Fake relationships are one of my favorite tropes, so I can’t believe that I haven’t put this recommendation list together sooner! And do you want to know why that is? Because MANY of these books have made my Best of the Month or Best of the Year list, and I can only recommend them so many times in a row!!! That should tell you a little something about the quality of the recommendations on this list.
Fake relationships – to me – are the perfect catalyst for love. It’s a chance to see someone in a different light, and the forced proximity typically means that our couple appears on most pages together. I love a book that solely focuses on the dynamic between the characters, the sexual tension, and the evolving feelings – and that’s what fake relationships accomplish. They often require the characters to get out of their comfort zone, and it’s a great way to advance a relationship in a matter of days. Whether it’s a brother’s best friend stepping in as a date for a wedding, a near-stranger proposing “marriage,” an enemy putting their nemesis on the spot, a boss demanding something outside of the job description, or a friend lending a hand (willingly or otherwise), fake relationships come in many forms.
The books on this list are all contemporary romance novels that have received 5-star ratings from me, and several have also made Best of lists. The older ones probably would’ve made the lists if I’d been blogging at the time! I’ve included a description of the vibe, the blurb, and a link to Amazon for easy addition to your collection for each book. Happy reading!
Best of the Month Selection • Reverse age gap • Strangers to lovers • Fling to more • Light yet heartfelt
Flirting with 40 by K. Bromberg
An all new flirty, lighthearted, standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg guaranteed to make you swoon.
Blakely Foxx is having one of those years.
Her divorce may have been finalized a few months ago, but her ex is already engaged to someone half her age. Her younger boss is determined to sabotage her chance at getting the promotion she rightly deserves. And to make matters worse, she’s closing in on the big 4-0. There isn’t enough wine or ice cream in the world to convince her things will turn around.
When Blakely meets Slade Henderson, she’s left wondering why an early-thirties, hotter than hell, cardiothoracic surgeon would take an interest in her.
She’s been warned that he’ll break her heart, but she’s willing to take the chance. Not only is he helping her get that promotion, but in the process, he’s encouraging her to find the parts of herself she’s lost over the past few years.
Slade shows her that good guys really do exist, but who knew the hardest part about turning forty would be realizing the man you thought was a rebound, is actually your happily ever after?
Jeeves’ Top 20 of 2020 Selection • Light and sexy with a touch of angst • Boss/employee • Fake holiday date
A Very Bossy Christmas by Kayley Loring
What’s the actual last thing you’d ever want your executive assistant to see you doing the morning after you had hot, drunk, angry sex with her in a terrible hotel room? Dancing around your terrible hotel room to “Come and Get Your Love” like Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy—naked? Yeah. Me too.
And yet, here we are.
This isn’t even the most unprofessional thing that’s happened between us in the past couple of weeks.
The first was when I agreed to let her have Christmas Day off, but only if she goes with me to three family gatherings as my fake girlfriend.
The second was when she caught me belting out a Christmas song on stage in the awful hotel bar.
The third was the hot, drunk, angry sex that followed, but I do not regret it.
And she hasn’t even found out the real reason I need her by my side this holiday season.
I need to pull it together before I do the dumbest, most unprofessional thing of all—fall head over heels in love with the only assistant who’s lasted more than a month at the job and claims to hate me and my moods more than she hates eggnog.
And I’ve seen how much she hates eggnog.
Laugh out loud rom com • Sports romance • Light yet heartfelt • Acquaintances to lovers to awkward to lovers • Fake date
I Pucking Love You by Pippa Grant
You know those stories where an adorably misunderstood clumsy girl needs a fake date to a wedding so she asks her brother’s best friend and they accidentally fall in love?
I wish that was the kind of life I lead, but it’s not.
I don’t need a date to a wedding. I need a date to a funeral.
Clumsy sometimes fits, but then, that’s true for all of us, right? But adorable? No. Misunderstood? Nope again. I’m just your average girl, standing in front of a funeral invitation, asking it to be a winning lottery ticket instead.
And I don’t have a brother, or a best friend with a brother available, which means I’m stuck with Tyler Jaeger.
Sure, he’s a professional hockey player who also knows advanced calculus, but let’s say we’re not compatible and leave it at that. I should know. I am a matchmaker.
Not a very good one, but that’s beside the point.
I know a mismatch when I see one.
Still, Tyler’s what I’ve got, and I am not going to this funeral solo, so he’s what I’ll take.
After all—what could go wrong at a funeral?
I Pucking Love You is a hilariously wrong romantic comedy about the world’s worst matchmaker, a hockey player with a problem he doesn’t want to talk about, and an awkward date-of-convenience that everyone would prefer to forget. It comes complete with a cat working his way through his nine lives, all the sexy times, fish and chips, and a swoony happily-ever-after.
Best of the Month Selection • Friends to lovers • Emotional and sexy • Forbidden/Angsty
Twisted Love by Piper Lawson
When your rich, handsome best friend asks you to be his fake girlfriend?
One of the wealthiest self-made men in New York needs a woman to secure his spot at the helm of his venture firm.
Problem is, Ben doesn’t want any girlfriend…
He wants me.
It will never work.
We’d have to lie to everyone.
He’s incapable of a healthy relationship, and I’ve been living a secret I can’t reveal – especially to my best friend.
It’s an impossible choice:
Bail on the friend who got me through the hardest time in my life…
…Or pretend to fall for the man who already owns my heart?
Best of the Month Selection • Angsty New Adult • Former friends turned enemies • Tense and sexy
Fake It Til You Break It by Meagan Brandy
USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Meagan Brandy delivers a new standalone, fake relationship romance about finding light when your world is dark, and fighting for love when all seems lost.
That’s what we are.
That’s what we agreed to be.
So why does it feel so real?
I thought it would have been harder, convincing everyone our school’s star receiver was mine and mine alone, but I was wrong.
We played our parts so well that the lines between us began to blur until they disappeared completely.
The thing about pretending, though, someone’s always better at it, and by the time I realized my mistake, there was no going back.
I fell for our lie.
And then everything fell apart.
It turned out he and I were never playing the same game.
He didn’t have to break me to win.
But he did it anyway.
Best of the Month Selection • Marriage of convenience between frenemies • Slow burn to sizzle • Steamy and emotional
Call Me Crazy by Melanie Harlow
It was the perfect plan.
I needed a wife–temporarily–in order to inherit the family business.
And she needed a favor–the kind that takes nine months to deliver.
We had it all worked out, from the no-touching policy on our wedding night (her rule) to the no-falling-in-love decree (mine). She’d marry me, I’d give her the means to have the baby she’d always wanted, and one year later we’d amicably part ways with no hassle, no demands, and certainly no regrets.
After all, Bianca DeRossi and I are experts at infuriating one another–we’ve been doing it since we were kids. Trouble is, she grew up gorgeous and feisty, and she still knows exactly how to get under my skin.
And that wedding night? Well, it doesn’t exactly go down hands-free.
Then she moves in with me, and I really start to lose my mind. From her sexy little pout to her wicked sense of humor to those meatball sandwiches she makes just because she knows they’re my favorite . . . I find myself wanting to break every rule we put in place.
Our story was never supposed to end with happily ever after.
But call me crazy, I just might be in love with my wife.
Strangers to lovers • Hired date • Light and playful • Low angst
The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely
April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn’t been on GigsForHire since that time she sold her futon after college. She doesn’t even spend that much time online. And even if she did, she would not be looking up personal ads. But going home alone for her family’s summer reunion is an invitation for every single relative to butt into her personal life. She simply can’t handle another blind date with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker from her hometown. So when she finds the GigsforHire ad for a boyfriend-for-hire, she’s ready to pay to play.
Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL.
Theo Banks has been running from the past for years. He’s this close to finally settling all his debts, and one more job as a boyfriend-for-hire will do the trick. He’s no gigolo. Please. He’s something of an actor, and he knows how to slip into any role, including pretending to be April’s new beau — the bad boy with the heart of gold.
Even if it means sleeping in close quarters in that tiny little bed in her parents’ inn. Even if it means spinning tales of a romance that starts to feel all too true. What neither one of them counts on is that amid the egg toss, the arm wrestling, and a fierce game of Lawn Twister that has them tangled up together, they might be feeling the real deal.
She only wanted to show her family once and for all that she had no need to settle down.
He didn’t expect to have the time of his life at her parent’s home.
They didn’t plan on loving every single second of the game.
But can a masterful game of pretend result in true love?
Jeeves’ Top 20 of 2020 Selection • Opposites attract • Laugh out loud • Sports romance • Slow burn to sizzle
Real Fake Love by Pippa Grant
He smiles. Mr. Grumpypants actually smiles at me, a full, real, heart-stopping smile with mirth dancing in his eyes, teeth flashing, and his cheeks dimpling up behind that layer of dark scruff.
Be still my panties. I think I’m in trouble.
If people have polar opposites, Luca Rossi is mine.
His butt is in the baseball hall of fame. Mine’s comfortably seated in the hall of lame.
When he’s not snagging fly balls out in center field, he’s modeling in shampoo commercials. I once jammed my own finger while stirring cookie dough, and sometimes I forget shampoo is a thing.
He’s a total cynic when it comes to love.
I make a living writing love stories.
But after my latest broken engagement (no, I don’t want to talk about how many times that’s happened), it’s clear he’s exactly the man I need.
If anyone can teach me to be the opposite of me, it’s him.
The first thing I want him to teach me?
How to not fall in love.
And as luck would have it, he’s in desperate need of a fake girlfriend to get a meddling grandmother off his back.
We couldn’t be more perfect together, because the last thing Luca Rossi will ever be is the next man to leave me at the altar.
Or will he?
Real Fake Love is a line drive straight to the heart featuring a grumpy athlete, a jilted bride, a fake relationship, and the world’s laziest cat. It stands alone and comes complete with sibling rivalry, the world’s most awkward shower scene, and a sweetly satisfying happily ever after.
Jeeves’ Top 20 of 2020 Selection • Quirky rom com • Laugh out loud • Grumpy/sunshine • Slow burn to sizzle
The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée by Annika Martin
I’m no Prince Charming, and the last thing I want is a Cinderella.
My instructions were simple: scour the city for a fake fiancée who’s not my type at all. Have her on my jet Monday morning, dressed for a yacht vacation.
I need a woman believable enough to convince a certain client that I’ve changed my playboy ways…yet too annoying to tempt me—no emotional entanglements, thank you very much. This is business only.
If she’s unfazed by my looks and wealth, all the better.
Should be easy. Right?
Apparently not, because my people go and hire Tabitha. My hairdresser.
What were they thinking? Yes, I said annoying, but I didn’t mean her, the most aggravating woman in the world.
Tabitha is sunshiny. She has a pet hamster. She loves Hello Kitty, and she gets under my skin like nobody else.
As if that’s not bad enough, the minute we step on deck, she thinks that certain people on the yacht are up to something shady—based completely on her soap opera knowledge.
She won’t listen when I tell her she’s being ridiculous.
But as the days go by, I find that we’re actually having fun. And our fake kisses are heating up. And suddenly her wild theories aren’t sounding so strange after all…
Best of the Month Selection • Rom com with some angst • Light and steamy • Boss/employee • Opposites attract
Boss Man Bridegroom by Meghan Quinn
“Will you do me the greatest honor of all time and be my bridegroom?” she asks, hope in her eyes . . .
How did I get here? My assistant, bent on one knee, holding my hand, her expectant face waiting for an answer.
Just . . . how?
How did I go from being insulted by Charlee Cox to hiring her to be my assistant? How is it that she’s chaos in color – making me crazy and my life better at the same time?
I never thought I would be staring down at her bright blue eyes begging me to go along with this ridiculous scheme I suggested.
Yes, I suggested. Like the idiot I am, I thought hey, why not start an HR nightmare and have my assistant ask me to marry her?
Confused? Don’t worry, so am I.
But try to follow along, because this is how I became Boss Man Bridegroom.
Friends to lovers • Fake engagement • Light and low angst
Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, the “queen of witty dialogue” (Rachel Van Dyken, New York Times bestselling author), comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.
Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.
But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?
Strangers to lovers • Marriage of convenience • Light yet emotional
Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn
This marriage is strictly business . . . until the temptation gets way too real.
Corbin: I loved my grandma, but I don’t need her money. All I care about is keeping the house—the only place that’s ever felt like home. That, and screwing over my dad, who wants to turn the property into a mall. There’s only one catch: To receive my inheritance, I have to get married within six months. Me, the guy who’s never dated a girl for more than six minutes. Now I need to find a woman I can trust. So when I’m rear-ended by a Prius, I figure it’s a sign that I’m supposed to meet gorgeous, down-to-earth Teagan Monroe.
Teagan: First I lose my job. Then I come home and find out—in the most graphic way possible . . . yeah, that way—that my boyfriend is a cheating jerk. And then I speed off and nearly kill Portland’s sexiest bachelor. Corbin Lane should be pissed. Instead, he offers me more money than I’ve ever seen in my life to marry him and live together in a mansion for two years. No sex. No feelings. Just cash—enough to make all my dreams come true. Then we go and break all our rules . . . and I realize I’m falling in love with my fake fiancé.
Friends to lovers • Single dad • Slow burn to sizzle • Light yet emotional
Best Fake Fiancé by Roxie Noir
I told a judge I was engaged to my best friend.
Now we’re faking it.
How hard can it be?
My life has room for exactly two women: my daughter Rusty and my best friend Charlotte — known to everyone as Charlie.
One is a feisty, tomboyish firecracker. The other is my seven-year-old. I can’t imagine life without either.
So when my ex springs a custody hearing on me, I find myself telling the judge that I’m engaged to Charlie.
The only problem? I’m not.
Time to fake an engagement.
Pretending we’re a couple will be no big deal.
We’ve been friends for years. We used to sneak cigarettes behind the bleachers. We turned cans of hairspray into flamethrowers. We got drunk on stolen malt liquor.
She’s beautiful, vivacious, spontaneous, and she loves my daughter to death. It’s the perfect answer: we fake it for a few months, then go back to our lives.
Until we touch, and sparks fly. Until I can’t take my eyes off her. Until I can’t stop thinking about what she’s got on under her coveralls.
It takes one kiss.
One shared secret and suddenly, I’m not pretending anymore. I want her, I need her in ways I didn’t know I could.
But there’s a lifetime of friendship between us, and falling in love with Charlie could mean risking everything.
Light and steamy • Brother’s best friend • Fake engagement
My Big, Fat, Fake Engagement by Lauren Landish
Boss babe. Ice Queen.
That’s what they call me at the office.
But there’s one man who has secretly melted me for years.
The only problem? He’s my big brother’s best friend.
But when he asks me to play his fiancée to seal a business deal?
Oh, I’m taking this gift horse and riding it while I can.
He’s got the whole tall, handsome, and intense thing down pat… with a side of quiet mystery and sexy brains to boot.
He’s everything I want. Everything I need.
It should be easy—a business arrangement between two Type-A workaholics. A few dinner dates here, a few kisses there, and none will be the wiser.
But if his business partner finds out it’s fake, he’s screwed. And if my brother finds out it’s real, he might be dead.
There are a hundred ways to lose, but when I’m in his arms, I feel like I’ve already won.
Strangers to lovers • Sports romance • Convenient Vegas wedding • Series starter • Light and steamy
Play to Win by Kelly Jamieson
After an injury forced Théo Wynn to give up professional hockey, he turned to his second love: numbers. Now, as the general manager of his grandfather’s NHL team, the Los Angeles Condors, Théo is dying to prove to the rest of his family—especially the brother who betrayed him—that he’s just as successful as the rest of them. If only Théo had a gorgeous woman on his arm to complete the picture. . . .
Lacey Olson needs to get out of Las Vegas right now, thanks to her no-good, crooked brother. When a handsome stranger who’s out partying with friends comes to her rescue in the cocktail lounge where she works, they strike up a conversation that leads to a crazy plan: her leaving with Théo for L.A. tomorrow. A few drinks later, the idea gets even crazier: a quickie marriage that works for both of them.
But back in California, Lacey immediately turns Théo’s precise, well-ordered life into one big beach party. And before long, she’s tempting him with her smart mouth, sexy body, and sunny charm. The last thing Théo needs is a real relationship to distract him. Because he only plays to win. . . .
Want more romance recs?
I referenced my Top 20 of 2020 several times in this list. You can find the complete list here, which includes my favorite books of 2020, top picks by trope, favorite covers, and the books that stayed on my mind (for better or worse).
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