Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau | Review

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: May 22nd, 2018

Publisher: Jackie Lau Books

Genre: contemporary, adult, romance 

Goodreads blurb:

I’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer. 

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

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R E V I E W

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend may be the shortest book I have read this year. I was really expecting this book to be something it wasn’t. I definitely enjoyed it but it really did fall short in certain things. This book was fluffy and it did lack an overall depth that I felt would have elevated this story. The biggest failure of this story was the immaturity of characters who are in their late 20’s and 30’s and the conclusion was incredibly weak. I feel that Grumpy Fake Boyfriend had some seriously good set up, just incredibly poor execution. Hell, I originally gave this book four stars but the more I think about it, it is definitely a three star read.

What is Jackie Lau’s diverse debut novel about? It follows both Will and Naomi as they pretend to be together over the course of a weekend. The reasoning behind this is simply because Naomi’s ex-boyfriend will be there with his new girlfriend and Naomi doesn’t want to feel pathetic. Will simply agrees because his best friend (who happens to be Naomi’s big brother) asks him too. The pair couldn’t be more different though. Will is a science fiction author who is incredibly introverted. He is also jaded from a past of girlfriends who want more out of his writing than him. Naomi is extroverted and I feel that is simply all we learn about her. There isn’t that extra layer of depth that Will gets and at times it really makes it feel as if the story is simply focused on Will. The pair fall into a pattern over the three day weekend and it is fast. Additionally, I feel that Grumpy Fake Boyfriend focuses on a lot that isn’t needed to be focused on, if that makes sense? There is this sub plot that Will’s family wants him to go on a family holiday that takes up a lot of his chapters, but it never really amounts to much? I guess that may be a focus in the sequel.

Okay, that’s enough of that. I want to rant about the things I liked and didn’t like about Jackie Lau’s Grumpy Fake Boyfriend.

L I K E S

SHORT & SWEET

I read this book in two hours. It is essentially a novella. The pacing is fast and the characters move even faster through the story that sometimes the story struggles to keep up with them. It really made for a good afternoon read, with the humour and adorable characters.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT & FORCED PROXIMITY

This story held two of my favourite tropes, opposites attract and forced proximity. I really feel as if Jackie Lau did a great job of executing these two tropes throughout the short story. She did incredibly well to create humour and ultimately, an amusing story.

D I S L I K E S

CHARACTERS LACKED DEPTH

Due to Grumpy Fake Boyfriend being so short I believe that literally all the characters lacked depth, especially the two main characters. I mentioned earlier that I felt that Will’s backstory was focused on a lot more than Naomi’s and I still feel that way. Naomi’s big backstory point was that her ex boyfriend was a tosser and she realized it throughout this story. It was really frustrating. All the side characters were also one dimensional. Which is a bit frustrating considering this book is going to have a sequel that focuses on Naomi’s older sister, which I feel we should have got more of in this story to set up for that sequel.

I am definitely not a character driven reader, but it would have been nice if Jackie Lau had fleshed out the cast a bit more.

WANTED MORE INTERACTION

I feel we got to know Naomi and Will as separate characters, two characters that I wouldn’t put together ever. I feel that this book could have used 100 more pages of interaction between Naomi and Will just to make their relationship to have the oomph it needed to really drive home. I feel as if the pair only had around four interactions that were non-sexual throughout the entire story and that is, personally, not enough for me to want to root for the pair of them.

CHARACTERS DON’T ACT THEIR AGE

I was talking to a friend about this one because she actually pointed it out to me. By the end of this book I was picturing the characters in their early twenties (at best). The characters honestly read as if they’re teenagers. It is uncomfortable. The dialogue and overall behaviours of the characters definitely did not connect with their age. The arguments are never resolved and there seems to be some toxic themes throughout some of the wording that I am still unable to fully put my finger on and describe.

There’s also this part where Will reads a series of Goodreads reviews to basically pat himself on the back? It was seriously uncomfortable. Goodreads is for reviewers, not authors.

Overall, Grumpy Fake Boyfriend was a fun read. However, if you do choose to pick this one up I may recommend not thinking too hard about it, because that is when the problems in this book become glaringly obvious and can’t be ignored. I think I will pick up book two in this series, but I doubt I will be reviewing it. Star-Divider

Happy reading everyone!

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