Monday, June 1, 2020

Isn't It Romantic?

The Boyfriend Project
Farrah Rochon
Series: The Boyfriend Project, #1
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Forever
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon launches a new series about three young women who become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they've all been duped by the same man.

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be "that" girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she's been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other "girlfriends," London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .

For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she's always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there's no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?
You know what they say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," and Samiah was far too intelligent to let it happen again. After being catfished by her alleged "boyfriend", Samiah and the other two women he was stringing along, agreed to take the next six months to eschew men, and use that time to put themselves first, calling this plan The Boyfriend Project. But, then she met Daniel, and began questioning her plans.

This was a workplace romance with a twist, and I rather enjoyed it. The book had all the makings for a story that was sure to win me over.
  • It was funny. The set up premise alone had me chuckling, but there was humor throughout the book, which kept me smiling. 
  • Samiah was an incredible woman. I think if I only saw that viral video, I would have been intimidated by her, but the more I learned about Samiah, the more I admired and respected her. Samiah rose up through the ranks of her tech company due to her intelligence, hard work, and grit. She also KNEW she was phenomenal at her job, and was not ashamed to claim her crown. I love seeing that in a woman, because we have been conditioned to not flaunt our skills, while men can crow all they want. So, good for Samiah! But, it wasn't enough for her to just be amazing at her job, she wanted to support and encourage other women, especially women of color, to reach for their dreams, and she wanted to help them realize their aspirations as well. Her ambition and desire to give back made her a standout heroine. 
  • Samiah + Daniel = Something Special. I loved these two together. They were both fighting the attraction for so long, but the whole time, I was treated to their spectacular banter and electric interactions. Daniel presented as Samiah's unicorn man. She had shared a list of things she wished she had gotten out of other relationships, and there was Daniel, doing those things, checking all the boxes. I loved it! They also had this mutual respect for each other. Combine that with all the little things they did to show affection, and I was fully onboard this ship. Watching these two together was such a pleasure, and it made me wish there was a bit more of the romance in the story. 
  • Female friendship for the win! Though they were brought together under less than desirable circumstances, an incredible friendship formed between Samiah, Taylor, and London (the other catfished women). They joked around, calling themselves "Squad Goals", but they really lived up to the name. The beauty of their friendship was in how different they were, yet how much they complimented each other. They pushed each other out of their comfort zones, and supported one another as they took those chances. The focus on friendship filled that romance hole for me, and I was happy it was a bigger part of the story. 
Overall: I felt like this book had it all. A standout heroine, fabulous unicorn-man hero, sweet romance, and a fantastic friendship were the driving forces for me, but I also appreciated the author taking on issues of gender and racial inequality in the workplace. Rochon expertly combined all these elements to produce a wonderful story, which has me eagerly awaiting the other Boyfriend Project books. 

The Marriage Game
Sara Desai
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.
Layla had hit bottom and returned home, hoping for a fresh start. What she found was that her father had curated a list of ten potential matches for her. She had perviously been opposed to an arranged meeting, but now that she had given up on finding love for herself, she was ready to give it a try. It even became a game, The Marriage Game, and the prize? Sole tenancy of the office suite. Layla seemed certain, that she would win this game, but Sam may have turned out to be a complication she didn't anticipate.

I have been getting sucked in by the "rom-com" label, and ending up disappointed. Either the book was light on the rom, the com, or both. But, finally, a book promising to be a rom-com delivered. The Marriage Game was packed with fun and funny moments. The humor ranged from slapstick and ridiculous to witty and observational. Regardless of the variety, I laughed, a LOT.

I have to credit Layla's family for contributing greatly to the humor filled side of this story, but they also brought a lot of warmth as well. The family restaurant oft served as the background for much of the story, and once Layla's father was hospitalized, it was filled with lots and LOTS of extended family members. More family equals more fun, and this was a great bunch. Yes, they sometimes drove Layla up a wall, but they did it with love, lots of love.

A disastrous date is never funny, unless it's someone else's, and here, we got to accompany Layla on a multitude of really bad dates. They were so over-the-top awful, and they had me in stitches. I was actually impressed with all the different scenarios Desai was able to come up with, and looked forward to each and every one.

Though this appeared to be an enemies-to-lovers type story, I never doubted the attraction between these two. They might have gotten off on the wrong foot, but there was instant heat and tension between them. These two trading barbs was a thing of beauty, but I also loved seeing them reveal their softer parts. Biting and witty, sweet and tender, I adored it all.

This book earned a 5-star rating, because I was incredibly entertained and felt many feels. I will admit, I would not have missed Sam's side plot. It was probably my least favorite thing about the book, but because every other thing was so stellar for me, it didn't ruin my experience. I also thought the ending was THE BEST! It really captured many of my favorite things about Sam and Layla's story, and tied them all together in a pretty package.

Overall: I had an amazing time playing THE MARRIAGE GAME, and am sort of hoping there will be more books set in this world.

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Favorite rom-com movie?
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