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:
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
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.
Flirting with the Frenemy by Pippa Grant
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.
Best Fake Fiancé by Roxie Noir
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.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
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.
Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert
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.
Irresponsible Puckboy by Eden Finley and Saxon James
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!