Faking It? Discover What's Real in These Historical Fake Relationship Romances

Keeping it real with fake relationships but never fake love, eventually...

The fake relationship trope in historical romance books always brings some laughs and often some ridiculous predicaments! Whether it’s a man and woman who need lodgings at a roadside inn, a rake who needs to look like a devoted family man, a woman trying to get out of marrying a dirtbag, these books always bring some laughs. And, eventually, true love!

Here are some of our favorite fake relationship historical romances–enjoy!

For more reviews, please check out our Reviews page. 

Two opposites trapped in a storm must pretend to be husband and wife

Lady Daphne Worth is NOT living the aristocratic life, that’s for sure. Her fiancé dumps her. Daphne’s lazy father (an earl) squandered all their money and sent her out to work as a companion rather than lift a finger himself. Then, when her skeezy employer tries to take advantage of her, she flees out the window and right into Lorcan St. Leger.

Lorcan came from nothing, and pulled himself out of the scariest London neighborhoods to gain respect as a businessman and on the streets as someone you don’t mess with. He immediately feels some kind of responsibility for Daphne (and attraction too) when he sees her desperation, and sticks with her after she escapes.

With a storm coming, they need a place to go and find a lovely boardinghouse. Of course, old acquaintances run it, and Daphne and Lorcan pretend to be husband and wife to book the last suite of rooms. Initially, Daphne’s a little scared of Lorcan and doesn’t see him as husband material. She’s desperate for security and is considering an offer from a creepy old lecherous earl—ick. But their fake relationship stunt and crazy storm force them into close proximity, and heat flares…

How to Tame a Wild Rogue brings out the best in both characters. Daphne needs to learn to stand up to her father and call him out, which Lorcan helps her do. Lorcan softens a bit and gets more protective and loving as the book goes on. Without giving it away, the end is absolutely heart-melting and sweet, with a fun side of karma!

Rating: 4.5
Steam: Low to Medium
Themes and Tropes: Fake Relationship, Opposites Attract, Close Proximity, Only One Room
Pair With: Champagne

Near-spinster Verity has had it with her horrible snob of a neighbor (whom she aptly calls “the Tick”). The Tick lives for insulting and undermining Verity at every turn. When she pushes Verity’s last button, Verity snaps and fibs that she’s betrothed to Magnus, the Duke of Longhurst, who happens to despise her family. And who also happens to be courting an heiress (whose dad is none to pleased to hear a rumor that Magnus is already betrothed).

Of course, when Magnus shows up to correct the falsehood, all hell breaks loose, the village is aflutter, and nothing is as simple as he thought.

It Had to Be a Duke was entertaining and fun, if a little absurd. This is a book purely to read for fun—there’s not much depth and not much character development. Verity is good-natured and kind, but also ridiculous and not the wisest decisionmaker. I loved her at times and cringed for her/rolled my eyes at her at times. Magnus is rude, self-righteous, and judgey, and just awful to Verity (I understand to a certain point—I’d be a little vexed if a family enemy claimed to be my fiancé—but blechh, he’s a jerk). Luckily, he improves. Eventually.

Verity and Magnus’ relationship stays as-is for way too long—they hate each other, keep hating each other, get weird feelings here and there, and continue acting the same. It gets better when they slowly start realizing their attraction, and more, but they know nothing can come of it.

Ok, some complaining out of the way, so what were the high points, in addition to the general fun? There’s a good side plot and a mystery about the reason the families became enemies in the first place, and all is not what it seems (there has to be a way to tie up all the loose ends and pave the way for the HEA, right?). Karma finds the tick (sort of). Verity’s family is funny and loving; Magnus’ grandmother is formidable but understanding and lovely, and sees what’s between them.

Overall—fun, glad I read it, would recommend for a light read. Also, thumbs up for the audiobook narrator, Faye Adele. She was easy to listen to and did a nice job changing up her voice for the different characters.

Rating: 3.5
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Fake Betrothal, Mystery Subplot, Grumpy/Sunshine
Pair With: Wines enjoyed in the Regency period.

Miss Evelyn “Evie” Graves is the best personal secretary in the ton; she’s organized and efficient, and also kind and thoughtful. When her employer, wealthy Lady Waverly, double-books herself, she sends Evie to Ireland in her stead to pull off a charity event.

Alex, Duke of Rennick, must marry quickly (and preferably a wealthy heiress) to save his beloved Ballymore Castle from going to his most hated uncle and to get the dukedom out of debt. His family hones in on Lady Waverly, believing that she’s coming for the charity event, and at first mistakes Evie for the countess.

There’s instant chemistry between Evie and Alex, but they know nothing could ever work between them in the real world.

This book was super cute and had superb characters. I love how smart and competent Evie is—she comes right into Ballymore and knows exactly how to handle the charity event and how to raise more money. Sadly, she doesn’t dare to dream of bigger things like publishing her stories, and sticks glumly to practicality, while also showing her sweet and unselfish sides.

Alex also cares deeply for his family and is ready to sacrifice his own wishes for their benefit—his sister married for love and never looked back. He yearns to do the same but can’t shake the feeling of duty to the dukedom and the rest of the family. Of course, this tension sticks for a while or there’d be no story; gradually Evie and Alex admit their feelings for each other, but also must admit the obstacles are tremendous and potentially insurmountable.

Rating: 4
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Class Difference, Proximity, Instant Attraction, Fake Relationship
Pair With: Irish Drinks

Extreme introvert Maddie can’t take another minute of being expected to socialize in society, and will do anything to be allowed to take refuge in her family’s remote Scottish castle. So she invents a fake suitor, Captain Logan MacKenzie, who is supposedly away at war. Maddie even sends real letters to this imaginary man, and tells her family he died in the war and she was heartbroken.

Only there’s a real, live Captain Logan MacKenzie who received those letters and shows up at the castle, ready to marry Maddie with his own motives to gain control of the land. He threatens to expose her lies and also promises to help her get the job she wants if she agrees to marry him.

I loved so much about this book—the premise was hilarious and unique. A completely imaginary lover turned real? Imagine Maddie’s (and her family’s) surprise when her true love, believed dead, shows up to marry her. Here she is, going about her quiet life and happy to be away from society, when everything explodes.

There are some parts that dragged and got annoying, and way too much time was spent on feelings going around in circles, Maddie not wanting the marriage to be consummated, and disagreements among characters. But overall, a fun take on the marriage of convenience and an entertaining read.

Rating: 3.5
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Fake Relationship, Scholarly Heroine, Opposites Attract, Extreme Shyness
Pair With: When in Scotland, try some Scotch

Myrtle Allen is completely stuck—all she wants to do is use her impressive math skills in the real world. And all she wants avoid is getting married and losing any chance of independence. But her brother won’t release her fortune until she marries someone suitable. She has enough of her own to get started, but must find an escape to London.

Simeon Jones arrives at the Allen family home to paint portraits, but Myrtle’s brother runs him off after an incident (completely NOT Simeon’s fault). Perfect timing for Myrtle, who convinces him to take her with him to London for some cash. Simeon needs the money to care for a ward he just inherited and accepts her offer against his better judgment. He’s also sworn never to marry—his art comes first, always. And so the fun begins…

Turns out Myrtle’s niece needs a chaperone for the Season. And Myrtle’s the sole option. Only Myrtle’s a societal disaster and will undoubtedly ruin the debut with her bluntness and honesty. So what better solution than pretend to be engaged to Simeon, who’s an absolute charmer and can steer conversations in the right direction? Never mind that Myrtle’s brother would never actually let her marry an illegitimate son (but it’s ok to pretend to be engaged to one for appearances?).

The more time they spend together, the hotter it gets and the harder they fall. Though neither will ever admit it. FOREVER. Myrtle and Simeon each agonize for many, many chapters about how they’re falling for the other but they’ll never be together because of his art and illegitimacy, and because of her independence. It’s beyond repetitive and drove me insane. Over and over, even the exact same language is often repeated.

Her Adventures in Temptation would have been a great novella. There just wasn’t enough plot to sustain an entire novel, and a shorter read could’ve omitted all the unnecessary repetition. Still, a fun read and overall 3-star rating.

Rating: 3
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Fake Relationship, Forbidden Love, Miscommunication
Pair With: Red Blends
 
 

Tossed out on the streets with no money and nowhere to go after refusing to become a dirtbag’s mistress, ballerina Genevieve (“Neve”) has no idea what she’ll do. Along comes Lysander, Duke of Montcroix, shrewd businessman but apparently poor with directions. He’s lost and runs into some menacing street thugs.

The two escape, and Lysander makes Neve an offer she can’t refuse: pretend to be his fiancé so he can look like a family man to secure a huge business deal and he’ll give her enough money to start over.

At their cores, Neve and Lysander are genuinely good people. Neve’s loyalty and loving nature shine through with her devotion to her sister; her integrity and sense of self show up in her refusal to become a mistress in exchange for a job and security. Lysander is a businessman first, driven by his father’s attempts to sabotage him and calling him weak, etc. We see throughout the book what a devastating effect his father had on his life, from always criticizing him to sabotaging him to even stealing his fiancée. Lysander shuts down and spends his life trying to make as much money as he can and proving his father wrong.

Until Neve enters his world. As they spend time together, they realize their attraction and more. But Lysander keeps trying to push her away, reminded by his father’s warnings that it is weak to love anyone. With Neve around, he begins playing music again (which his father wouldn’t allow and which he loved playing with his mother) and even making jokes, which he had not done in years (nickname Stone). The friendship among Neve and three other ladies is a lot of fun. These ladies don’t care about propriety and like to have fun together, are loyal friends, and care about one another.

One issue: Lysander is supposed to be this savvy businessman, but is completely oblivious to what a slimeball his business partner, Treadway, is. It couldn’t have been more obvious that the guy is a snake—there are financial discrepancies and other issues, and Neve has to give him the idea to question Treadway and his employees. What businessperson would not figure it out?

A few other minor annoyances, but really, Always Be My Duchess is a great book with plenty of steam and a very sweet ending.

Rating: 4
Steam: Medium to High
Themes and Tropes: Fake Relationship, Class Difference, Secret Identity, Dysfunctional Family
Pair With: Sainte-Croix-du-Mont wine (Bordeaux). It’s close to Montcroix, right?