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With the overwhelming success of To All the Boys I Loved Before and Bridgerton, and the lukewarm success of many other Netflix titles, fake dating plots will continue to dominate the romcom realm. Fortunately for film and television developers, there are tons of amazing romance novels to draw from.
We all have a favorite drop. For me it’s wrong dating. These stories share the same general structure, but they can be changed into pretty much any relationship you want to put together. While it’s a foregone conclusion that the two characters will end up together, a fake dating act is still very exciting. It’s less about when they admit their feelings and more about how they come out. The tension builds until it breaks, and then they finally have to figure out how they feel for each other. For someone like me who loves this trope, it’s always delicious.
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If I had never met you by Mhairi McFarlane
Breakups are notoriously super fun and easy, but it’s a little tricky when you work in the same law firm with your ten year old ex. To avoid the humiliation of dealing with her ex and new girlfriend, Laurie recruits office playboy Jamie to forge a fake relationship. Even though it’s all about social media and getting people off their backs, Laurie gets confused about the line between real and fake with devilishly handsome Jamie. It’s more than just fake dating – Laurie is having a real struggle to cope with the upswing in her life. Although Jamie is great, she needs to figure out how to stand alone too.
First comes like from Alisha Rai
This book is more than just incorrect dating. It’s about two different types of celebrities: the beauty influencer Jia and the Bollywood king Dev are completely different races of fame. Jia is initially fooled by a dev impersonator trying to catch her on social media, but they need to turn this fake identity business into a fake dating scheme if the paparazzi get wind of what’s going on . It’s a refreshing take on the craziness of falling in love with a celebrity, then a catfish, and then a person.
A prince on paper by Alyssa Cole
In the third installment of her awesome Reluctant Royals series, Alyssa Cole brought her skillful touch to fake dating. Nya Jerami returns home for a wedding and meets the notorious evil Prince Johan von Braustein. Johan is a tabloid, but his reasons are more admirable than Nya originally thought. When they enter into a fake engagement to draw the paparazzi ‘s attention to him instead of his brother, both of them face their feelings for each other. Alyssa Cole loves this series very much, and it lives up to the hype – this is essential read for any contemporary romance fan.
Boyfriend material from Alexis Hall
Luc O’Donnell has an image problem after a bad photo was taken of him that got out of control in the media. Although he’s never asked to get famous, his picture takes a nosedive and he needs to clean it up. He thinks that Oliver Blackwood, an ordinary lawyer, is pretending to be his friend. This book is so adorable, funny and cute that I cannot recommend it enough. Although the wrong friends don’t seem to have anything in common at first, they find a lot to like each other, as happens when you spend a lot of time together.
Rules of Engagement by Selena Montgomery
This novel was written by a novelist who spends her days as a writer trying to protect democracy. He follows Dr. Raleigh Foster’s first undercover mission. Fellow agent Adam Grayson is supposed to pretend to be her lover, and together they must try to infiltrate the terrorist organization Scimitar. With all the excitement of a Bond movie, we follow these two agents on an exciting mission and have an extremely intense experience that almost inevitably leads to a new kind of passion. Unfortunately, this title by Selena Montgomery is out of print, but you could probably find a copy at Biblio or a used bookstore.
Make a scene of Mimi Grace
Attending your ex’s wedding is bad enough, but lying about having a boyfriend and then not showing up with them sounds like torture. The delicious Cringey problem that Retta posed to herself means she has to ask the owner of the boxing hall next to her bakery to be her wrong friend for the weekend. In a breathtaking turn of events, the flirting becomes something more and the wedding makes her wonder how real that relationship will be when it’s all over.
Written in the stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
To protect herself from bad data and heartbreak, Darcy Lowell tells her well-meaning brother that she had a love affair with his most recent setup, Elle. Unfortunately, the date didn’t go well for either of them – Elle’s head in the clouds, Darcy’s completely on the ground. Darcy explains the misunderstandings and Elle agrees to play along, provided Darcy also helps Elle with her family. The intensity of family dealings on vacation obviously comes down to the two women, and wrong dating becomes much less wrong.
Take a note, Dani Brown from Talia Hibbert
Dani doesn’t make relationships – she’s way too ambitious to get lost in the everyday distractions of romantic attachments. In Hibbert’s refreshingly realistic storytelling, we follow Dani in her search for a friend with benefits. When Zafir rescues Dani from a fire drill, her story goes viral for romantic reasons rather than the sexual one, which Dani privately haunts. Zaf asks her for help in promoting his sports charity and keeping up the #DrRugbae trick. Dani goes out of his way to get her friends up and running with a beneficial relationship with Zaf, but he has other ideas that could change her mind as well.
Even though the relationships are wrong, the feelings always become real. It’s a popular trump card across various genres in adult romance novels, and there are plenty of options in the world of books for young adults too. Fake dating novels are like a warm blanket to me, but there are so many other tropes and genres to immerse yourself in if you are just starting out and looking for romance to float your boat.