He's cosplaying as her boyfriend but their feelings for each other are real in this romantic comedy from Seressia Glass.
Sometimes Kenya Davenport believes she was switched at the hospital--how else could a lover of anime, gaming, and cosplay come from STEM parents? Still, Kenya dreams of being able to turn her creative hobby into a career. She finally has a chance to make it big when she joins the reality show competition Cosplay or No Way.
There's just one catch: the challenge for the final round is all about iconic pairs, and the judges want the contestants' significant others to participate. Unfortunately, Kenya is as single as can be at the moment. Luckily her best friend, Cameron Lassiter, agrees to be her fake boyfriend for the show. Roleplaying a couple in love will force them to explore what they're hiding under the mask of friendship. Can Kenya and Cam fake it until she makes it, or will she be real about her feelings, knowing it could cost her the best friend she's ever had?
Seressia Glass is an award-winning author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance and paranormal romance. Her current series include the Shadowchasers urban fantasy series and the Sons of Anubis paranormal romance series.
Seressia lives north of Atlanta with her guitar-wielding husband and two attack poodles. When not working on her next story, Seressia is an instructional designer for an international home improvement company. She spends her free time people-watching, belly dancing, and watching way too much anime.
This was SO GOOD. I instantly began shouting at my friends to read it after I finished. This is a romance novel with so many layers from a girl fighting for her dreams and hopes of thriving in a creative career to a complex relationship forming with a life long friend. Add in the reality tv element and you're in for a riiiide. I highly recommend this one!
This was definitely the year of realizing I do in fact like romance books.. o.O;
This was an absolute delight. Cameron's constant puppy dog eyes and blatant devotion to Kenya warmed my cold heart and I just adored everything about this. It was SO well written and swoony and fat positive and I enjoyed every second spent in between these pages. This was my first time reading something from Seressia Glass but it absolutely will not be my last. THIS WAS SO LOVELY YOU ALL JUST NEED TO READ IT OKAY? OKAY
CW: death of a parent, child neglect (in the past), alcoholism
Edit on pub day: I picked up this book to make a post on instagram about it and I started like, randomly rereading passages and was transported back to how much I love it GUYS THIS BOOK IS SERESSIA GLASS'S NERDY GIFT TO US AND WE DO NOT DESERVE HER!!!!
I LOVED THIS BOOK A LOT!!! LIKE, SO MUCH!! Honestly, anyone who's ever been into fandom or cosplay should buy it and read it and then buy another copy in case the first falls apart. I cannot wait for the fandom/romance community to welcome this amazing baby-they are going to FREAK in the best possible way! It has all my fave tropes (friends-to-lovers, fake-dating, mutual pining, opposites attract), it's deliciously steamy, it made me crave gummy worms, and it made me fall in love with KenCam. A truly hilarious romcom that also deals with how women, BIPOC, and most of all women of color can be mistreated and marginalized in fannish environments. Basically: a perfect read, 900 stars out of 5, would recommend to anyone, Kenya is my best friend now.
Disclosure: I received a free ARC from the publisher, and Seressia and I share a publisher (Berkley).
I thought I was getting a sweet, fun, and light friends to lovers, but I actually got something quite emotional. Kenya following her dreams throughout the book was so inspirational. Her challenges were a great illustration of how following your dreams, especially ones seen as peculiar in the eyes of society, can be really hard. What we explored most was the lack of support you will usually receive when pursuing these unconventional things, especially the lack of support from family. Adding her race to this and the many stereotypes she had to face made this one a hard yet really realistic read. I loved that this book didn’t seem to have the seemingly perfect end most people would expect a book to have, but not on a terrible note that would make us regret reading the book.
Cam and Kenya were so cute!!! Having two characters have feelings for each other without each other knowing is always fun! You would think it's so obvious to them, but that’s the thing about friends to lovers. That “love” is already there, all that is missing is the romance. I always say I like the “enemies to lovers” trope better but reading a friends to lovers like this always has me questioning my bold statement. It was fascinating how Glass also explored what love really is, especially between friends who've had each other forever. Is it love or are they just used to each other?
This is a cute and nice that's kinda fake-dating-y book with subplots about microaggressions and cosplay and annoying families. If any of those five things (cute, nice, microaggressions, cosplay, being irritated by those whose blood is similar to yours) sounds up your alley, I recommend this book.
As is, I can only truly appreciate one and a half of them (give it your best guess) and I still thought this was a fun one.
Hurray for looking on the bright side for once!
Bottom line: When a book is good and not quite for you but still not NOT for you, what is there to really say?
a rom com with a subplot about microaggressions?? sometimes life gives me gifts i didn't even know to ask for.
review to come / 3ish stars
--------------- tbr review
i don't know a lot about cosplay (what this book is about), but i do know about the fake dating trope (what this book is REALLY about, to me). and what i know is that it rules.
thanks to netgalley or the publisher or whoever is responsible for this!
This is one of those books that I wanted to adore so badly; however, I just couldn't get into it the way that everyone else does. I loved the nerdy cosplay and pop culture aspects, but I didn't really connect with the romance.
The Love Con focuses on Kenya who is in the final round of a cosplay competition. When the last task ends up being a couple's challenge, Kenya enlists her best friend as fake boyfriend to be her partner. The two then work together in hopes of turning Kenya's dream into her career. The very first issue that I ran across with this title is that we don't get to see anything related to the competition before this final round. While that may not necessarily bother many people, I felt as though we lose some context of the tension that is felt between some participants, judges, and Kenya. While Glass does provide an explanation, I think that it would have been great to see some of this actual behavior as it was taking place.
Additionally, I struggled with the relationship between Kenya and Cameron. It's clear that the two have had feelings for each other for a while and I don't necessarily do well with that trope because it is, in fact, a miscommunication. If you know anything about me and the romance that I read, then you'll know that I absolutely loathe the miscommunication trope. It's clear that the two characters have had an extensive relationship before the start of the book, but once again we don't have the privilege of seeing that relationship. The feelings were already there so it wasn't like anything was being developed during the "fake dating." As a result, I wasn't invested and it honestly never pulled me in.
I did enjoy all of the pop culture references and seeing a Black woman into cosplay, comics, and more. That representation is particularly important to me as a reader; however, the rest of the story wasn't executed well enough for me to completely enjoy the story as a whole.
When I saw the cover and synopsis of The Love Con I knew I wanted to read this book. It just looked so fun, and overall, it really was a fun read. If you love cosplay and reading about the technical parts of costume making I think you would love this book!
Kenya is a finalist in a reality show called Cosplay or No Way and she's up against one other guy. The last challenge they have is a Cosplay duo... and they only have 4 weeks to make these costumes. She recruits her best friend, Cam to be her partner for this final challenge. And she might have accidently told the entire world he was not only her best friend, but her boyfriend as well.
Cam and Kenya have been best friends since high school, so over half their lives. They know each other well and truly do love each other. But Cam's feelings have been more than friendship for a while now. And now is the time to show Kenya what it could be like if they were truly together.
This is my first book by this author and I liked it a lot. It was a friends to lovers/fake dating troupe, which is always fun. I'm not sure that I loved the conflict and I felt like it was resolved really fast and in a strange way. Also, it ended really abruptly which is something I don't love in books. Still, I had a blast reading this one and I liked it more than not!
4.5 stars -- The vibes on this one are so ✨wholesome✨which is just what I've needed recently. That is not to say that this is a "closed door" type book, but just that this is a book filled with well meaning people who you understand why they are doing what they are doing and the majority of them are incredibly good intentioned. So the resulting tension isn't from "oh is this person is being a jerk;" it is more that they are collaboratively working together to transition from a platonic friendship relationship to a romantic one. There were a few moments of stiffness in the writing that kept it from being a full 5 stars, but other than that- this just made me smile. Recommended for fans of SPOILER ALERT last year!
The Love Con by Seressia Glass Contemporary rom com. Friends to lovers / fake relationship troupes. Kenya has loved and participated in cosplay for a long time. She hopes to create a design business out of her successful contest wins. Put on the spot for the next contest, she brings her best friend Cameron into the spotlight as co-designer and partner aka lover. Cameron’s all in on the ruse. He’s loved Kenya for a long time.
An adorable and geekie romance that puts Kenya and Cameron together in work and play. Having a camera follow them around forces an intimacy they both secretly want but haven’t talked about. Communication people! But that would have changed the story so I’m moving on. Oh how disappointed I was in her parents! And that the judge that didn’t like Kenya didn’t have to explain her bias left a hole in the story. Humorous, HEA and still friends is one of my favorite romances.
Once she admits to herself that he means more than just a con “I want to ride you like a pogo stick.”
This is a case of a book having specific things that bother ME as a romance reader, while also doing a lot of things very well. If you're looking for a geeky friends to lovers romance with cosplay and reality TV that also addresses microagressions, you might give The Love Con a try! This follows a Black woman competing on cosplay TV show who ends up getting her best friend to help her and pretend to be her boyfriend for the final round. Of course he takes it as an opportunity to make a move like he's been wanting to for years.
There was a lot I liked about this- the focus on the technical side of cosplay, exploring fandom as a place for legitimate careers, dealing with the microagressions that Black women and fat Black women face in these spaces.... That was all great. The romance was a bit more of a mixed bag for me.
I think this book helped me realize that I'm picky about enjoying a friends to lovers plot. I have a hard time with something like this where they've been friends since they were children and he's had a thing for her for a lot of that time. It just feels deceptive to spend literal years acting like you aren't more than friends. In this case it works out because she ends up having feelings for him, but there are cases where that doesn't happen and things become toxic. I think I prefer a more recent friends-to-lovers story rather than from childhood, unless they've been separated for years and are reconnecting. It also doesn't help that they end up lying about being in a relationship to the most important people in their lives. I mean yes, I get that it's to try to not slip up on the show, but I'm not a fan of lying to your parents and best friend like this. Speaking of which, her parents are pretty awful and it's just glossed over at the end.
While there were scenes and moments where I was rooting for them, in general I was kind of uncomfortable with this setup and that made it hard for me to totally get into it. One other thing that isn't my favorite is this trope of thinking someone won't want to be with you because you're fat and assuming straight size people to be more attractive, even when you have evidence this person is into you. I get that is a real experience people have, but I don't like reading it in my escapist romances and it's not my preferred version of fat representation in the genre.
I was told this book is similar to Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (which I loved!) and in many ways that's true: geeky theme, fat heroine, friends to lovers plus fake dating tropes, dealing with public spectacle and fatphobia.... The thing for me is the details made me enjoy this less:
Childhood friends to lovers instead of adult friends. Explicitly lying to close friends and family. A heroine who has more insecurities about her body and spends time doubting whether the hero could actually be into her. The couple not being honest with each other about their feelings until very late in the game.
This isn't going to bother every reader because we all have different things we do and don't like, which is the beauty of the romance genre! But I wanted to give people a heads up in case you need it. That said, if you aren't bothered by any of that I would definitely recommend giving this book a shot. It does a really good job with the subject matter of cosplay and microagressions.
*Friends to Lovers (very strong friendship as a foundation for their love relationship) *Hero Who Adores the Heroine *Geeky Fandom *Sexy Plus Sized Heroine Comfortable in Her Own Skin *Pop Culture References * A Couple You Root to Get Their HEA *Interracial Romance (without the racial drama being the big part of the story) *People Going After Their Dreams
I loved this book. It's fast-paced and humorous, but also poignant. There are some really tense moments that had me on the edge of my seats. I would have gave it five if the love scenes were a little more steamy and description like they deserve to be because Kenya and Cam had fantastic tension together.
3-3.5 stars! This was cute but I can’t say I fell in love with the characters. I liked the idea of the story, with friends who fake date for a cosplay competition, but I wasn’t as invested in all of it as much as I wanted to be. I think partly it was the audiobook - the narration felt flat to me.
Kenya has made it to the finals of the reality competition show Cosplay or No Way. Just one last round and she’ll have proved to everyone, especially her parents and that one judge who seems to have it out for her, that someone like her, black and fat, can make it. When asked if she has a significant other to be her partner for the final round, Kenya names Cameron, her best friend. Cam is willing to play Kenya’s boyfriend in front of the cameras but is hoping to convince Kenya that they are meant to be something more. This rom-com is a mashup of the fake-dating, friends-to-lover, fandom, cosplay, and reality TV shenanigans, and is made all the better by being told from the POV of both characters. Kenya is confident, driven, and just amazing as she works through all the craziness (some good and a lot bad) that being on the show means for her. Cam is wonderful as well and always has Kenya’s back. The two of them shine when they’re together and their banter is fun, frequently flirty, and full of heart. This book is perfect if you liked Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade or Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala. -- Dominique A.
It was cute but I wasn’t really impressed. There was so much sexual tension in the beginning just for the smut to be anti climactic and basically nonexistent. I liked that Kenya’s blackness wasn’t watered down just because her partner was white. I do wish they acknowledged the fact that Kenya was dealing with production basically sabotaging her, judges and fans being hella critical and all the other micro aggressions were because of racism. Even the fact that Kenya was known for holding in all her emotions and not being allowed to react without being seen as “angry” is a response to anti blackness and sure I peeped it but that’s cuz I’m black. I think it was a bit careless to skip over the root of these issues especially when this could’ve been an educating moment for Kenya’s white boyfriend. Cam was really sweet and supportive but it almost felt like he had no other personality trait than being a perfect supportive boyfriend.
This was a very cute and fun romantic comedy. I really liked the premise of following a contestant on a cosplay competition who is the underdog. I loved the main character Kenya and found her voice to be fresh and engaging. Kenya has always been a nerd and her dram is to make costumes which disturbs her parents who want her to get a real job. For the finale of the show she needs to create two costumes for her and for her partner, her best friend Cam. Cam has his own plan: help Kenya win the competition and win her heart. The atypical chaos and drama of a romantic comedy ensue and it was fun.
- Really enjoyed how much this book felt like I was watching a movie! From start to finish I was all in and really wanted to know who would win the competition. I found myself getting so frustrated with the fmc parents and swooning over the fake dating situation! - I love how this author really touched on serious topics, but in a lighthearted way when talking about how black women can be stereotyped into someone we’re not. This happens so often and it was great to see this weaved into the story, while still feeling very realistic. - I do wish that there had been more dialogue and more cute moments (like the game night little situation) outside of creating the cosplay pieces. Overall, I thought the story was really cute! This was my first book from this author and won’t be my last!
I really liked getting to see characters be passionate about something I know nothing about, so Kenya's drive, charm, and dedication made this a really enjoyable read. And her fake relationship (that quickly spurs some real feelings) with her best friend, Cam was beyond adorable. The mutual love and pining was everything I wanted.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
3.5 - A fun romance to start off my reading in 2022! The Love Con follows Kenya as she’s competing on a cosplay competition TV show and gets herself into a fake dating situation with her best friend Cameron. I LOVE fake dating stories and while friends to lovers isn’t my favorite trope I felt like it really worked here. There was enough background information to make me understand their connection and why they’ve never gotten together before. I enjoyed the chemistry between Kenya and Cam.
I liked the backdrop of the cosplay competition show, it gave a lot of space for the author to explore microaggressions Black women and plus size women face in fandom spaces and in the world in general. Although, sometimes it felt like the descriptions of the costumes they were working on and how they were making things overtook the story. It was obviously important to the progression of the plot, but there were just too many details about things that didn’t feel completely necessary.
Also, not to sound like a smut fiend or anything… but this book’s sex scene was so underwhelming. Which surprised me since I really felt the building tension between the characters. While the scene itself wasn’t exactly fade to black, there was so little description it was like I blinked and it was over. So there wasn’t enough time for me to really feel the emotional or physical connection between the characters in that scene.
This is the second fake romance while competing on a reality TV show that I've read. I grabbed it because of the diversity, and because I have only watched about a minute and a half of a reality show before I turned it off. What is it that others enjoy that just seems like super noisy fakeness to me?
Well, the book answered the question (a sense of competition, obvs!)in giving us a couple of cos-playing best friends who design and make costumes. That I find tres cool. The twist (not a spoiler as you learn it early on) is they have to pretend to be lovers for purposes of the show, when they've been tight friends. So: friends to lovers, which can be a tougher sell than enemies to lovers.
Glass makes it work by surrounding Kenya and Cameron with terrific characters (especially Kenya's family) and by throwing a ton of plot at the reader around the romance, so to speak. We get covert racism, trolls, the naked ambition that really does exist in Hollywood, where you do find people who actively relish stepping on someone else to get to the top (which is one of the main reasons I got out of that world, much as I adored the creativity). This aspect of the story is really absorbing, almost overwhelming the romance.
I had to stop and think about why, when Glass gives us plenty of description of how hot they find one another. I began to believe in the evolution of their romance once I hit the back end of the story, when Glass lets us in on flashbacks. In that first half, the narrative voice keeps telling us about their relationship, which creates a distance romance-wise, while steadily building the plot tension around the TV show. I could wish those flashbacks had been up front, but really, the payoff makes it all worth it.
I loved the couple, I loved reading about their designs and how they went about accomplishing them. I adored the end. The voice is also fun--salty, for those who watch for language, with exuberant appreciation for each other's hotness. Altogether a fun read--I intend to watch out for this author.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this story since I don't know much about cosplaying, and I knew that it was a major topic in this story. That being said, I was able to follow along just fine, and I genuinely enjoyed the high stakes competition.
I really liked Kenya as a MC. She's fat and Black, and she will do whatever it takes to prove people that she has what it takes to make it when it comes to costume design and fabrication. I also really enjoyed the LI, Cameron, who is basically Thor 2.0 and Kenya's best friend. They have really fantastic chemistry, and you can tell that both of them would do anything for the other.
The two things that I did not particularly enjoy with this story (not that it made it bad by any means) was the constant fatphobia and othering that both Kenya and Cameron were subjected to because "how dare a gorgeous white man be attracted to a fat Black woman". It got real annoying. The second thing was Kenya's parents. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but they were too much.
Thank you to Berkley for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
It's been awhile since I read a Seressia Glass book and she did not disappoint. This book was everything a friends to lover story should be. Karen and Cameron really cared for and respected each other.
Kenya Davenport has been trying to make it a cosplay designer and her parents were not supportive of her dreams. Luckily her best friend Cameron Lassiter had her back and agreed to pretend to be her boyfriend on a tv reality show that required a duo cosplay costume. Their "relationship" became part of the storyline on the show so the two friends had to sell it. But at some point, they realized it wasn't pretend anymore and they really felt more than friendship for each other.
What made this book really great for me was the communication. Cameron and Kenya talked about the small and big stuff regardless of how hard it was. That was the key to the relationship being believable. They also had chemistry in spades so you couldn't help but root for them as a couple and to win the reality show.
This story was one of my favorites this year and I highly recommend this author.
There have been so many fandom-centric romance novels coming out recently, and this is another charmer for sure! If you're into cosplay or even geek fandom, this is a book you're going to want to pick up. It's fun, sweet, sexy, and FUNNY, and pulled off the childhood friends-to-lovers dynamic in a way that felt true to the characters' relationship and their very intense history together. Plus, as someone who's lived in Atlanta for the last several years, I'm always excited to see more books set here too. Fake dating + sharing a bed + reality competition environment (which I very much enjoyed)! My one quibble was that the parents had so much concern about Kenya and Cameron and then came around over the course of a single conversation, but it was a minor issue that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel.
content notes: racist microaggressions against heroine
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I loved these two oblivious nerds! THE LOVE CON by Seressia Glass was the lovely, low-angst romance I needed in my life at the moment. Set with a reality show backdrop, this friends to lovers, fake dating romance novel was a fun, quick read with imperfect characters you can really root for.
Kenya, our heroine, was absolutely my favorite character. She is a cosplay fan trying to make her dreams into a professional reality on a competition show called Cosplay or No Way, and she’s in the finals! When she finds out that she needs a partner for the last round, she names her longtime best friend and roommate, Cam… and maybe insinuates that he is her partner in ALL ways.
I don’t usually enjoy romance novels with a reality show twist, but I thought Glass balanced the contrived show drama and the real-life drama Kenya and Cam had to deal with throughout the book. The conversations about microaggressions and the unfair labels Black women have to battle every day were incredibly impactful. Glass masterfully wove the lighthearted romance moments with serious and socially relevant commentary throughout the book.
As for the romance? Sometimes I just like reading about two characters who love and respect each other the whole dang time, and that is this book! We know that Cam loves Kenya right from the beginning, and it was an absolute delight watching Kenya go from “I love this guy” to “I am in love with this man,” a fundamental distinction. Cam was SUCH a simp for Kenya, and she’s so awesome I couldn’t blame him for a minute!
Did this book rely heavily on the characters not sitting down and having an honest conversation about their feelings? Sure. But I think it made total sense with the reality show work schedule and the awkwardness of trying to change a decades-long relationship.
I wish the steam had been a little more fleshed out. It felt like the tension was there until the characters actually did the deed, and then it was kind of… gone. I think part of it was the end pacing of the book; it felt rushed and a little choppy. I also really dislike other woman drama, which was another reason I gave this book four stars instead of five – but it didn’t entirely impact my enjoyment.
Overall, this was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. The cosplay information was fascinating, the secondary characters were complex and engaging, and I loved Cam and Kenya!
**I received a free copy of this book in order to provide an honest review**