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

Keeping it real with Vegas weddings, green cards, politics, drag queens and more....

The fake relationship trope always brings some laughs and often some ridiculous predicaments! She needs a meddling family member off her back. He needs a date for his ex’s wedding. She needs some arm candy for her image. Whatever it is, it’s usually fun and full of mischief! Anyway, here are some of our favorite fake relationship romances–enjoy!

For more reviews, please check out our Reviews page. 

Nothing Screams Fake Relationship Like Vegas, Right?

Romantic soul and wedding dress designer Emma crushes her Vegas fashion show on her birthday. She’s flying high until she sees her ex’s Instagram post that he’s engaged. So, logical next step? Drink too much champagne and head to a male revue, of course, and then down a few shots for good measure!

Griffin’s been his little sister’s guardian for twelve years and put her through college—and himself through law school—by performing in a male revue. Responsible and grumpy, Griffin never hooks up with anyone from his shows, but Emma instantly changes all that.

Not only do they wake up married, but drunk Emma’s wedding video post goes viral and the happy couple is booked for an interview in New York by the “Anna Wintour of wedding fashion.” Can they fake it? Is it even fake anymore?

LOVED Unexpectedly Mine. The feelings are so real, and they both try so hard to protect their hearts. Are they willing to take a chance? Emma and Griffin actually seem like real people, which is sometimes hard to find in romance books; they have flaws but genuinely care about each other and their families, and find a way to work things out.

Rating: 4.8
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Vegas Wedding, Fake Relationship/Marriage, Family/Sacrifice, Slow Burn, Only One Bed
Pair with: Champagne or sparkling wine (and maybe a lemon drop shot?). For Emma’s famcy family, there’s always the classic Dom Perignon. For more realistic, consider Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne ($20) or Richebel Brut Sparkling Champagne ($10 at Total Wine).

Briana Ortiz: smart and successful emergency room doctor, soon to be divorced from a nasty ex, has a beloved brother in kidney failure, and now hears the decision on who’s getting the big promotion is being delayed so the new guy can be considered too. What?

Jacob Maddox: kind and loving soul, suffers major social anxiety and comes off as aloof and difficult, and left his old job to get away from his nasty ex-girlfriend who, of course, is now engaged to his traitorous brother.

So these two are dealing with some stuff and get off on the wrong foot. It looks pretty bleak until Jacob writes the cutest letter to Briana and she realizes, just maybe, Jacob isn’t so bad. Jacob’s a perfect match to donate a kidney to Briana’s brother and decides to do it. Briana finds out Jacob has the skankiest ex and most disloyal brother ever and needs a fake girlfriend to get him through the engagement party and wedding. And she’s happy to take the role.

As the fake (and real) relationship grows, this is the point where Yours Truly drags a little bit and why I can’t give it a straight-up 5. Each character wants it to be real but thinks the other person doesn’t, and they refuse to see what’s right in front of them or to take a chance with their feelings. 

Briana and Jacob are both lovely humans, but I’m on Team Jacob. He is the most selfless, caring, lovely human being in just about any book I’ve read, so much so that maybe needs to grow a backbone and not let people walk all over him. If you’re looking for alpha caveman, this is not the guy for you. If you want an absolute sweetheart, grab this book ASAP.

Rating: 4.5
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Letters, enemies to friends to lovers, fake relationship, toxic exes
Pair with: a wine subscription? Who knew there’s a Yours Truly Wine?

A fun, hilarious, and wacky fake relationship and opposites attract novel

In Love Ad Lib, exuberant Libby is in a tough spot—flooded apartment, little money, and an improv business that isn’t paying the bills. Sweet but shy Henry, future Duke of Foxbrooke, needs his wild and eccentric family to get off his back about finding love. He’s heading home for his thirtieth birthday and needs a girlfriend . It sets up perfectly—Libby needs money, Henry needs a fake girlfriend, and hilarity ensues.

Of course since Love Ad Lib is a fake relationship trope, we know it’ll take a while to admit their feelings. And the story was adorable with a ton of hilarious scenes, especially with Henry’s family. I did get annoyed with the repetitive miscommunication circles: they each like the other more and more but can’t let go of insecurities over and over again. And, a few actual adult conversations would have been nice. But otherwise I loved the characters—opposites in their external personalities but both genuinely loving and thoughtful people.

Rating: 3.8 (would be higher without all the miscommunications)
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Opposites Attract, Fake Relationship, Miscommunication, Proximity, Only One Bed
Pair With: Eccentric wines

Faking it for their meddling, matchmaking grandparents might be the best decision they ever made

Matchmaking grandfathers want Kamilah and Liam to tie the knot so they can get what they want. And it will take convincing, given Kamilah and Liam’s mortal enemy status.

But they have the perfect ultimatum. Kamilah wants to make some changes and take on more responsibility for her family’s restaurant to keep it afloat. And Liam wants to continue building his family’s distillery that’s on the verge of making it big. The businesses share a building owned by the grandfathers, who tell them: get married or we’ll sell the building. So they say yes, but it’s fake relationship all the way…

A Proposal They Can’t Refuse is a quirky book with interesting characters and banter, funny family moments, and a cute plot. Kamilah is vibrant and passionate about her family and its legacy, the restaurant. She’s also a natural extrovert and people person—very different from Liam. He’s quiet and comes off as grumpy, but has a great business sense. So their personalities really complement each other, both for business and for each other personally.

As conflict comes, the book gets super irritating and annoying, particularly Kamilah. She can be incredibly selfish, doing whatever she wants and dragging everyone along with her, acting like the world’s biggest martyr, among other not-so-nice things (not going any further on this for now). It gets better and this definitely doesn’t ruin the book, but does get under my skin.

Rating: 4
Steam: Low to Medium
Themes and Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Fake Relationship, Childhood Friends, Opposites Attract
Pair With: Irish Whiskey

"That’s the truth about making mistakes, about making the wrong choices. You live with them, and if you’re lucky you get enough perspective to see where you went astray."

When Luck of the Draw started off, I couldn’t think of two people less likely to get together. The epitome of the enemies-to-lovers trope. 

Zoe’s rethinking her life after quitting her job at a ruthless law firm that completely screwed over Aiden’s family after his brother died. Aiden has never hated anyone more, but he desperately needs to appear family-friendly to buy a business and honor his brother. So he uses Zoe’s conscience to get her to pose as his fake fiancé, and she’d do anything to right her wrong.

Loved the banter and quit wit in this book, and really loved the theme of family and honoring a loved one who struggled with addiction.

Rating: 4
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Fake Relationship, Proximity, Addiction
Pair With: Non-alcoholic wines.

"When she smiled, the world smiled with her, and more than once, I found myself wishing I was the man she deserved to be with, the one she had come to Italy to find."

Childhood friends and enemies Indira and Jude are thrown together for her brother and his best friend, Collin’s, wedding to Jeremy. Jude spent the past few years as a doctor in war zones and other humanitarian disasters, doing what he can to help people and becoming horrifically traumatized in his efforts. Now that he’s back home for several weeks, he struggles just to pretend to be normal and is triggered by large groups and noise.

Indira walked in on her dirtbag boyfriend with another woman and promptly moved out—and into Collin and Jeremy’s place where, of course, Jude is staying. And the dirtbag boyfriend is Jeremy’s cousin and part of the wedding, so there will be a lot of togetherness for weeks on end.

So Indira and Jude strike a fake relationship deal—she needs a fake boyfriend as a buffer against her ex and his new GF; he needs an excuse to slip away from the noise. A touch here, some fake PDA there, and suddenly it’s not so fake.

I loved how this book explored some darker issues without getting too dark. Jude’s PTSD from what he’s seen, the guilt he feels for the lives he couldn’t save, and his supervisors’ suspicion and efforts to discredit him were haunting and real. It worked well that psychiatrist Indira was there for him—although he didn’t want her treating him like a patient. And Indira’s own mental health was a focus, with visits to her own therapist and coming to terms with the concept that she doesn’t need to be perfect to serve her patients well. All in all, a moving book that was still fun and had some hilarious moments too.

Rating:4
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Childhood Enemies/Friends, Fake Relationship, Proximity, Enemies to Lovers
Pair With: Champagne

A green card marriage with a hot Irishman? Yes please. Brilliant guitarist Calvin, who’s been busking on the New York subway, gets his dream job on Broadway with renowned musical director Robert, but there’s the small problem of his four-years-expired student visa.

Enter Holland, Robert’s niece and theater employee, who wants to repay some of his kindness toward her and who harbors a major crush on Calvin. So, reader, she marries him.

As they marry, move in together, and navigate the tricky green card process, they go from acquaintances to friends to lovers to—true husband and wife?  There are lots of ups and downs, Calvin pisses me off more than a few times and Holland once or twice, but the ending—hell yes!

The ending is the culmination of the fabulous character development built up through the book. The author infuses so much joy, love, and relief that I found myself smiling and feeling so genuinely happy for these imaginary people.  Another book where I listened to the end more than once and read it.

Rating: 4.5
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Fake Relationship, Roommates, Secrets
Pair With: Irish Drinks

Secret (or not-so-secret) childhood crushes mount a comeback in a not-so-fake relationship when Harper and Drew find themselves together at their families’ Maine summer homes as adults.

Drew’s been mostly happy, with a wildly successful hockey career and loving parents. Harper’s doing just fine with a good job, but carries a huge hole in her heart from her dad’s death and doesn’t exactly have a great relationship with her mom and sister. And now she has to go to her sister’s wedding. At her dad’s favorite lake. Alone. Until Drew offers to be her plus-one…and let the fake relationship begin.

Six Summers to Fall was better than I thought it was going to be. It looked like a fairly vanilla story of childhood acquaintances reuniting in a nostalgic place—and to a point it was, but not in a bad way. It was easy to read, easy to relate to the characters (ok, maybe not easy to relate to athletic stardom), easy to crush on Drew, and easy to chill and enjoy. An easy story all the way around.

With all the angsty and dark out there, Six Summers to Fall was a pleasant read that hit right where I needed it to. But of course it’s not all sunshine and roses. There’s Harper’s grief and family relationships to work through. Both Harper and Drew keep others at bay and have a hard time opening up. Really, how did they even get together given their mutual aloofness?

Rating: 3.8
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Childhood Acquaintances, Athlete, Proximity, Fake Relationship
Pair With: Wines to enjoy lakeside, such as a nice sauvignon blanc or rosé.

Following Secretly Yours by only a few months, Unfortunately Yours is the rare sequel that bests the original.

Natalie’s always been underestimated and ignored by her winemaking family, so off she went to get her business degree and kick ass in the New York hedge fund world. Until she made one mistake and wasn’t kicking ass anymore. Determined to get back to the top, she comes home for her trust fund to raise some capital, but there’s one problem—it requires a husband… antiquated, yes, but it says what it says.

Enter the smoking hot new guy in Napa and former Navy SEAL August, who wants to honor his late best friend’s legacy by running a successful vineyard. Who also happens to be Natalie’s sworn enemy. So far, his wine is terrible and he’s running out of money. So they decide to get married. What could go wrong?

So far, it sounds like just another fake relationship/marriage of convenience trope, right? But wait, there’s more. The themes are woven together perfectly: Natalie’s disillusionment with her family, August’s grief and need to atone for his friend’s death, inside and outside forces spurring them on yet driving them apart.

I really empathized with Natalie more than I usually can in a rom-com (and no, I don’t have a family like hers). You know there are the rom-coms where you just roll your eyes or let yourself get super irritated over the final obstacle—Unfortunately Yours isn’t one of those books. And without spoiling it, the ending was anything but unfortunate.

Rating: 5
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Marriage of convenience, fake relationship, enemies to lovers, military guy, Women dealing with boys’ club
Pair With: Wines from Veteran-Owned Vineyards.

Ziggy is the youngest in her family, youngest on the USWNT, and tired of her teammates and family treating her like a baby. She’s ready to kick ass on the field and in life, and to graduate from the kids’ table at family get-togethers. Sebastian is her brother’s self-destructive best friend and hockey star who desperately needs a reputation rebuild to keep his sponsors and his job.

So Ziggy needs some edge, Sebastian needs a reboot, and the duo decides to fake a friendship and get the type of exposure each wants. From the start, they want more but won’t give in; Sebastian knows he needs to get himself together and Ziggy knows she can’t push him too hard.

This story is the sweetest! Sebastian is a priceless gem and Ziggy is pretty cool too. I loved seeing a tall, athletic, and determined heroine, and watching Sebastian grow into an amazing person. There’s not a ton of emphasis on Ziggy’s soccer career; a game or two, and references to her travel and practice schedule, but not getting into the weeds. The Bergman family is lovely—just so many great people!

P.S. No super annoying third-act breakup. Woohoo!

Rating: 5
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Slow Burn, Athletes/Sports, Fake Relationship, Friends to Lovers, Opposites Attract
Pair With: Wines that sponsor women’s soccer and other women’s sports. Consider Jacob’s Creek, which is sponsoring the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Dragged to the Wedding by Andrew Grey is HILARIOUS. Even when books are funny, I don’t usually laugh out loud while I’m reading them. This book is the exception. It broaches some serious topics, but really the book is all about fun while making sure we’re aware that people often go through not-fun experiences.

James—who’s gay—just wants to get through his sister’s wedding without causing waves in his conservative family. Particularly with his dictatorial and narrow-minded mother. So he lines up Daniel—aka Lala Traviata—a gorgeous drag queen to pose as Daniela, his lovely, straight girlfriend. He figures it’s easier to fake a girlfriend for a week than actually stand up to his mom and just tell her he’s gay.

Of course, it’s a fiasco from the start. Crazy things go wrong, and who solves most of the problems (some of which mommy dearest caused)? Daniel. There are so many funny storylines—the reverend, the family issues, the growing feelings and affection—that all culminate in a perfect ending for this book.

A few things would have been nice. More dimension to the side characters, for one. Stereotypes abound: James’ mom is the classic domineering conservative woman who thinks she can cure James being gay. James’ dad is the husband who lets his wife walk all over him and doesn’t say much of consequence. Weston is the complete jerk best man with absolutely zero redeeming qualities. James’ sisters are fine, but bland.

This book isn’t designed to be earth-shattering and deeply serious—it’s a rom-com. Would a little more depth—especially on James’ experience as a gay cop—have been nice? Sure. But if you want a soul-searching and somber take on LGBTQIA+ issues, look elsewhere. There are some really meaningful moments and statements about gay kids coming out to their families, especially in a non-accepting environment, but the book doesn’t dwell on it.

I’m here for hilarity, development of James and Daniel’s relationship, and quirkiness. And, bonus, it’s a pretty quick read/listen. I did the audio version, and Joel Leslie does a great job. With some of the longer audiobooks, I can’t wait for them to finish, but Dragged to the Wedding could have gone on much longer!

Rating: 4.5
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: LGBTQIA+, Fake Relationship, Meddling Family, Wedding
Pair With: AZ Hops and Wines Drag Queen variety, which is “2022 Malvasia co-fermented with cascade hops… a beer dressed up as a wine!” Also, check out this post on DiVino: Glasss, Queen! 8 Wine and Drag Queen Pairings

Ren is a famous heiress to an auction house fortune and a prisoner to her overbearing and cold grandmother, her only family. Her life is filled with luxury but devoid of love or compassion. When her fiancé dumping her becomes world news, grandma dearest demands she return to London, but she manages to get a few weeks to hide out in Paris.

Enter Sacha, a sexy, brooding, and soulful Lebanese-Parisian who’s a stranger to luxury and privilege but knows compassion. An accident brings them together, and they agree to pose as lovers so she can have some fun in Paris and heal before reporting back to her London life.

In some ways, this is the classic rich girl who lives in a bubble and poor boy who shows her the world, but it works! Sacha is such a deep, beautiful, loving soul and I can’t get enough of him. He has so much to give and so much character and spirit, even though he has his issues too.

Ren has allowed her grandmother and others to walk all over her and manipulate her, and is a shadow of a person when she meets Sacha. It’s unreal how she allows them to treat her and you see just how much damage they did. She learns to stand up for herself, figure out what she wants, and fight for it. Ren helps Sacha come out of his shell and learn to love and trust again.

Rating: 4
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Class Differences, Fake Relationship, Opposites Attract, Travel
Pair With: French Wine, Lebanese Wine

The fourth in the Hawthorne Family series, How to Kiss a Movie Star is adorable and up there with How to Kiss Your Enemy as my favorite in the series! It’s a classic heroine who knows nothing about celebrities meets People’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Wildlife biologist Audrey wants nothing more than to study the rare squirrels on celebrity actor Flint’s North Carolina forest land. She has no clue who he is or that he even owns the property until Flint’s security team drags her up to the house under threat of arrest.

Even in her bulky outdoor gear, Flint instantly finds her attractive and takes a liking to her. He’s fine with her using his land for her research as long as she stays away from the house. But, really, he doesn’t want her staying away. And when his Hollywood world is spinning and he needs a fake girlfriend, who better than the woman he’d like to be his real girlfriend?

The book was super cute, as most of Jenny Proctor’s are—chemistry, lightness, fun, and nothing graphic. She does a fantastic job of making the characters seem like real people, turning a Hollywood actor into a normal guy, and expanding beyond just Audrey and Flint. The rest of the characters keep up some fun banter and add to the story. It is a little cheesy and a little too good to be true, but that’s a rom-com, right?

Rating: 4
Steam: None
Themes and Tropes: Scientist Heroine, Celebrity/Actor, Fake Relationship
Pair With: Wineries focused on sustainability

Jack and Hallie both want love and bet on who can find it first, agreeing that they definitely won’t find it with each other but can help each other out. After each disastrous date, they find themselves eating tacos together, finding ways to commiserate, and bonding through some cute and hilarious banter. So they decide to be fake dates for a wedding weekend, but how long can they hold out?

This book was super cute and fun for the most part, with sweetness and charm all over, but COME ON with the endless miscommunication! Can the characters please just open their mouths the tiniest bit and reveal just the smallest shard of a feeling? I get being scared to admit some strong feelings, but this one went in circles one too many times. So if you can get past this, you’ll probably really enjoy this book!

Rating: 3.5
Steam: Medium to High
Themes and Tropes: Friends to lovers, bet/wager, fake relationship
Pair with: Wines that pair well with tacos and spicy foods. Consider a mimosa with breakfast tacos, sauvignon blanc with fish tacos, and a bold red to match the bold flavors in beef tacos.

Quiet school librarian and governor-hopeful cause scandal. Fun ensues...

In The Boyfriend Candidate, School librarian Alexis and gubernatorial candidate Logan each hit a hotel bar at the end of a long day. She’s hell-bent on a one-night-stand to shed her reputation as mousy and boring; he’s just there to have a drink and head home. But the universe has other plans. Upstairs they go and have some fun until the fire alarm goes off and they find themselves—clearly disheveled—outside in front of camera crews. And a fake relationship is born.

I mostly loved this book. Alexis and Logan are good but flawed humans—they feel like real people with real strengths and challenges. Alexis grows and finds her voice through Logan’s campaign and getting outside her comfort zone. She goes from quiet and scared to somewhat more assertive and confident. Maybe (definitely) her metamorphosis is unrealistic, but it’s a rom-com, so…. Logan’s growth isn’t as clear and obvious, but it’s there. He starts figuring out what to prioritize, what he wants out of life, and how much he loves Alexis. It’s cute, fun, and doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking (indeed, I’d advise against trying to think too much here).

I HATED the side plot. It wasn’t well-thought-out and just didn’t mesh with the story. Alexis’ sister, Lee, is also a politician, and, in exchange for her endorsing Logan, she demands Alexis go on a date with someone else. Obviously, Lee should know better than to push something that could easily destroy Logan’s campaign, and she should see how Alexis cares for Logan, but she does it anyway. You can see where this is going, and I’ll leave it at that. Really soured an otherwise great book for me. Yes, I suspend reality for rom-coms, but this plotline didn’t work.

Other (mild and personal preference) annoyance: singular first-person perspective. You only get Alexis’ point of view. While the author does a nice job of showing Logan’s thoughts and feelings through his actions and dialogue, it would have been nice to see some of the events from his perspective.

Still, The Boyfriend Candidate entertained me throughout with election drama, personalities, and legit commentary on education and politics, among other things. Everything came together beautifully at the end, all the feels were there, and they feel like the perfect couple.

Rating: 3.8
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Fake Relationship, Politics, Opposites Attract
Pair With: Texas Wines.

Greer overhears her dad’s dying wish to be able to walk one of his daughters down the aisle, and she’s on it—find someone to fake marry her so her dad can have this moment of joy. Her brother’s teammate and friend Beckett needs a wife, or at least a stable, serious relationship, so his ex can know she’s leaving their daughter, Olive, in good hands when she moves to London for a year. Problem solved. They put on a show with their fake wedding, move in together, and start spending lots of time together. And, of course, soon it’s not so fake anymore…

Favorite thing(s) about One and Only? Definitely the characters—lots of fun, interesting, loving people. Greer is smart, hardworking, thoughtful, and very devoted to her family (clearly, since she decides to fake a wedding just to make her dad feel some happiness). Beckett adores Olive and is thrilled for the opportunity to be a bigger part of her everyday life, and Greer jumps on the Olive bandwagon instantly. Greer’s family is lovely, with some quirks, and Olive’s mom, Josie, is supportive (no bitchy exes here, so refreshing) and loving. There’s some drama in there as well to keep things interesting, and the genuine love and bonding in this book is strong.

Rating: 4
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Fake Relationship, Marriage of Convenience, Single Parent, Sports/Athlete, Slow Burn
Pair With: Wine from Oregon