This fall, I wrote a quick, sexy book with (hopefully) a good twist of humor. If the right people like it, I'll be writing three more of these. So lately, I've turned my reading in this direction, looking for authors who do this kind fast-paced story well - more humor than melodrama.
Then I got an email from a list I probably signed up for at some point but never bothered to unsubscribe from: Pretending He's Mine, one of Lauren Blakely's first books, is free right now. Perfect. I've bought some of Blakely's books, but I probably wouldn't have searched through her backlist without this prompt. Now I will.
If you haven't heard of Lauren Blakely, she's a self-publishing phenomenon. She started in 2013 (I think), toward the end of what many are calling the "Gold Rush" era of self-publishing. Some authors that came out on top during this time were more right place, right time, and some were really good. Blakely? She's really good.
This book is set in New York and uses the faux-engagement-turns-into-more trope: Sutton Brenner is up for the job of her dreams, and she needs a fiancé to pull it off. Enter Reese, talented, sexy actor barely making ends meet. Sutton hires him for a rather unconventional acting job: her pseudo-fiancé for a week. Except this “pretend” relationship, which includes some “practice” action, starts to feel less and less like acting.
We all know where this one is heading, right? But I still had a great time reading it, and I wanted to figure out why. Here’s what I came up with.
Blakely delivers exactly what she promises on the cover and in the book’s blurb: sexy, fast-moving fun. A few twists but no real surprises. Just fun.
Strong, witty dialogue. Truth be told, I have been known to do some skimming when romances get too predictable or when a scene hasn’t caught my attention and I know it’s not essential to the story. In this book, I enjoyed the dialogue enough not to skim.
The story isn’t angst-y. I can enjoy a dose of angst as much as any romance reader, but I get a little weighed down by it, too. This book has no terrible pasts, no hidden secrets, no threats to anyone’s life… and the story still manages to be a high-energy page-turner! That’s a real accomplishment, and I think she does it through plain old good writing. Strong, believable characters, good plot set-up and (see #2) snappy dialogue.
Strong female lead.
Anything more to add? I’m a fan of fun, sexy romance, and Pretending He’s Mine was definitely worth my time.