Fake Dating | the other best romance trope

Bri Castellini
3 min readFeb 8, 2023

I love this trope so much I’ve already planned and written a part 2, coming soon!

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Luck of the Draw by Kate Clayborn. The second in the first romance trilogy I read this year (I’ll be recommending book one in an upcoming newsletter), this enemies-to-lovers fake dating combo trope extraordinaire is, as the podcast Fated Mates puts it, one of the best examples of this kind of narrative. Zoe Ferris won the lottery with her two best friends recently, which allowed her to quit her soulless law gig and start to make amends for her ice queen ways (like a self-imposed AA 12 Steps kinda thing), and she starts with Aiden O’Leary, whose family her former firm was on the other side of during his brother’s wrongful death suit. Aiden doesn’t want her money or her apology, but he does need a fake fiance for his own amends-making plan. This book will kick you where it hurts before kissing it all better, but as long-time readers of this newsletter know, I love pain. And kissing it all better. Mostly pain, though.

Rating: 4.5/5

How hot? 🔥🔥🔥🔥

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. A science grad student enters into a fake dating arrangement with everyone’s least favorite professor in an adjacent department to ensure her friend doesn’t feel awkward about dating her ex. We’ve got Women in STEM/academia, tough love, communication differences, sunshine/grump, and, most excitedly: both characters are asexual (demisexual, if we’re splitting hairs) as canonically as can be possible without saying “asexual” aloud, which was super exciting to me, an asexual romance-lover! Adam’s ace-ness is more confirmed in the bonus chapter (which should be available in the new eBook version, future print versions, and through the author’s newsletter).

Rating: 5/5

How hot? 🔥🔥🔥

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa. I rated this book 5/5 before I even finished reading, that’s how much I loved it. After Solange crashes Dean’s wedding and convinces his fiance to leave him at the alter, which he’s weirdly chill about, she agrees to be his fake girlfriend to help him land a promotion at work (it makes sense in context) as part of her (largely unnecessary) penance. He gives her a DEAN DOSSIER of fun facts to study up on (swoon: love me an extremely repressed and extremely organized boy) early on, which cemented my adoration instantly. Solange’s family (one of whom is the subject of the first book in this series, which is still on hold at the time of writing this book review so I can’t say if it’s just as good or not*) is incredible and so funny. At its heart, this book is about inherited romantic trauma from our parents’ relationships and two people who need to decide what’s more important: complacency and practicality or the leap of faith that is falling in love.

Rating: 5/5

How hot? 🔥🔥🔥🔥

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

*update from the future: I’ve read it, and it’s pretty good! I prefer the pacing and characters of The Wedding Crasher, though.

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Bri Castellini

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