Faking It, by Christine d’Abo
Series: Ringside Romance, Book 2
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 8, 2017
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Max Tremblay should be happy. His night club, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.
Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancé for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.
When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.
Faking It was a light follow-up to the first book in the Ringside Romance series, Working It. While I confess that the fake relationship trope (or fake engagement, as in this case) is not a favorite of mine, there were still plenty of things I enjoyed about Max and Grady’s whirlwind romance.
First off, I liked their easy attraction. From the very first spark and all throughout, they had great chemistry and barring some early pushback from Max, pretty much went along with it. At the same time, I like that their attraction felt natural and steady, and not a rash case of insta-love/lust that threatened to overwhelm or blind them to the reality of their fake relationship. In other words, they kept their heads while still getting head.
Not only were they hot together, they were also a great team. Obviously pulling off a fake engagement isn’t easy but they were very open and honest with each other at all times – not just in terms of corroborating stories or communicating their strategy, but also in picking up unspoken cues or knowing when the other was in over their heads. Max in particular was really adept at reading Grady and knew when to swoop in to rescue him when needed (ie. a lot). But I think most importantly, especially for this particular trope, I really appreciated them being on the same page because it ultimately kept the drama to a minimum and helped sell me on their long-term compatibility.
Both our heroes had a lot of paternal issues that they needed to work through. Grady’s relationship with his dad was especially toxic and I felt that the way it was glossed over was a bit of a copout. I’m not sure why the author decided to stay away from the heavy stuff – for instance, the first book had no problems tackling PTSD and anxiety and did a commendable job – but I definitely would’ve preferred to have seen more of these issues tackled on page, rather than alluded to. It just makes for a more convincing and realistic story when your heroes have very real issues to address as they work towards their happiness.
Speaking of keeping things realistic, I thought it was funny that no one asked the happy couple how they met or how long they’ve known each other. In my experience, these are the first questions people tend to ask, especially when a new couple (nevermind a newly engaged couple) first meet family or close friends. In addition, there should have been plenty of awkward (or hilarious) non-stop inquiries into who proposed and how, the engagement ring if any, and when’s the big day – all of which was missing in the family interactions, which struck me as odd.
I felt that our heroes still had a ways to go especially with all the major changes Grady was making in his life, so I would call the ending a hopeful or optimistic HFN. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys their fake relationship romance light, non-farcical and relatively drama-free.
A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.