What’s even better than fake dating? Real dating. But of course, we all know that’s what fake dating always eventually leads to. Ask any theater kid or actor who’s ever been enmeshed in a showmance — you can’t just pretend to fall in love with someone without at least a little bit of falling in love with them. Try telling that to the couples at the heart of these 12 queer fake dating books, though. They’ll never believe you.
I love few things more than some good fake dating fan fiction — fiction, I mean, fake dating fiction — and these 12 books are great examples of all the things this trope does so well. With oblivious romantics and mutual crushes, not to mention forced proximity and some occasional enemy to lovers, fake dating encompasses so many fun elements of romance fiction. Writers love it, readers love it, and from the amount of books continuing to come out, I think it’s safe to say publishers love it, as well. They love how much readers love it, anyway. So whether you’re a writer, a reader, or simply a romantic daydreamer, take a moment to enjoy the oblivious antics of the fake lovebirds at the heart of these queer fake dating books.
Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee
After losing his mother to cancer last year, Dylan Tang is just hoping to help keep his aunt’s takeout restaurant afloat and honor his mother’s memory by winning a mooncakes competition this fall. What he never expected was for a rich, handsome teen who is looking to reconnect with his mother’s culture and maybe snag a fake date to a wedding in the Hamptons to walk into his life. They come from two entirely different worlds, but with a little luck and a whole lot of mooncakes, maybe these two can figure out how to stop pretending their feelings are entirely fake.
Flip the Script by Lyla Lee
Landing a role in a K-Drama has been Hana’s dream, but juggling a leading role, a fake boyfriend, and all the expectations of her fans and her parents might be more than she bargained for. When producers introduce a new character to challenge hers for the show’s love interest and cast her former friend/rival in the role, Hana’s emotions flare. But weirdly, it’s not just frustration or resentment she feels. In fact, the more she has to keep up appearances of being in a relationship with her co-star Bryan Yoon, the more apparent it is that the person she really wants to be with is her on-screen and off-screen rival, Minjee.
D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins
Faking a relationship is one thing, but faking an engagement and a wedding is a whole ‘other. But in order to win Instant I Do, a reality show all about convincing your closest friends and loved ones you’re marrying a stranger, that’s exactly what D’Vaughn and Kris have to do. There’s just one tiny catch: if they decide to actually get married, instead of splitting the prize money, they go through with the wedding of their dreams.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
To prove to her friends that her bisexuality is valid, Hani makes a spur-of-the-moment claim to be dating the one girl her friends can’t stand: Ishu Dey. Ishu doesn’t feel the need to prove her sexuality to anyone, but pretending to be dating the most popular girl in school might give her the social capital to be elected head girl. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement with no strings attached. But soon it becomes clear that opposites attract as the two of them begin to develop very real feelings.
The Borrow a Boyfriend Club by Page Powars
Noah has the perfect plan to prove he’s just another one of the boys: join the school’s illustrious (and highly secret) Borrow a Boyfriend Club. But his audition for the club is a disaster, and his only shot at becoming a member is to woo Asher, the handsome club president, on a series of test dates. The stakes are high and the dates are fake, but Noah’s growing feelings for Asher are anything but. And even if he succeeds in proving to Asher that he deserves a spot in the club, he’ll lose his chance to be with Asher. Because the most important rule of The Borrow a Boyfriend Club is simple — no real boyfriends or girlfriends allowed.
Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
When the girl she’s crushing on asks her to fake a relationship to make her ex jealous, Nozomi sees it as the perfect opportunity to win her over. Willow may be pining after someone else, but Nozomi knows she can prove she’s the perfect girlfriend. Can Nozomi convince Willow she’s the girl of her dreams, or will someone entirely new show Nozomi that love can turn up in the most surprising of places?
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
The son of rock star parents, Luc O’Donnell needs to clean up his image and fast, or else he can kiss his job goodbye. That means a respectable boyfriend who can make Luc seem more respectable in turn. Oliver Blackwood is just the man for a job. A barrister without a whiff of scandal to his name, Oliver could be just the sort of boyfriend Luc needs. The only problem is they have nothing in common. But with a mutual need for a date for big events, they agree to fake a relationship until the dust has settled around Luc and the events are done. That would all be easy enough if fake dating wasn’t starting to feel so much like real dating for the two of them. Can their feelings overcome all the differences between them, or will this relationship remain firmly fictional?
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
When the blogger behind a collection of trans stories featuring happily ever afters is exposed as a liar, he can only see one possible solution: make his stories real. A fake boyfriend could be just the proof he needs to convince people that Meet Cute Diary isn’t a sham. But staging a relationship — or writing one — isn’t quite the same as falling for someone in real life. As Noah falls for Drew, he’ll have to decide whether to follow the script he so carefully laid out for himself or try living — and loving — in the moment.
She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
A basketball player and a cheerleader enter into a fake dating scheme after a fender-bender forces them to carpool together. Scottie and Irene may hate each other, but when she sees an opportunity to get back at her ex and maybe climb the rungs of the high school social ladder while she’s at it, Scottie bribes Irene into pretending to be her girlfriend. It’s either a brilliant plan or a recipe for gay disaster. Probably a bit of both.
The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert
This is a royal romance starring a bisexual prince! When the paparazzi catch sight of a prince kissing a London office worker fed up with relationships, his hopes of rehabbing his image are thrown out the window — unless he can convince her to pretend they really are dating, at least for a little while. Cherry, who had no idea she was getting into a one-night stand with a royal, is not having it — and neither is the king. Resisting Rueben is easier said than done, though, especially once Cherry starts to realize just how complicated his position in the palace really is.
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Tracking down a long-lost princess is not an easy task — especially when said princess has no interest in being found. That’s not going to stop Beznaria Chetchevaliere, though. Tasked by the World Federation of Monarchies to find the missing heir to the Ibarania throne, Beznaria shows up on Makeda Hick’s doorstep with one goal: bringing her back to the island nation to take her rightful place on the throne. But Makeda has no interest in being a princess. Still, one transatlantic ocean ride and a fake marriage later, Makeda somehow finds herself following Bez’s lead, hook, line, and sinker.
Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date by Ashley Herring Blake (October 24, 2023)
Iris Kelly is done with romance. It’s clearly not for her. So when a cute actor claims they’re dating after a disastrous one-night stand, not knowing Iris is auditioning for the play Stevie is starring in, Iris decides to play along. Maybe it will even provide some inspiration for the romance novel she’s supposed to be writing. But while Stevie’s anxiety might be what ruined their chances for a hookup in the first place, it’s Iris’s own fears that could keep them from something even better: a chance at love.
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