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Rent a Boyfriend

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

400 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 10, 2020

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About the author

Gloria Chao

9 books721 followers
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, Rent a Boyfriend, and When You Wish Upon a Lantern. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths. When she’s not writing, you can find her on the curling ice, where she and her husband are world-ranked in mixed doubles.

Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.Wordpress.com, and find her on Twitter and Instagram @GloriacChao.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,209 reviews
Profile Image for Gloria Chao.
Author 9 books721 followers
February 19, 2020
Dearest Reader,

Rent a Boyfriend is inspired by a real-life practice in some Asian countries where women hire fake boyfriends to bring home, commonly at Lunar New Year, to alleviate the pressure from family to find a husband. For this novel, I adapted this practice into a fictional diaspora version, with all details—including the company Rent for Your ’Rents—created to better fit the American setting.

This book has:
• Fake dating
• Dual POV
• College-age protagonists
• Taiwanese-American characters
• Holidays! (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Chinese New Year)
• Humor, puns, banter, romance

I hope you enjoy reading!
Profile Image for emma.
1,824 reviews48.3k followers
January 27, 2021
Forgive me for the main character syndrome, but if I were to have a curse, I always presumed it’d be more of a fun one.

I mean, I grew up reading the Brothers Grimm and the Andrew Lang fairy books and just about every middle grade fairytale retelling series I could get my hands on, so I think you can cut me some slack for thinking my curse would at least involve a sorceress or some beasties or a creepy goblin creature in enchanted woods, if not a handsome prince and a happily ever after.

But whatever.

Because my current curse - which, if you haven’t already guessed, is to get excited about books and then inevitably be brutally disappointed - is neither dramatic nor romantic nor any fun at all.

It’s a snooze and it’s sad.

I was very, very excited for this book, as I am for everything I buddy read with Lily, and then, also as with most things I buddy read with Lily, I was absolutely destroyed by those mild expectations.

Worst of all is that in between those two occurrences, I was actually...enjoying this.

I did not like American Panda, this author’s other book, due to the fact that I thought it was Snooze City, the capital of Snooze Country, but this one was immediately fun to me. That voice! The dialogue! The jokes and puns and cultural allusions!

Plus I’m obsessed with fake dating, like any self-respecting and semi-in-denial romance reader, and I have a weird fixation on texts in books (especially of the falling-in-love-while-texting variety - thank you, Emergency Contact), so...add it all up and I’m feeling dreamy.

However, this must be my junior-year Twentieth Century History & Politics class because...Things Fall Apart. (We read Things Fall Apart in that class. Everyone who took it is probably laughing hysterically right now. Stop, you guys, think of my ego.)

There was too much unnecessary drama. The conflict was drawn out. It got really repetitive. I should have known when they kissed by like 30% that the remaining 70 was going to be a trial and a test for me.

In fact, there was so much conflict that the author honestly must have been pressed to come up with more, because some of the later stuff did not even make a lick of sense.

Add that to the fact that new plots and characters were getting introduced with less than 20% to go and I am one unhappy camper.

Which, to be fair, I always am. Not a camping girl. I do not like “outside.” Or sleeping on the ground when beds exist.

But whatever.

Bottom line: This should have been 100 pages shorter, and also if someone sees any fairytale type characters wandering around, please send them my way. I need some curses lifted ASAP.


i spent the first third of this book thinking it'd be at least a 4.5 star read.

...i don't want to talk about it.

review to come / 2 stars

currently-reading updates

buddy reading possibly the cutest book ever with the cutest person ever
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews803 followers
November 10, 2020

Y'alllll I could totally see a rent-a-boyfriend service BOOMING on the subtle asian dating Facebook group. Someone get on that stat!

⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ 3.5 stars! (Or maybe mooncakes would be more appropriate!? 🥮🥮🥮✨)

Some of the lighthearted parts of this book were laugh-out-loud funny and SO relatable. The rest was... clichéd and saccharine as hell and waaaay too sappy for my tastes.

Some of the painful bits were moving and poignant and SO relatable. The rest was... over-the-top and cringey and a smidge heavy-handed.


I was trolling YouTube the other day when I came across an interview with Constance Wu, where she says something that really hit me hard. She talks about how she didn’t tell her parents about a traumatic event that had happened to her at school, and when the (white) host asks her why, she explains, simply, that she wanted to protect her parents. That it’s a dynamic that forms between immigrants and their children: we want to protect them as much as they do us.

This was certainly the case in Rent a Boyfriend. Chloe Wang leads a double life: in Chicago, she’s Chloe, the econ major with a fiery personality. In Palo Alto, under her parents’ roof, she’s Jing-Jing—meek, deferent, and unsure of herself. As Jing-Jing, she’s supposed to be engaged to a dude her parents picked out ages ago, the misogynistic and superficial Hongbo. So Chloe decides to take drastic measures: she’ll hire a fake boyfriend. Enter Drew Chan, the sweet and sensitive artist who’s been disowned by his family for daring to pursue his dream. When the two of them become friends—and then more—they each find the courage to navigate paths that had never seemed possible before.


What I appreciated most about this book was its embracing of ambivalence. As a child of Chinese immigrants, I know. I know how our relationships and love are complex and painful and filled with contradictions that don’t make sense to most people, but are nonetheless very, very real.

It’s a daunting task to try and represent this sort of relational complexity, and Rent a Boyfriend does an admirable job of capturing a piece that really resonated with me. In fact, I think it will resonate with anyone who’s had to straddle two worlds that aren't always in alignment: the one dictated by people you love, and the one you wish to someday carve out for yourself and yourself only.

Chloe and Drew don’t shy away from calling out her parents’ problematic beliefs when they crop up. The book is unafraid to critique the toxic aspects of Taiwanese/East Asian culture, from fatphobic body-shaming to the belief that a woman’s inherent worth lies in her dating (and marrying) a suitable man. Chloe drags her mom’s fixations on thinness and moral purity, and the book examines the stigma that Taiwanese culture attaches to dropping out of college.

There were MANY Asian-themed puns and so much good food that my mouth was watering (that hot pot scene?? Lord have mercy). Chloe and Drew engage in some hilarious text banter, and the humour in this book was so much crasser than I was expecting!!! It was awesome. Even if I had to read the words “shrivelled vagina” like eight times.

Bottom line: Rent a Boyfriend is essentially an amalgam of subtle asian traits memes and it really made me feel seen.

Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Kimberly.
44 reviews187 followers
January 2, 2021
Chloe Wang or Jing Jing is a college freshman majoring in economics. She has pressure from her parents to marry Hong Bo, a wealthy asshole. Does Chloe like Hong Bo? Of course not. Well then, does Hong Bo like Chloe? NO. She decides to hire a fake boyfriend from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company that specializes in providing fake boyfriends, to try to stop her parents from forcing her to marry Hong Bo.

Drew, the other main character, is the fake boyfriend. He was disowned by his family after choosing to drop out of college to pursue a career in art and became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to earn money. So what will happen when Drew and Chloe start to fall for each other?

I really enjoyed how authentic this book was. This book included the tone markings with Mandarin words and the author also explained the system and significance of tone markings in the beginning of the book. I have not read many books that include tone markings with mandarin words and explain them. I really liked that it was explained so that readers who don’t understand Mandarin would be able to understand the reason for the tone markings.

The plot and characters are okay. I don’t think that they are too special or unique. I don’t think that I actually liked any of the characters and their personalities. I liked their internal conflicts more. The inner conflicts that were written in this book were so good and so true. My favorite was probably Drew’s inner conflict.

Chloe’s conflicts are very real. She doesn't feel like she is being herself because of her parents. Even with that, I liked how she tried not to change for her parents and kept true to herself.

I’ve never read any books with a fake dating trope so I didn’t know what to expect, but I enjoyed it. I was really worried about the romance because I was scared that it was going to feel really forced and unnatural, but that wasn’t the case. The romance was really sweet, cute, and natural. But there are some parts that I felt were a bit cringy and sappy.

The parents don’t have a POV of their own in the actual story but you could understand the parents’ perspectives through Chloe and Drew. I think this part was written extremely well. The author really nailed the thoughts of Taiwanese parents (and Asian parents in general). I liked how both Chloe and Drew didn’t give in to their parents’ requests/wishes and believed in themselves.

This was a very thought-provoking novel and I would definitely recommend this book to you!

Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC. All opinions are my own.
April 21, 2021

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AMERICAN PANDA is one of my favorite young adult books, and cemented Gloria Chao as an "insta-buy" author for me because of her excellent balance of light and chatty narrative and her serious handling of tough topics. Plus, she's filling that much-needed gap of YA that is geared towards older teens and verges on new adult but doesn't have all of the "edgy" and graphic content that makes new adult more... well, adult.

RENT A BOYFRIEND is apparently based on a real practice that people do in some Asian countries, according to the author, where women "hire" fake boyfriends to bring home for the holidays to get their parents off their backs about marriage. Here, the author has made up an American company called Rent a Boyfriend. The heroine, Chloe/Jingjing has hired Andrew/Drew to please her parents and get a truly wretched excuse of a potential fiance (Hongbo) off her back and hopefully out of her life for good.

Andrew makes a good impression to Chloe's parents but they still want Chloe to marry Hongbo because his parents are incredibly rich and prominent figures in their local community. Never mind that she already turned him down and has expressed over and over that she wants nothing to do with him. Her parents won't take "no" for an answer. As Andrew and Chloe grow closer over the holidays, they find that this dissonance between who they would like to be and who they feel they have to be to please their parents is something they have in common, only when Andrew chose his path, he ended up alienating his parents for good.

Pretty soon the lies stack on top of lies and Chloe begins to struggle to keep everything she's told her parents straight, especially when it becomes clear that her parents have secrets of her own. When Andrew and Chloe decide to make their relationship real, it becomes clear pretty fast that the truth will have to out-- but Chloe fears that her parents might decide to cut her out of their lives for her choices, and that being independent might mean being alone.

So this was a really good book. I loved the concept and I thought the author did a good job balancing the cute rom-com elements with the more serious elements revolving around autonomy, family, and tradition. At times, I really did feel like I was watching an Asian drama because of all the twists and introspective moments and the inner-monologues. This would make a great movie. I did think the beginning was stronger than the end and I'm not really sure why. I feel like her father's secret was drawn out for too long and maybe it felt like the book could have ended sooner than it did and would have been a stronger book because of it. But Drew was SUCH a lovely love interest and Chloe was relatable and strong while still staying true to her shy character, so it ended up working.

I will definitely be checking out OUR WAYWARD FATE and anything else Ms. Chao writes.

3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Mrinmayi.
155 reviews575 followers
Want to read
October 14, 2020
Ughhhh...I have to wait another month for this book!! I am soooo excited to pick this up!!
So till then, I will just make memes!!
As the blurb says..the MC's parents won't help him pursue his "Arts" dream career

Mrin checking to see if this site actually exists Just in case ...

How it feels trying to find the guy that your family would actually like

End result is...


Trust me if this RENT A BOYFRIEND service was real...it would be a hit!!

Update 1
This book 'speaks' to my soul😂
the MC seems relatable??!! Don't know but I have this "connection" with her xD
Now, where do I submit this form for renting a boyfriend??!!
that protocol in the blurb made me laugh "“Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” "
I made my requirements "protocol"

1]Should be loyal (THIS IS A MUST)
2]Should laugh at my dad's joke, no matter if they are bad puns
4]Should get Harry Potter & "The Lunar Chronicles" reference
5] Should be an introvert...(I talk enough for 5 people😂 My parents would prefer some peace)
7]Please be a dog person
8]Extra points if he is grumpy!!!😂

umm..that's it I guess😅
I think I will add more LATER
For now..these are my priorities 😂🤣
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
January 7, 2021
This was a cute romance that handled some pretty heavy topics. Chloe decides to hire a fake boyfriend to take home to her parents so she can get out of an arranged marriage with a horrible guy her parents have set her up with. Chloe and Andrew start actually falling for each other as they pretend for her parents and Chloe has to navigate her identity with her parents and what kind of person she wants to be.

The romance between Chloe and Andrew was really cute and I liked how they started to truly fall for each other as they confided their struggles and insecurities with one another. It was really hard reading about Chloe's parents and how insensitive they were towards Chloe. Her mom would comment on her weight and was trying to force her into a marriage with a guy she knew wasn't a good person. Chloe was trying so hard to understand her parents while still finding an identity of her own beyond the good daughter she tries to be for her parents.

I do think that the story was drawn out a little too long (this is just under 400 pages), but I enjoyed the journey Chloe went on and how adorable Andrew was and how their romance bloomed!
Profile Image for mahriya➹.
123 reviews195 followers
March 28, 2021

you know when a book has such a promising blurb, and you pick it up, and it also has a promising beginning, so now you're pretty sure you're going to LOVE this story...and then you don't?

yeah, i know the feeling well.

the actual fake dating story line of this (which lasted until 30 % in) was super cute and I was smiling like an idiot!! There was so much adorableness and "omg is this real or not? are we still pretending?!??!" and that's exactly the kind of yearning I am here for.

Unfortunately, the rest of this fell flat for me. Certain plot lines started to just repeat themselves over and over again, way too many times. The book

Parents: Chloe get married to Toxic Rich Asshole please!!
Chloe: No!!
Andrew: omg i'm sorry this sucks what can i do for you? I want to support you as much as I can! UWU.

over. and over again. and at first, i was really enjoying the discussion of arranged marriages and her parents' roles in that, but after a while, i could NOT care less.

chloe's perspective was genuinely interesting to read about though, and i did enjoy seeing her character development.

Drew, on the other hand, was WAY too much of this Perfect Selfess Guy. He hardly ever messes up, says and does ALLLL the right things, and is, in general, BORING with a capital B.

Genuinely, I could not stand how boring and sweet his whole character was PLUS the relationship was wayyyy too healthy for my liking. I know that sounds really toxic and stupid but ... When every conversation goes along the lines of "I'm so sorry I'm here for you take whatever you need from me I care about you so much uwu🤪🤪🤪" then what do you WANT me to say??

in conclusion, my toxic ass couldn't deal with the overload of sappiness in this book and how repetitive it felt 3
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews201 followers
December 20, 2020
Well that was really cute and funny but way too long.

This started out so well and there were a few laugh out loud moments and I absolutely loved the dynamics between Chloe and Drew. The story was engaging and the family completely adorable in their craziness. I won't do any spoilers but there was a point where the story could have ended and I would have loved it. But it didn't end. Then there was another point where it could have ended and I would have been happy. But it didn't end. Then there were a few points where it should have ended but it didn't. I started becoming a bit bored with the attempts to wrap everything up so neatly because the story really started to drag for me. I think it needed an editor to cut chunks out of that last section so it didn't lose the wonderful tone and pace it had throughout the first three-quarters. Still a lovely read.
Profile Image for enqi ༄ؘ 。˚ ⋆♡.
319 reviews618 followers
July 6, 2021
Rent a Boyfriend was truly a breath of fresh air. It was seemingly a cute contemporary with the fake dating trope; but a closer look revealed the heroine's ingrained emotional and psychological issues due to the societal norms she conforms to when growing up. Featuring an Asian heroine who grapples with her dual identities, it explores the complexities and nuances of being an American-born Chinese (ABC). Mandarin is my mother tongue, so I understood every native word in the book perfectly, and I especially loved that the author weaved Mandarin seamlessly into the story because the prose was exactly how I think in my head – a mixture of English interspersed with Chinese words.

Most of all, Chloe/Jing-Jing's struggle to make her typical Asian parents understand her made my heart ache, because it felt like the author had painted a poignant glimpse of my life on a daily basis. In the traditional Asian family, parents often scold, belittle or even demean their children, all because they believe it encourages them to be better versions of themselves. It may sound bizarre, but they do it out of love. However, the crucial flaw is this: children never feel good enough for their parents. After all, their parents' way of showing love is to act in a completely contradictory manner, so they gradually withdraw, and almost never confide in their parents as they grow older. Yet, one thing will always remain: the constant desire for their parents' approval, the never-ending need to keep them happy and be who they want. The disconnect, however, is often painfully obvious.

I hated myself in this house. I hated what my priorities became, what I worried about, the things I said and, more so, didn’t say.

In this book, Chloe rents a fake boyfriend to get her parents' ideal suitor, Hongbo (who's actually a swine), off her back while keeping them happy. According to her, Andrew has everything Hongbo does: family money, a good education, and good looks. Why doesn't she just tell her parents that she doesn't want to marry Hongbo and be done with it? Some readers may not understand the point of the book, but I could see it perfectly: defiance of elders is just not practical or possible in an Asian family. So Chloe spins a web of lies to avoid marrying Hongbo, and one lie leads to another until she's buried under a mountain of her own lies, knowing she must come clean eventually.

But when she finally decides to choose herself (ie. cutting off Hongbo's proposal for good and throwing her parents' public reputation down the toilet in the process), she can't shake that niggling feeling of guilt. When you've spent so long acceding to your parents' requests and shaping yourself into the girl they want you to be, actively breaking away from that identity leaves you lost and adrift.

“Sometimes I’m ashamed at how I’ve clung to them with bloody, torn-apart hands, trying to make it work even after they show me again and again it’s not worth it. But I’m somehow also ashamed of choosing myself now.”

We have a Chinese saying that goes: "打是疼,骂是爱". Loosely translated, it means: spanking a child shows care/adoration, and scolding a child shows love. Many may be quick to decry the environment I grew up in as toxic, but the truth is it's so much more than that. It's a different form of expressing love, a different type of upbringing. And I absolutely loved how the author captured Asian family dynamics in all their complexity, as only someone who has experienced it firsthand could. Even the ending wasn't a perfect, clean slate. There was progress, but there were also unresolved issues. And this is exactly what you would expect from a traditional, conservative Asian family where the words "I love you" have never been explicitly said before, but rather shown in warped, strange ways.

I’d never known what “family” meant, because that word didn’t represent the same thing to me as it seemed to for others, but in that moment I finally understood that inexplicable underlying bond. That desire to move forward out of love, even when it wasn’t perfect.

Another element I really loved was the competitiveness of Chloe's Asian community, which I felt was a perfect representation of the society I live in and the things I dealt with growing up. I went to law school because it plays to my strengths (reading, writing, words, language), but another reason was because it was the only career choice that made sense. I'd wanted to study literature at university, but the harsh reality in my society is that arts graduates cannot find employment, and often work "an artist's salary" as Chloe's mom called it. In the typically materialistic, practical Asian community, professions like law, medicine, and dentistry are celebrated (even economics is seen as an easy-A major and hence inferior), and "impractical" professions like writing, painting or singing are heavily frowned upon.

“Most of the Asians I know came from nothing, like my family, so we had to band together, especially since no one else helped us.” “You’d think that’d be the way to go,” Chloe said, “but my experience has always been that there’s only room for one Asian, so you have to step on the other one to get a leg up. I guess they’re both survival tactics, though I wish my experience had been like yours. No wonder you’re more at peace with your Chinese side than I am—you know, sprinkling Mandarin on everything like it’s sriracha.”

So after I've raved so much about this book, why did I only give it three stars? The major reason was that the characters felt very contrived. I found it very difficult to connect with them, and couldn't root for their developing romance either. The Mandarin words placed in conversations were of course fine with me. But I couldn't help thinking that it might massively turn some readers off, because there was objectively not enough context to figure out what the words meant if you don't know Mandarin, and it does get troublesome to keep flipping to the glossary at the end.

Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,937 reviews1,549 followers
January 27, 2021
So I'm out at about a third. Maybe it's a cultural difference that I can't process but I really, really hate all the deference being given to parents who don't deserve it. Chloe's parents aren't quite pimps but they are looking to sell her "golden purity" to the highest bidder. They've equated "has money" to "make you happy" and say really crappy things like "I know what you need better than you do" and "it's for your own good". Add that they are explicitly thrilled about the perks they are getting from the rich folks (and the ones they anticipate receiving for the rest of their lives) and they are pretty much evil, treating Chloe as a thing to manipulate for their own benefit. And that's before you get to the cardboard villain of Hongbo, the Taiwanese dudebro.

Which means that tying herself in knots trying to appease them is like participating in your own enslavement. Yeah, defying them outright would have financial consequences, but she's a big girl and has brains and essential knowledge of the world. She may have to be at a less prestigious school or work for a while before getting what she wants, but simply kowtowing to them is stupid.

Like I said, that's all attributable to cultural differences if you like. But I truly don't get this.

But then we got to Drew and I was so exasperated I lost all sense of engagement. Yeah, he broke with his family because he wants to be an artist (they kind of have a point about throwing his life away, but cutting him off seems stupidly extreme to me). So I was having some sympathy with him and I'm all ready to cheerlead his determination to forge his own path and all. Only then we learn that the idiot won't actually sell his art, or even let anyone else look at it, because he's a big fat coward. Okay, technically it's because "that'd be the last straw" for his family and there'd be "no coming back from it". But then, if he isn't going to take that last step, then why the heck isn't he just doing what they want anyway? How does this make any sense at all? He's cut off. He hasn't spoken to them in years. But he's afraid to take the last step in doing what he wants because he'd risk never talking to them again? Newsflash genius, you're already cut off. You'll stay cutoff until you toe the line. What's that line from the Karate Kid? "Walk right side, okay. Walk left side, okay. Walk middle, squish, just like grape." Yeah, that. Grape boy.

I didn't last long after that part. I wanted to like these people. But the entire plot rubs me wrong. Parental malpractice makes me sad. Having it rubbed in my face over and over turns out to be intolerable.
Profile Image for Emma.
912 reviews869 followers
November 14, 2020
This was my first Gloria Chao's book, but I'm sure it won't be the last!

Even though it has a trope at its core that we all have seen multiple times, it was not used in the same old way. Here fake dating is taken to a whole other level and Chloe actually hires Drew to pretend to be her fake boyfriend for the holidays, so that she can get her Chinese parents off her back and not marry Hongbo, a disgusting guy her parents want to set her up with.

The premise is obviously what drew me in, but in the end I stayed for the characters, Chloe especially. First of all, I felt for her, she had to endure so much because of her family's beliefs and expectations. There were points that were heartbreaking to read because all they seemed to care about were appearances, instead of Chloe's own true happiness. The relationship between Chloe and her mother was probably the hardest one to read, I hated seeing Mrs. Wang treat her daughter so badly and preach to her such misogynistic views. It just got on my nerves, but I guess that was the point. The family dynamics were complicated and painful, but they definitely were depicted well. I was rooting for Chloe and her happiness so bad.
Drew was such a sweet guy, I really liked him. Seeing him put up the Christmas tree was just the sweetest thing ever, and also the easiest way to my own heart. I believe that Chloe and Drew had good chemistry and I enjoyed their conversations so much.

Rent a Boyfriend has definitely become one of my favourite fake-dating books!
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,693 followers
November 27, 2020
I've read all of Gloria Chao's books so far, and I really think Rent a Boyfriend is my favourite of hers to date.

- Follows Taiwanese-American teens Chloe (known as Jing-Jing to her family and community), a college teen who hires Drew, an artist, as her boyfriend over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Lunar New Year to disentangle herself from a preposterous proposal with the local yet rich asshole.
- This is a warm, empathetic, and nuanced story that blends fluffy and romantic with serious and incisive.
- Chloe and Drew's romance was so gorgeous and wonderful - fake-dating trope at its finest, where the two characters were initially guarded but eventually let each other in to the messiness and intricacies of their lives.
- But I also loved how there was a nuanced exploration of classism (in terms of rich vs poor families and attitudes towards college), sexism, and stigmas in Asian communities.
- The family dynamics in this book was great - truthful and honest in the issues young Asian people face and have to confront, yet also humanising (though not apologetic) in its depiction of Chloe's parents.
- I had so much fun reading this! A fantastic contemporary, one that I'll recommend for anyone who loves the fake-dating trope and unabashed portrayal of messy families.

Trigger/content warning: anti-fat rhetoric (challenged), sexism (challenged), familial conflict, ill loved one, anti-gay rhetoric (challenged)
Profile Image for Shealea.
441 reviews1,201 followers
January 16, 2021
I'm torn.

On one hand, my biggest issue with Chao's debut, American Panda , was the extreme positioning of American values and Asian culture, wherein the former is framed as good while the latter is presented as bad, regressive, and restrictive. I wanted more nuances in this particular discourse, and I have to admit that Rent a Boyfriend delivers more in that aspect. I think that should be acknowledged and commended.

But on the other hand, among all the Gloria Chao books I've read (a total of 3), Rent a Boyfriend is the least enjoyable. I was really impressed by the first 15% of this book. It was cute and everything. However, everything went downhill afterward.

Maybe I'll write a full review someday. But for now, I have to say that I'm personally miffed that teenage pregnancy was portrayed as something repulsive and shameful in this book, and I'm deeply appalled that this notion was never challenged. Not even by the supposedly "progressive" main character.

Not recommended

🌻🍃 More bookish content on Shut up, Shealea 🍃🌻
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,001 reviews368 followers
November 5, 2020
Seriously cute, seriously touching, and seriously good. This was such a refreshing read full of so many emotions. I truly enjoyed every single page from the background of the characters, to the ethnicity, to the heart warming slow burn romance, this was a read perfect to get away for a few hours, let go, and just be.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,794 followers
July 30, 2021
This was an interesting fake dating romance that is based on the real practice of renting boyfriends. While it wasn't my favorite contemporary, Chao did explore some really interesting topics. 3.5 Stars

Rent a Boyfriend centers around Chloe who rents a fake boyfriend in an attempt to dissuade her parents from forcing her to accept a proposal from an extremely unlikeable and quite frankly disgusting suitor. While it wasn't their intention, Chloe and Drew end up getting to know each other through the struggles that each has with familial expectations. If there is one thing that I really enjoyed about this novel, it's Chao's exploration and execution of how difficult it can be to fulfill the dreams parents have for their children when those same parents come from a culturally traditional background. Chloe and Drew spend a lot of this novel trying to balance respecting the traditions of their cultural background while also attempting to carve out experiences and spaces of their own. From rejection to insensitive commentary on body shape, both characters work hard to navigate what it means to truly be yourself. I'm not an ownvoices reviewer; however, there have been ownvoices reviewers who have stated that this exploration is true to a lot of experiences that the children of immigrants grow up in particularly those who are Chinese. Although it was painful to see some dynamics especially the exchanges between Chloe and her mother, it was hilarious seeing Chloe, Drew, and Chloe's parents in the same room. There are some true laugh out loud moments that make the book endearing and the romance even cuter.

Unfortunately, I think that this book suffered severely from pacing issues and length. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style, but I detracted stars for how slow the book moved in certain sections. There were several moments in which the book could have ended, but Chao kept the narrative going. I'm not sure if it was because the story needed to wrap up in a certain way, but it didn't need to be close to 400 pages. This story could have been just as effective and more enjoyable at 300-325 pages. Whenever books become too long with poor pacing I begin to lose interest and that's exactly what happened with this book. At one point I was surprised that the audiobook was still going. Nevertheless, this was a solid read and I did enjoy the commentary and romance.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,763 reviews649 followers
August 19, 2020
This book in a nutshell:

- Girl needs a reason to decline a proposal from the most awful person ever
- Hires professional as a fake boyfriend who should get her parents' approval
- But... are there feelings, maybe?
- Bonding over mooncakes at midnight
- Baking cookies together at Christmas
- Drama, struggles, but also Fluff

This book has such a perfect balance between being a fun romcom and dealing with deeper issues, like how the main character struggles in her relationship with her parents and in her cultural background because of her parents' expectations of her and the way her community judges her and the focus on needing to save face.
Profile Image for Hsinju Chen.
Author 2 books200 followers
November 13, 2020
rent a boyfriend book tour banner

The full schedule for the tour is here on Hear Our Voices Book Tours’ website. Check out my blog (post will be live at 10am Central Time, November 13th, 2020) for Taiwan travel recommendations and more of my thoughts on this book!



Content warnings: sexism, misogyny, classism, fatphobia, arranged marriage, manipulation, disowning, homophobia, a few references to the HP series

“[...] I’m my own knight in shining armor” — Chloe

As a born-and-raised Taiwanese, I was incredibly excited when I first heard about Rent a Boyfriend, a Taiwanese American, fake-dating YA romance. I knew that even though I didn’t grow up in the US, there would be elements in Chloe and Drew’s story that I would recognize. What I didn’t expect was how much of my own life I saw in the book.

Were we all pretending, putting on a better face to fool everyone around us, even our family? [...] Did anyone else go by two names and feel like that separated who they were? — Chloe

Chloe Jing-Jing Wang (19, Taiwanese American) is an economics major at UChicago, much to her parents’ dismay. That and the fact that she doesn’t make an effort in dating. When the seemingly eligible bachelor neighbor Hongbo Kuo (25) suddenly proposes to her, Chloe’s parents jump at the chance to marry her off, for fear she might not get a better husband. But Chloe doesn’t plan on sitting around as life happen to her. For Thanksgiving, she hires fake boyfriend Andrew (real name: Drew Chan, 21, Taiwanese American) from Rent for Your ’Rents to convince her parents that a) she does date, and b) her boyfriend Andrew is perfect—son of surgeons and on his way to med school. While everything in Chloe’s life suddenly becomes an ever-growing lie, her and Drew’s feelings for each other is everything but fake.

I thought this was going to be a very light-hearted story with hilarious disasters surrounding Chloe’s huge charade, and in a way, it was, but there were also many conversations that hit home so hard that I find it painful, too. Growing up, I’ve heard countless variations of the comment, “Aiyah, Jing-Jing, I pick at you because you’re my daughter, [...] That’s how I show I care. I want you to be the best.” I used to equate being scolded as being loved. And to catch glimpses of my life depicted vividly in this book was both incredible and terrifying: the little ticks and quirks of the parents, the sense of disconnection with tradition and culture, and even some of the baffling values and beliefs.

“If you don’t eat enough, you get in trouble, and two seconds later they turn around and tell you you’re too fat, right? You just can’t win! With . . . anything.” — Drew

Some might think it is ludicrous Chloe’s and Drew’s parents behave the way they do—I wonder, too, but to a certain degree, it is also very true. While I am not sure if Chao had intended to exaggerate all the polar-opposite values Asian Americans face growing up, I wasn’t surprised by any of the dialogue, because I have personally heard tamped down versions of the same things—either directed to me or a friend.

“For me, your poor mǎmá who is constantly worrying about you so much her blood pressure is high. Don’t send me to the grave early!” — Chloe��s mother

In Rent a Boyfriend, all the parents are problematic, and we also have the awful spoiled rich boy Hongbo. I think his character embodies, and is almost a caricature of, snobby, pompous rich guys, and is a stark contrast to guāi (good, well-behaved) boys which parents prefer their daughters to date. The story also briefly touches upon homophobia within the Asian community, and how some Rent for Your ’Rents clients hired fake dates because they weren’t ready to come out.

The story is told in both Chloe’s and Drew’s first-person points of view, letting the readers in more on Chloe’s motives and Drew’s backstory. I love the contrasting themes in the story, such as Chloe’s initial rejection and Drew’s embrace of their cultural roots as well as the balance between falsehood and truth—though Drew fakes for a living, he is true to himself. And I especially love and deeply appreciate the uses of Mandarin and one Taiwanese phrase in the dialogues. I am not sure what the reading experience would be for non-Mandarin-speaking readers, but I love that Rent a Boyfriend really talked me. There were so many instances I laughed out loud because the word choices were so on point. And there are also many details that connect the whole story well.

“We’re older. We have life experiences. Haven’t we taught you to respect your elders?” — Chloe’s father

Drew is incredibly sweet. I love him from the beginning while Chloe fails to treat him well. We see both of them working through their own issues—Chloe’s identities and Drew’s dreams—before they can finally come together with a believable future. And I love how much potential their future holds. Though almost every other character is not very nice, minor characters such as Drew’s roommate Jason, also a Rent for Your ’Rents operator, and his boyfriend Marshall are truly what friends are for.

The way Chao integrated Taiwanese culture into the story is wonderful. Rent a Boyfriend is not only a sweet romance, but also a soul searching journey. The larger story is about being in touch with all of oneself, that bad memories and misunderstandings should never taint one’s wholeness.

I received both physical and electronic ARCs from Simon and Schuster via Hear Our Voices Book Tours.


Note that this is an almost direct translation. I wrote the review in English and translated it to Chinese.


身為土生土長的臺灣人,我初次聽到Rent a Boyfriend(意譯:租男友)這本臺裔美人、假約會的青少年愛情小說時興奮無比。雖然我並非在美國長大,我相信Chloe與Drew的故事會有我認得的文化元素。但我完全沒想到這本書會這麼反映我的人生。

王晶晶(Chloe,19歲,臺裔美人)不顧父母反對在芝加哥大學主修經濟學。王夫婦也對於Chloe不打扮、約會感到失望。當看似黃金單身漢的Hongbo Kuo(25歲)前來提親時,王夫婦迫不及待嫁女兒,害怕錯過這千載難逢的機會。但Chloe不願生活完全被打點。感恩節時,她聘請Andrew(真名:Drew Chan,21歲,臺裔美人,畫家)扮演假男友已說服父母她的確有在約會,而且有一位完美男友:醫生世家並準備從醫。當Chloe的人生變得處處都是騙局,只有她與Drew之間的感情才是真的。



Rent a Boyfriend中,所有的父母都不適任,此外還有糟糕透頂、被寵壞了的富家子弟Hongbo。我覺得他這個角色代表所有勢力、自大的有錢人,恰好與父母們挑女婿時所求的「乖」呈現強烈對比。本故事也稍微提及亞洲社群裡的恐同現象,像是有些人會因為還沒打算出櫃而租男友度過家庭聚會。

故事透過Chloe與Drew兩人的第一人稱視角闡述,讓讀者更能了解Chloe的動機與Drew的背景。我非常喜觀故事中的對比主題,像是起初Chloe與Drew分別對自己文化根源的排斥與完全接納,以及真與假的平衡:儘管Drew以假扮男友維生,他事實上更是忠於自己。我特別喜愛書中對話使用的華語以及一句臺語。我並不確定不會華語的讀者會有什麼樣的閱讀經驗,但我喜歡Rent a Boyfriend和我對談到的感覺。閱讀過程中,有數不清的用字精確到令我捧腹。書中也有許多細節將整個故事連串起來。


作者將臺灣文化整合進整個故事令人激賞。Rent a Boyfriend不只是個可愛甜美的愛情故事,更是追尋自我的旅程。巨觀而言,這個故事更是關於尋求深根自己的一切,以及即使過去發生過不好的事情,一個人的完整性並不應因此受到威脅。


Check out my teaser post on Instagram here!
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,632 followers
December 22, 2020
So fun! I didn't know, from this aggressively pink cover, that this was a Christmas book, and YET, it takes place from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day, with a good chunk of it at Christmas. Loved the descriptions of blending Taiwanese traditions with American, and it was heartbreaking/fascinating to read about the struggles of American-born Taiwanese/Asian children vs. their immigrant parents. This was not, despite the cover (again, SO PINK!) a fluffy cotton candy read, but one that dealt with some really serious issues. I loved it, and like all the best books, it also made me hungry for the foods she talked about- except Frankenbao, that sounds bad.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,844 reviews
November 13, 2020
Rent a Boyfriend is my third book by this author. It is a contemporary romantic comedy. But with a younger feel. It is not really YA (the narrators are 19 and 21). It focuses on the cultural aspects of being a Taiwanese American and dealing with Asian parents.

The narrators are 19 year old Chloe (1st person POV). And 21 year old Drew (1st person POV).

Chloe's family lives in Palo Alto, California. She goes to school in Chicago. The book's main focus is on the different holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chinese New Year...).

I have enjoyed this author's previous books. And I really like experiencing different cultures. The idea of Asian people having to rent boyfriends to please their critical parents is a crazy but fascinating idea.

I was a bit confused at first because it does not tell us the heroine's age until 1/3 of the way through the book. Honestly from what I read I thought that she was a few years older. So I wish that had been made clear earlier.

I enjoyed the idea of this book. The beginning was maybe a bit slow for me. But overall it was cute. The ending was super strong. The last 10% was my favorite.

Thanks to netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me to read this book.
Profile Image for Lisa (Remarkablylisa).
2,253 reviews1,812 followers
May 11, 2021
Not as bad as American panda but i still didn't like the asian american rep in this. It definitely is more traditional asian immigrant thinking and the last thing i want is readers of other cultures to feel like this is the same way of thinking across the whole board of east asians.
Profile Image for Estíbaliz Montero Iniesta.
Author 36 books949 followers
September 16, 2022
No ha sido lo que buscaba ☹️, uno de esos casos en los que las expectativas equivocadas matan el libro. Empecé esta lectura buscando una comedia romántica con la relación de relación falsa/novio por encargo, y bueno, el cliché está, pero la verdad es que no definiría esta historia en absoluto como comedia romántica. No me he reído demasiado, y no solo eso, sino que es que hay escenas en las que lo he pasado mal.

Me explico: nuestra protagonista, Chloe, es una joven de familia asiática pero criada en América, y como tal, se ve sometida a muchas expectativas que no puede ni quiere cumplir. Pero, para hacer felices a sus padres y que no la obliguen a casarse con un tipo despreciable solo porque es de buena familia, contrata al perfecto novio asiático por internet: Drew.

Hasta aquí todo bien, y en una comedia romántica, sabemos más o menos por dónde irían los tiros. Pero en Rent a boyfriend, en vez de reírme con los enredos, me he enfadado mucho. Sobre todo con los padres de Chloe. Entiendo el concepto de que los padres asiáticos pueden ser diferentes o darle más importancia a otras cosas, pero para mí ha sido demasiado. Hay escenas en las que no es que sean exigentes, es que directamente me parecen malas personas, tanto con su hija como con el chico con que creen que está su hija. Sé que hay muchos factores en juego, y no quiero hacer spoilers a nadie, pero de verdad que su actitud y sus actos no me parecen excusables. Y para mí, eso me ha estropeado bastante el disfrute del libro.

La evolución de la relación de Chloe y Drew, cómo pasan de una transacción comercial a ir conociéndose, me ha gustado bastante, son bastante tiernos y ambos van gestionando sus propios problemas como pueden, de una forma bastante realista. Pero no han sido suficiente para contrarestar la ausencia de humor y los horribles padres de Chloe.
Profile Image for My_Strange_Reading.
527 reviews83 followers
April 4, 2021
I listened to this on audio. The voice actors were 👌🏼.

Oh man, I feel like this book doubled as a cultural studies class. I was SO PISSED at the Mom, and was talking to my co-worker and friend about how: SHE SHOULD JUST LET HER BE HAPPY. WHY CAN’T SHE JUST SUPPORT HER!? And my sweet friend was like: that’s not reality. 😆🤦🏻‍♀️ So, I learned some lessons in this book.

But I digress, back to the review.

Chloe hires Drew through Rent for Your Rents to save her from a HORRENDOUS engagement, and the web of lies and love that ensues is mind-boggling at times.

My general thoughts:
♥️ I love how supportive Chloe and Drew are of each other’s dreams and lives
🕸 I am repeating myself but I LOVED the audiobook. The voice actors were INCREDIBLE
♥️ I loved the development of Chloe’s character. She goes from hiding to identifying what she wants to actually expressing it and fighting for it. It was a great arc.
🕸 I wish I could see Drew’s art in the real world. It sounds magical.
Profile Image for Avani ✨.
1,584 reviews329 followers
August 27, 2022
2.5 probably.

The book was average, at times boring and also just blahh.

The plot was not at all interesting after a point and I was waiting for it to finish it.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,590 followers
November 30, 2020
Who's tired of the fake dating trope? Definitely not me! Especially when it involves a college student hiring a fake boyfriend just to trick her parents into thinking that she's nabbed an eligible bachelor.

I adored Rent a Boyfriend so much! We often hear about traditional Chinese parents being super strict and being "tiger moms" and in this case, that's what Chloe is experiencing here. Her relationship with her father is strained, especially since he never really communicates with her, and her mother's critical and judgmental words are enough to give anyone a headache. It's no wonder that Chloe hired Drew to impress her parents after all of the pressure she is under.

As a Chinese-Australian who is struggling to communicate and relate to my parents, this book really hit home that many other Asians in diaspora feel exactly the same way. Chloe feels like she has to hide who she really is just to make her parents happy, and then when she realises that she is sacrificing her own happiness for their expectations that she will never live up to, she starts seeing things in a different light. I loved how she could connect to Andrew, despite being from different social standings and upbringings, and how they bonded over empathy and kindness.

Andrew himself was totally swoonworthy - he's obviously learnt how to take cues from others, and he's incredibly empathetic and helpful as well. He has his own journey to go through here, especially after meeting Chloe, and I loved seeing the character growth and the steamy moments between the two of them.

Rent a Boyfriend is a lot of fun and highlights the complicated relationship that a "good filial daughter" and her traditional strict Chinese parents, and the wealthy community in which they reside. It also addresses the lack of communication between parents and daughter and the secrets that are kept behind closed doors.

Check out Happy Indulgence Books for more reviews!
Profile Image for Leo.
4,302 reviews385 followers
July 21, 2021
I liked the themes and such in this book. The twist on the fake dating thrope, hiring a boyfriend to get less stress from family to date. Liked that it had insperation from reality in something that I haven't heard of before. But as for a romance book, it didn't quite work for me. Didn't get attached to the characters or the romance. Didn't think it was a bad book by any means but not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for cossette.
293 reviews233 followers
September 29, 2021
find the full review & others on my blog 🤍

Trigger warnings: Fatphobia, Cancer (parent with cancer), misogyny, slut shaming, racism, xenophobia, family estrangement, homophobia, manipulation, deceit

Reading Rent a Boyfriend was like revisiting my younger self. I’ve never felt the need to rent a fake boyfriend to take home to my mother, but I would be lying if the idea didn’t tempt me at times when extended family is involved — I mean, there’s only so many “When are you bringing a boy home? When are you getting married?” questions that I can take. What was most relatable, though, was how Chloe seemed to have so many different versions of herself; the one that she was at school, the one she was at home with her family, and the one she was with Drew. I spent so much of my youth stifling and shielding who I was from my family, or picking choices simply because they were the ones that would please my family, so following Chloe’s journey to be her true and honest self simply hit home.

Growing up, I was always told how lucky I was to be able to move to America, to be promised a “better education”. The underlying sentiment of how much was sacrificed for this “better life” and “better education” was never lost on me, including ties to my home and my culture. Chloe has quickly joined the never-ending list of my favorite YA female characters. She’s funny, witty, caring, and compassionate, a hard worker, loving, and relatable. But my favorite thing about her is that her being Taiwanese isn’t her entire identity, but a part of who she is. Just like Chloe, I struggled – and still struggle – with not being enough of one culture.

Rent a Boyfriend is unapologetically Taiwanese, and a true delight. I’m a huge lover of romance and rom coms, and to see one with a Taiwanese cast was just so refreshing. I can’t name many rom coms that do the same. Chang’e is one of my favorite legends, and seeing her story incorporated into Rent a Boyfriend made me smile.

As a love interest, Drew was completely swoon worthy, with his heart of gold, unending support, and nuggets of wisdom. I loved how much he truly cared about Chloe, and how was just as invested in the chapters where it was centered around his perspective as I was Chloe’s. Most importantly, I thought Chloe and Drew complimented each other really well, and were monumental in helping each other heal and develop. I was as invested in their dynamic as I was in them as separate entities.

Overall, I absolutely adored Rent a Boyfriend, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good rom-com. Not to mention, it’s centered around the holidays — What better time to read it than right now, during holiday season?
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books487 followers
September 30, 2020
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Hello, yea, this is Celia, and I have something to say. This book hit all the sweet spots for me, and I now know to make congee and I'm going to eat it all the time.

That being said, thank you Edelweiss, and the publisher for the arc.

Chloe needs to get her traditional Taiwanese parents off her back so, for Thanksgiving break, she hires a boyfriend from Rent for your 'Rents as a stand-in so they'll back off trying to get her to marry sleazy Hongbo. But against all the rules (duh) Chloe begins to fall for Andrew and soon neither can tell one lie from another. Secrets emerge in an almost hilarious showdown with both strict hymen obsessed parents and a girl who just wants to say, "eff it all," but can't for so many reasons.

I loved the heart of this book. Chloe wants nothing more than to shed the toxicity of her Taiwanese roots and show her parents that she is not a prize to be won, nor does she need a man to make a future for herself. The easy dip into romance had me smiling. Andrew and Chloe fit together so seamlessly that I wondered why it took them so long to notice.

As a white woman, I don't have much experience with Chinese culture and family dynamics other than what is portrayed in film and television. Despite that, I did enjoy learning the foods and terms that I had not heard of before. What I could relate to is the dynamic of children and their parents, and how there is love there but there is also pain, guilt, and some resentment. Chao painted a realistic picture of how hard love can be, and the ways we all sometimes have to accommodate feelings to spare our own.

Overall, an enjoyable read with a great ending.
Profile Image for laura.
98 reviews268 followers
March 1, 2021
4/5 :)

I think the best part of this book is the humor. The little bits of it everywhere is really entertaining and makes me smile and laugh.

Chloe’s (Jing-Jing’s) parents kind of reminds me of Cath’s parents from Heartless. Except the king is not even half as bad as Hongbo…

this book gave me serious Crazy Rich Asians vibes…




bahahahaha not THE talk 😳😭
JingJing's mom is too funny i cant-
The alarms in my head went off like there was a fire and tornado and flood around the corner. (498)



I had never felt so utterly, completely alone. (277)

bruh- i can't believe her parents are making her go through this🥺



Game. On. All I had to do was convince my parents that he was the love of my life and theirs. Piece of (moon)cake, right?

excited to start this one :)

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