Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 10, 2018
Buy on Amazon
Get ready for your next favorite romantic comedy, THE REAL DEAL! April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn't been on Craigslist 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 Craigslist 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?
“My heart jumps, and I want to warn it to settle down. But hearts don’t listen to heads. When have they ever?”
I was on the edge of sleep last night, but I decided I’ll just read a chapter – dip my toe in to see if this was one of those review books that was going to be a breeze, or one that I would need some discipline to get through…ahem, I’m looking at you stack. Cut to me still not sleeping at 4 AM because I couldn’t put The Real Deal down until I was all the way finished. It is the epitome of why I love romance books. It’s got the bizarre and implausible meet-cute that only works on screen or page but that you secretly hope could happen to you in real life (although I don’t intend to sift through Craigslist ads for love any time soon). Then there is the delicious and excruciating tension that builds on for page after page to the point you’re like a tea kettle by the time the main characters kiss for the first time, boiling over with anticipation. And then the best part, the heartwarming and satisfaction of a truly happy ending, the kind where the characters and the reader gets everything they all hoped for. This book hit all the check boxes for a solid contemporary romance. It made me laugh and sigh, made me smile and blush – hell, it even made me want to look up my “one who got away” on Facebook around 2 AM and recast us in the MCs shoes. Luckily stronger minds and an engrossing plot prevailed on that last one.
“His eyes are softer now, and the jealousy seems to have vanished. My heart sinks the tiniest bit. I should be glad he’s no longer perturbed. But the traitorous heart flapping around in my chest found his jealousy appealing. Hearts are such dumb organs. That’s why I’m glad whatever I’m feeling won’t matter in the end – this is all pretend, and it’s precisely what I ordered on Craigslist.”
The Real Deal reminds me of why Lauren Blakely holds a special author status for me. It’s reminiscent of Wanderlust, The V Card, and The Knocked-Up Plan, all of which hit the same criteria as above, and all of which I devoured in one sitting and loved. It’s that not too over the top plot that teases the edge of reality, the relatable but far from generic characters that are easy to slip into – even when you’re not an ex con, a perfume designer, a lingerie aficionado. The shifting POVs not only make you bond with the characters, but they leave you with these universal truths. Everyone has insecurities, pasts, and ultimately just wants to be loved as they are, even the boyfriend for hire. With another five-star read, Blakely has secured her spot on my “when in doubt” list. I know that I’ll always get a reliably decent read, and sometimes I’ll get the real deal. I know, I tried to avoid the pun but we can all blame my glorious lack of sleep and swoony brains for the extra cheese.
“I want to keep creating stories to tell. Real stories of us.”
P.S. Sign me sooooo up for Katie and her hottie soldier coming home from duty sequel. I know it was like a single paragraph, but I need more. LB, please. Please!