If I got a Spotify Wrapped style analysis of the 2023 reading my number ONE most-read trope would be fake dating. Whether the setup is to get back at an ex, for PR reasons, for a family Christmas or simply to entice a crush it ALWAYS hits.
Grab your popcorn, settle into your comfiest chair, and join us as we embark on a journey through the most fun and intriguing examples of the fake dating trope that have graced our pages. So buckle up and get ready to explore the ins and outs of faking it until you make it, because love, they say, is just a pretend away.
The Boyfriend Candidate by Ashley Winstead
A laugh-out-loud romcom about learning to embrace living outside your comfort zone for fans of Ali Hazelwood.
As a shy school librarian, Alexis Stone is comfortable keeping out of the spotlight. But when she’s dumped for being too meek — in bed! — the humiliation is a wake-up call. She decides she needs to change, and what better way to kick-start her new more adventurous life than with her first one-night stand?
Enter Logan, the gorgeous, foul-mouthed stranger she meets at a hotel bar. Logan is audacious and filter-less, making him Alexis’s opposite—and boy do opposites attract! Just as she’s about to fulfill her hookup wish, the hotel catches fire in a freak lightning storm — and in their rush to escape, Logan is discovered carrying her into the street, where people are waiting with cameras. Cameras Logan promptly — and shockingly — flees.
Alexis is bewildered until breaking news hits: pictures of her and Logan escaping the fire are all over the internet. It turns out Logan is none other than Logan Arthur, the hotshot politician challenging the Texas Governor’s seat. The salacious images are poised to sink his career — and jeopardise Alexis’s job — until a solution is proposed: to squash the scandal, he and Alexis could pretend to be in a relationship until election day…in two months. What could possibly go wrong?
After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.
Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle’s new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date Because… awkward.
Darcy begs Elle to play along and she agrees to pretend they’re dating. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family during the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a faux relationship. But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars
The Fake Engagement Favour by Charlene Sands
Can a country music superstar save his career by pretending to be in love?
Rocked by scandal, country crooner Gage Tremaine’s career is over if he doesn’t clean up his act. An engagement to straitlaced Gianna Marino could do the PR trick.
Even though Gage and Gianna had a fractious relationship growing up, their families go way back, so Gianna agrees. She’s not his type, so Gage considers her a safe choice.
That’s his first mistake. Because when the bookish professor undergoes a makeover, all bets are off!
Petunia De Vere enjoys being the personal assistant to lovable, bumbling Johnny Marchmont. But the job has its share of challenges, including the royal’s giant, intimidating bodyguard, Matthias. Pet and Matthias are polar opposites—she’s spontaneous and enthusiastic, he’s rigid and stoic—but she can sense there’s something softer underneath that tough exterior…
For Matthias Vaughn, protecting others is the name of the game. But keeping his royal charge out of trouble is more difficult than he imagined because everywhere Johnny goes, calamity ensues, and his petite, bubbly assistant is often caught in the fray. Matthias hates the idea of Pet getting hurt and he’s determined to keep everyone safe, even if it means clashing with his adorable new coworker.
When a clumsy moment leads to a questionable tabloid photo, the press begins to speculate that Pet is romantically involved with Johnny. To put an end to the rumors, the royal PR team asks Pet and Matthias to stage a fake relationship and the two reluctantly agree. But as they spend more time together outside of work, they begin to wonder what real emotions this pretend connection might uncover. Especially when a passionate kiss leaves both of their heads spinning…
She thought she could be his pretend girlfriend without catching feelings…until he starts feeling things too.
A pretend romance should be easy — if they can get their feelings to cooperate.
Chloe Han is thrilled that celebrated violinist Anthony Larsen — Chloe’s longtime crush — will play with the Hana Trio during her sister’s leave. But when a past romantic entanglement threatens Anthony’s image, he asks Chloe to pretend to be his girlfriend, to save his reputation.
Believing Anthony’s still in love with his wife, Chloe agrees. Between their age difference and her brother-in-law’s over-protectiveness, falling for each other is off-limits. But the irresistible desire between them is a challenge neither anticipated…
Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.
Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.
Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.
After losing her job and her fiancé in one fell swoop, Natalie Vos returned home to lick her wounds. A few months later, she’s sufficiently drowned her sorrows in cabernet and she’s ready to get back on her feet. She just needs her trust fund to finance her new business venture. Unfortunately, the terms require she marry before she can have the money. And well, dumped, remember
But Natalie is desperate enough to propose to a man who makes her want to kill him—and kiss him, in equal measure.
August Cates may own a vineyard, but he doesn’t know jack about making wine. He’s determined to do his late best friend proud, no matter what it takes. Except his tasting room is empty, his wine is disgusting (seriously, he once saw someone gag), and his buddy’s legacy is circling the drain. No bank will give him the loan he needs to turn the business around… and then the gorgeous, feisty heiress knocks on his door.
Natalie has haunted August’s dreams since the moment they met, but their sizzling chemistry immediately morphed into simmering insults. Now, a quickie marriage could help them both. A sham wedding, a few weeks living under the same roof, and then they can go their separate ways—assuming they make it out alive. How hard could it be
There’s just one thing they didn’t account for: their unfortunate, unbearable, undeniable attraction.
Will ‘faking it’ lead to making it?
Fake Engagement – Ally Blake
Her first crush…is now her fake fiancé!
When Petra bumps into billionaire Sawyer, it’s thrilling to see him again. As photos of him mock-proposing surface, they decide to go with the misconception. An ‘engagement’ could be beneficial to them both, and him staying in her apartment makes it even more believable! But living with her late brother’s best friend means confronting their past…and a sizzling spark that is far too real…
Island Temptation – Rachael Stewart
A summer fling…or something more?
Jessie Rose is shocked by the instant chemistry she feels when she meets billionaire Joel in Mustique. She’s come looking for an escape, and brooding Joel is very clear he’s not looking for anything permanent. But letting their guards down while exploring the island together, they can’t deny their fling is dangerously close to being a temptation they may not be able to walk away from…
It started with one simple request: ‘Pretend to like me for three days.’
Cancelling her own million-dollar wedding made socialite Alexandra Gold infamous. Now the only way to avoid going alone to the wedding of this season — and keep vicious gossip account Little Black Book of Secrets quiet — is to bring a fake date.
The almost-perfect candidate: architect Ryder Carson, her brother’s best friend. Ryder’s off limits, yet tempting, despite their recent history. And as the celebration heats up, so do the sparks. But is it only a matter of time before Little Black Book reveals their secret?
Kareena dreams of having a perfect love story like her parents did. That’s why on the morning of her thirtieth birthday, she’s decided to suit up and enter the dating arena. When her widowed father announces he’s retiring and selling their home after her sister’s engagement party, Kareena makes a deal with him. If she can find her soulmate by the date of the party, he’ll gift her the house, and she’ll be able to keep her mother’s legacy alive.
Hi, I’m Dr. Prem Verma, host of the Dr. Dil Show. Prem means love, Dil means heart, and I’m a cardiologist. Don’t let my name fool you. I only fix broken hearts in the literal sense.
Prem doesn’t have time for romance, which is why it’s no surprise when his first meeting with Kareena goes awry. Their second encounter is worse when their on-air debate about love goes viral. Now Prem’s largest community center donor is backing out because Prem’s reputation as a heart-health expert is at risk. To get back in his donor’s good graces, he needs to fix his image fast, and dating Kareena is his only option.
Even though they have warring interests, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he thinks she’s might actually be the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. In this Taming of the Shrew re-imagination, for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.