10 Romances to Try If You Love the Fake Dating Trope

Posted by Sharon on January 19, 2021
 
Rachel Lynn Solomon is best known to her fans for writing heartfelt contemporary YA novels like 2020's Today Tonight Tomorrow and her 2018 debut You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone.

This month, Solomon publishes her first romance for adults. In The Ex Talk, two public radio hosts whose relationship falls more on the enemies side of the enemies-to-lovers scale find themselves faking a former love affair for an on-air segment (and you thought your workplace was complicated!). To celebrate the book's publication, Solomon shared with us her favorite romances that feature the fake relationship trope.

The Ex Talk lands in U.S. stores on January 26.

There are few things as thrilling as that moment in a fake relationship when one person’s feelings start turning real. Suddenly, the simple act of holding hands is charged with electricity. Or maybe the characters are baring their souls, and they realize they’ve never been that honest with anyone else. And surely this is only pretend—that’s what they agreed on—and yet...

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The Ex Talk, my adult romcom debut, features a slight spin on fake dating: The main characters are fake exes. Public radio employees Shay and Dominic are constantly bickering at work, and when Shay pitches a show about relationships to help the struggling station, their boss ropes them into posing as exes to host it.

I had so much fun writing the scenes where they map out what their fake relationship might have looked like—including the physical elements of that relationship, a conversation that sparks some new tension between them. After a listener interrogates them on-air, their boss sends them away for a weekend in hopes that they’ll return more in sync. There, they finally open up to each other for real, fighting the growing attraction that might throw their whole scheme into question.
 
Fake dating is such a versatile trope, and I’ve rounded up some favorite books that showcase all of those electric, soul-baring moments!

 
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This was my first Lauren Blakely book, and it instantly became one of my all-time favorite romance novels. April and Theo, the guy she finds on Craigslist to pose as her boyfriend for a family reunion, have intense, magnetic chemistry—I pretty much needed them to rip each other’s clothes off from their first meeting.


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This stunning friends-to-lovers romance stars orthopedic resident Nic and her landlord Ben, who asks Nic to pretend to be his girlfriend so he can avoid his ex during a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Tracey Livesay’s writing is warm and witty, her characters three-dimensional and lovably flawed. Also: hammock sex.


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The adorable cover drew me in, and the fantastic humor had me hooked in the first chapter. In need of a plus-one for her cousin’s wedding—to her ex, no less—Retta finds a fake boyfriend in Duncan, who owns the boxing gym next to her bakery. Make a Scene is pure joy from start to finish.


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Two complete opposites, a disastrous first date, a Seattle setting—Alexandria Bellefleur’s debut ticked all my boxes. After a setup goes horribly wrong, actuary Darcy lies to her brother that she and astrologer Elle hit it off. The two agree to fake a relationship for both their families over the holidays, with some unintended (and steamy) romantic consequences.


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This novella makes real estate sexy. Longtime acquaintances and urban planners Oliver and Fay pose as newlyweds to tour historic New York apartments, their shared passion for their work turning into something much deeper. Breezy, charming, and made me want to aggressively search Pinterest for design ideas.


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If you enjoyed Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering, I can’t recommend her first series enough. It’s about a trio of friends who win the lottery, and this book follows Zoe, who’s recently quit her corporate lawyer job and seeking to clear her conscience. At the top of that list is apologizing to a family her firm treated poorly during a wrongful death suit. The last thing she’s expecting is for Aiden, grieving the loss of his brother, to ask her to pose as his fiancé. Clayborn’s writing is gentle, gorgeous, and full of compassion.


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Introverted Clementine has an incredible romcom profession: she’s an audiobook narrator struggling to perform an erotic romance. To find her muse, she books a solo cabin retreat, but when her overbearing family invites themselves along, she pretends she has a boyfriend so they’ll give her some space. That fake boyfriend is Jake, a brewpub owner who provides plenty of inspiration for Clementine’s looming deadline.


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I’m obsessed with Talia Hibbert’s writing—the rhythm, the humor, the rapid-fire banter. All of that is turned up to eleven in this brilliant romcom, in which Ph.D. student Dani and brooding security guard Zaf fake a relationship after a video of him rescuing her from a stalled elevator goes viral.


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Book one in Lucy Parker’s excellent London Celebrities series follows two West End actors, level-headed fan favorite Lainie and hostile but talented Richard, who are urged to fake-date as a PR stunt in order to soften his image and fill more theater seats. I love a grumpy hero, and this gave me such Pride and Prejudice vibes.


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Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man was one of my favorites of 2020, and her backlist is just as delightful. Free-spirited Ashley and Hollywood agent Julian have been secretly pining for each other for years, but the fact that her brother is his best friend (and client) has prevented either from making a move. So when Ashley needs a place to crash, they’re certain living together won’t lead to temptation, and neither will faking a relationship to convince her family she has her life together.


What are your favorite fake dating romances? Let's talk books in the comments!

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Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Renee (new)

Renee The Upside of Falling is by far my favourite in the genre, I'll have to check out some of these!


message 2: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Lopez Definitely added some of these to my TBR! I'm hoping to pick up The Ex Talk really soon as it was one of my most anticipated new releases!


message 3: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro My favorite trope in fake dating-stories is where somebody's suspicious, and goes "If you're really a couple, then let's see you kiss!" as if only people who are in a romantic relationship can kiss each other. XD


message 4: by Emily (new)

Emily Thank you for giving the people what they want!! This is one of my all-time favorite tropes.


message 5: by Donna (new)

Donna Hines Reading The Ex Talk now. Been extremely busy with over 200 ARC's at Netgalley but cleared room for this gem!


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