Fake Dating 2: Happy Valentines Day!

Bri Castellini
4 min readFeb 14, 2023

My capacity to consume fake dating love stories is limitless, here’s a new batch!

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. Olive has always been unlucky. When her identical twin sister Ami wins contests for free honeymoons, Olive can’t seem to hold down a boyfriend, and, worst of all, now has to deal with Ethan, her new brother-in-law, who’s the biggest jackass on the planet. But when Ami and her new husband and the rest of their big wedding get horrific food poisoning and only Olive and Ethan are spared, the all-expenses-paid free honeymoon is suddenly available. All these two sworn enemies have to do is pretend to be their siblings, and in love, to enjoy their free vacation.

When Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex fiance happen to also be vacationing at the same Hawaiian resort, the stakes and the hijinks get wilder, especially as Ethan and Olive discover they may have buried their real feelings of affection under layers of sarcasm and insults these past few years.

Rating: 4.5/5

How hot? 🔥🔥

The Dating Plan by Sarah Desai. Daisy, a South Asian software engineer, gets fake engaged to her childhood crush turned painful memory Liam, an Irish-American VC, to get her overbearing family off her back and, once he agrees to continue the farce, to help him inherit his family business. We’ve got two massive, very different yet aligned in being WAY too involved in each others’ lives families, the best friend’s little sister plus childhood crush turned adulthood love tropes, a hero named Liam I mean come ON, and plenty of reasons to swoon for these overdramatic sweet dummies.

TW: Daisy works for a tech start up (IYKYK)

Rating: 4.5/5

How hot? 🔥🔥🔥

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Girl (Catalina Martín) needs a date to a big family wedding because her big family is big on interfering and is concerned about her love life. Enter: boy (Aaron Blackford) who she absolutely cannot stand and who is also the only person willing or able to go along with the farce, for reasons he’s keeping to himself. Things get even more complicated as Lina’s battling an increasing wave of sexist microaggressions around the office, Lina’s much older ex (and lowkey the reason she left Spain, her home country, in the first place) will be in attendance at the wedding (and also the best man, because of course he is), and their breakup has left Lina skittish around relationships with unequal power dynamic. So when Aaron is promoted to her boss just before they leave for the wedding while she’s also discovering he might not be the worst guy in the world… yeah. Things get complicated.

I’ve enjoyed both Elena Armas’ books (the sequel to TSLD just came out and is also adorable), though I do think she tends to overwrite her intros, and some of the spiraling of her POV heroines. Like, at a certain point, we’re just delaying moving forward in the narrative for the sake of redundant characterization. We get it, these girls are sassy and sarcastic and disbelieving of their own bad luck! Once you get past the first chapter or two, though, it’s smooth, sexy sailing.

Ok listen. Both The Unhoneymooners and this book fall into what I call “the coward’s enemies to lovers origin story.” Put differently, the love interests being enemies is a result of one moment of miscommunication early on and is eventually overcome when they re-examine their meet cute once they find other common ground. I think this book, as well as Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, manage to find a middle ground I prefer, though, where even though it starts as a miscommunication, the side that fucked up knows they fucked up, and because they’re repressed and tormented they decide to lean into the hostility because at least the pretty girl is paying attention to them. In The Unhoneymooners, Ethan is completely bewildered by Olive’s behavior (she thinks he thinks something he doesn’t, which is then doubled down on by a third party with a vested interest in their continued hostilities). In The Spanish Love Deception (and, by extension, The Hating Game), Aaron knows what he did. The little scamp.

Rating: 4.5/5

How hot? 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Subscribe to my romance newsletter, Forced Proximity, that will deliver you 3 new romance recommendations every Friday afternoon!

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Bri Castellini

Freelance indie film and crowdfunding consultant. Writer of mystery TV and romance novels. Human bulldozer. www.BriCastellini.com