Trope Talk: Fake Dating

Fake relationships is one of my absolute favorite tropes. I love the part where they have to fake affection for the outside world and then they’re like, “WAIT, BUT WHAT IS REAL?” It’s one of my favorite conflicts and also just I love it the most always. I’m splitting my fake relationship recommendation posts into multiple posts, so this one I’m going to be focusing on fake dating. We gotta start small, you know?

1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

This YA romance is adorable, but tbh, the movie might be better than the book. If you haven’t heard of TAtBILB, Lara Jean’s letters that she writes to boys she has a crush on get mailed out to them. One of those letters goes to Peter K, one of the most popular boys in school and also the on again off again boyfriend of Lara Jean’s former friend turned enemy. Peter K seizes the opportunity to fake date Lara Jean for reasons and Lara Jean is like, PERFECT, because another of those letters was sent to her sister’s boyfriend. Quel scandale. I loved this when I read it a few years ago and I absolutely adore the movie on Netflix.

2. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I’ve said before that this book doesn’t work as well for me as it seems to for literally everyone else, but I still want to recommend it here (in part because it DOES work for what feels like everyone else). The Kiss Quotient is more of a fake dating because Stella wants to learn how to be in a relationship than it is about fake dating for status or jealousy or whatever the other reasons offered are. Stella hires Michael, an escort, because she thinks she’s bad at sex. Eventually this turns into hiring Michael so he can be her boyfriend, for practice, you know? But they, obviously fall in love. This book has absolutely incredible representation, especially of the Autism representation and Michael is Vietnamese American and I’m really excited to get his sister’s books. Hopefully the book will work great for you!

3. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

I love The Wedding Date. It has the fake dating trope in a short way, in that after being trapped in the elevator together, Drew asks Alexa if she’ll be his date to his friend’s wedding to his ex-girlfriend. Alexa takes pity on him because she’s a sweet badass and so she pretends to be his girlfriend for the wedding festivities. They don’t continue fake dating, but they do turn it into a, “Hm, let’s try actually dating” thing after clicking so well during the festivities. I really adore this book and I liked the way Guillory approached this trope.

4. Act Like It by Lucy Parker

Here we have a traditional fake dating adult romance, wherein Richard Troy desperately needs to rehab his image and what better way to do that then to rope in Elaine Graham, his cast mate, to help him out. By fake dating him. The two really don’t like each other at the beginning of this book, which gives you enough hate to love vibes that it escalates this book even further up the list of books you’ve gotta love. Actually, as I’m typing this, I can’t help but think I need to re-read this one and actually continue on with the rest of the series! I may have to do that soon. There is one scene that could be triggering for readers where there is an attempted assault, so I do want to flag that for you! A great book featuring such a great trope!

5. Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

So, Red, White, & Royal Blue is not a traditional fake dating book because fake dating between the First Son of the President of the United States and the Prince of Wales would be frowned upon. Instead, Alex (FSOTUS) and Henry (Prince) are forced to fake a friendship after causing an international scandal at the Royal Wedding. The reason I wanted to include it here though is because this fake friendship operates in the same way that fake dating operates as a trope and also because I adored this book. The first half of this book had me laughing CONSTANTLY. There’s a lot going on in the latter half that’s less cute (but still amazing), including a plot point that could be triggering where Alex and Henry are outted without permission. This book is an AU wherein after President Obama, we got lucky enough as a nation to be blessed with our first female president who is now running for re-election. I absolutely recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun twist on fake dating.

What are some of your favorite fake dating books? Do you like the trope? Let me know!


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