Editor's Note - This post is from Margrethe, but we're planning to make some more of these posts in the future. For now, you can check out the posts Suzanne wrote for RomBkLove on Road Trip Romances and Neighbors!
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If you had told me back when I started reading romance (all of five years ago) that one of my favorite tropes was going to be the fake relationship, I would have grimaced and refused to speak to you for weeks. And it isn’t that I was opposed to the trope, but back in ye olde 2014, I had only seen marginal romantic comedies do this (including a movie many people love and that I hate).
However, I am a person who enjoys being wrong about this sort of thing. Why fake relationships? God knows, but also there are good reasons:
- Forced proximity where they have to be nice to each other
- Usually they are working together for a thing, so the shared goal brings them together (unless someone is being made jealous, but I don’t know that I’ve liked any of these)
- A shared secret that leaves them vulnerable
- By being nice to each other in public, they see what’s great about each other and extend that to private settings too (people being nice to each other is 100% my thing)
And so, here are some of my more recent favorite fake relationship romances:
This book shouldn’t work because the divide between the characters is so vast; but Clayborn leans into the rawness and realness of the character’s feelings and guilt, and she created magic.
Buy a copy from Amazon here. (Also on Hoopla!)
I just...I have many feelings about Nya and Johan. She is recovering from abuse and a related illness, he’s living outrageously to distract the press from his vulnerable sibling. They move from being an unlikely pair to being perfect complements of each other.
A story about two messy people with their own insecurities and problems who manage to find a way through that by being together, but also they aren’t fixed and perfect in the end. Ursula and Jay remain messes, but are better with each other’s support.
Mr. Grumpy has to hang out with Ms. Sunshine in order to repair his image because she makes people like him. And honestly, this book is perfect. It’s one of the few that I reread (or relisten to). Also, the scene where Richard takes care of a sick Lainie is perfect proof that my favorite scenes are where people literally take care of their ill love interests (clean up snotty tissues, hold hair while there’s vomiting, clean up the home while the love interest is unwell).
Pick up a copy of Act Like It on Amazon. (EBook is on Hoopla.)
Here we have a fake relationship mocked up by the heroine to repair the reputation of the hero. She ruined his reputation, he has a big secret, and they’ve been pining for each other for years. When I read this, the book ravaged me and there’s an audiobook now, so I’ll probably reread in a few days to be ravaged again.
While this is a fake relationship, it’s also a closeted fake relationship, which really changes the dynamic. That’s probably why I think about this book a lot. A select group of people are meant to believe that they are a couple, but the outside world isn’t meant to know, which almost heightens everything between them. It’s for show, but an intimate show that expects the small things that show you care, and Elizabeth and Summer do their best not to realize that the relationship they want is the one they have.
Because I am a sucker, what are your favorite fake relationship romances?
[Editor's Note: Margrethe submitted this before she finished reading Ruby Lang's Playing House, but her review recommending that one is right over here.]
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