed not because he’s dragging his feet about getting married but because he doesn’t actually like her much. But, being the problem solver that he is, Dex convinces Tripp to go to a chapel in Vegas and pretend to marry him so he can get over his wedding anxiety. It’ll be fake, he said. We won’t file the paperwork, he said. Boy, are these twits surprised when the team’s PR department calls demanding answers. Bonus points: This one’s a legit rom-com. Erin couldn’t stop laughing while describing its bonkersness and Holly told her to put it on this list.
As always, we’re always taking recommendations (even if our TBRs are threatening to fall on top of us), so let us know if there are any we just shouldn’t miss!
Heat Factor: It’s a nice amount of heat…think spice in chocolate.
Character Chemistry: Dead serious, this is the BEST enemies to lovers set up I’ve read in a long time. Meticulously done.
Plot: Nina and Leo are co stars on a culinary reality show–when Nina reaches her breaking point in dealing with Leos’ crap and quits. In order to save their respective restaurants after the messy episode airs, Nina and Leo decide to embark on a fake relationship to stir up good press. Only, it gets REAL. Real juicy.
Overall: The second I saw the tiniest hint that these enemies were actually going to fall for each other, my jaw dropped. It was just deliciously done–and honestly, extra points for the bold and punny title.
Heat Factor: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Is there anything like a conflagration of lust? There is not.
Character Chemistry: Perfection
Plot: Danny and Catie have enjoyed being each other’s nemeses since they were children, but when the media speculates they’ve hooked up, they decide to fake a relationship for a few months for the sake of their careers