Recommendations Trope Tuesday

#TropeTuesday: Books with Fake Relationships (That Aren’t To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before)

I should probably preface this with I love To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before — it’s an incredible book — but it seems to be the go to recommendation when you ask for book recommendations with a fake relationship. Believe me, I know how frustrating is to have feel like you’ve read every good book out there with your favourite trope . . . staring at the ceiling, defeated, counting the chips in the paint as you contemplate if you’ll ever find a book that can make you feel like the one you just finished reading — that’s not just me, right?

All jokes aside, that’s why I’m kicking of #TropeTuesday with one of my favourite tropes — fake relationships! Of course I’m totally #TeamPeter and of course I’m still a little bitter that my high school experience ended up being the furthest thing from TATBILB, but it’s time we put the spotlight on some books featuring fake relationships. I hope you like my recommendations as much as I do.

1. The Wrong Prom Date by Alexandra Moody

Hayley Lawson had no chance of getting a date to prom. Thanks to a rumor gone wrong, the boys at school were all convinced she was only interested in dating college guys. She certainly wasn’t holding her breath waiting for someone to ask her to the big dance.

But, when her long-time crush returns to town, Hayley’s hopes of landing her dream date suddenly reignite. Owen Beck was everything she ever wanted in a guy, but after years of waiting, she couldn’t rely on fate alone to bring them together. If she wanted to go to prom with him, she was going to have to put her heart on the line and ask him herself. Her promposal doesn’t exactly go to plan though, and when Owen’s twin swoops in to ‘save’ her, she ends up in the arms of the wrong brother.

She might still have a chance with Owen though. Ethan knows his brother better than anyone, and he seems to think a bit of good old fashioned jealousy might just get Owen to ask Hayley to the prom himself.

A few weeks faking a relationship shouldn’t be too hard. After all, Ethan is nothing compared to Owen. Right?

The Wrong Prom Date is the third book in a series, but it can be read as a stand alone. It has everything you could want in a book; a boy in a band that makes your heart flutter every time he’s on the page, tension between brothers over the same girl and the supposedly shallow cheerleader being so much more than what people expect of her. I loved this book, it was fluffy and I devoured it within a few hours.

2. Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Royals is one of those books where reading it will put a permanent smile on your face. It’s young and fun and has the kind of innocent romance that will leave your heart in a puddle on the floor. In Royals, Daisy ends up being forced to fake date Miles, the best friend of her soon to be brother-in-law, after suspicion is drawn upon her relationship with Prince Sebastian. One thing I found interesting about this was that the relationship wasn’t with the royal and that felt like a fun twist on ‘famous-person-dates-normal-girl-to-fix-their-reputation.’

3. When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

Even if Royals was a fun twist ‘famous-person-dates-normal-girl-to-fix-their-reputation,’ a part of me really enjoys that cliché because it allows me to live out my dreams as Y/N dating Harry Styles circa 2012. I’m kidding . . . ish. Point being, When It’s Real does that cliché justice. Whilst it’s nothing groundbreaking, there are some surprises and the transition from a fake relationship to a real one is not necessarily easy for Oakley and Vaughn.

4. The Stand-In Boyfriend by Emma Doherty

Livy Chapman is in love with Jessie Stephenson. It’s that simple. She has been for years but he only see’s her as his best friend. His best friend who copies her homework, relies on her to bail him out of trouble and who he hooks up with other girls in front of.
Enough is enough and when Chase Mitchell, star of the soccer team, and all round Mr. Popular steps in and convinces her that they can do each other a favour by pretending to date, Livy is just crazy enough over Jessie to agree to it.

I mean, Chase is just her stand-in boyfriend. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

The Stand-In Boyfriend has another trope I’m a total sucker for: a love triangle. That aside, this was such a pleasant book and I think the reason for Chase being her fake boyfriend was the sweetest. Livy isn’t always the most likeable, but her flippant nature feels very in line with the kind of mistakes a teenager would make when presented with someone she loved for a long time finally noticing her in the way she wants.

5. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen

Taylor Simmons is screwed.

Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.

Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame offers what I’d like to think is a believable reason to fake date someone, although I wonder if that is actually a thing that happens outside the world of celebrities. Taylor’s reputation is ruined and her reaction to it is a valuable insight into the culture around female sexuality. This book is a subtle social commentary, but is moreover a feel good read with a lot of teen stereotypes.

6. Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen

Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought

Fake It Till You Break It is another fake dating book by Nguyen with a realistic portrayal of teens. There’s nothing complex about this book or its characters, but the sarcasm and biting humour is so eye-roll worthy because it’s painfully accurate in terms of teen behaviour. As for the relationship between Jake and Mia, the reason they hated each other felt like a non-reason and things moved a little too fast for me, but reading this is the equivalent of eating too much cotton candy — is there such a thing as eating too much cotton candy?

7. The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone. 

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse. 

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

The Upside of Falling is a light read that has a fake relationship filled with arcade dates, cupcakes and parties. I think you need to suspend some of your belief because I don’t think any high school boy would kiss a random girl to help her prove a point — especially one that is on the geekier side. Ignoring that, there is an attempt at some depth with the characters and Light tries to create real problems in their relationship, yet it doesn’t quite work and I can’t help feeling like this book needed to be longer for it to pack the desired punch. The Upside of Falling doesn’t rip your heart out at any point, but it might just give you butterflies.

8. Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

Just Friends is one of the anomalies on this list because instead of fake dating, these characters fake being friends and continue the lie. When I read this, it was the first time I saw the trope being spun that way and maybe I’m bending the rules a little by including it. Both Jenny and Chance bounce off each other and their quick dialogue is one of the highlights. It’s a little on the cringe and cliché side, but I feel that is every high school relationship ever, so it can be excused.

9. The Risk by Elle Kennedy

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take

The Risk is an NA contemporary and my issue is a lot of the time NA is hit or miss to me, sometimes it feels like the focus is too heavy on romance and sex as opposed to developing the characters. This wasn’t like that. Like with most NAs, sex is an aspect of it, but the chemistry between Jake and Brenna is clear from the start, it feels like they go on a real journey from rivals to lovers. The two of them have such an easy banter and you instantly want them to get together. I also really appreciated how this book touched on misogyny within the sporting industry.

10. Addicted to You by Krista & Becca Ritchie

She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other. 

One thing I really love about Addicted to You is that Loren and Lily are already friends and that makes the transition from a fake relationship to a real one all the more complicated. This is another NA, so beware of that content wise because it has a heavy focus on drinking and sex. A part of me really liked how unique this relationship, I’ve never seen fake dating being used to hide such serious problems — a lot of the books on the list are fluff, so seeing something with a little more angst and realism is refreshing.

So, that wraps up my first ever #TropeTuesday. Let me know in the replies your favourite fake dating book and what trope I should do next week!

read it and weep,

2 replies on “#TropeTuesday: Books with Fake Relationships (That Aren’t To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before)”

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