I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Released: December 14 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
“Cosplay competition meets fake dating and friends-to-lovers; all the elements of a good story.”~ Under the Covers
Cosplay competition meets fake dating and friends-to-lovers; all the elements of a good story.
Kenya dreams of really building up her cosplay costume-design capabilities into a full-time job. But her parents want her to get a job using her engineering degree. After a chance of a lifetime, Kenya ends up as a finalist on the Cosplay or No Way reality competition show. But for the final challenge, the judges want the contestants to make iconic pairs costumes, ideally with their significant others. Kenya ends up announcing that her best friend Cam is her partner on national television, so thank goodness he agrees to be her fake boyfriend for the show. But what happens when they start pretending together all the time?
First off, this story has so many of my favorite elements. I love fake dating stories, especially when it also involves friends-to-lovers. The show puts Kenya and Cam in a position to have moments of touching and kissing for the cameras and discovering they might actually like having those moments off camera too (with lots of pining, some of which is mutual). I liked the forced proximity of making sure to spend all their time together and seem like a serious couple for the show’s producers. I also enjoyed the cosplay creative aspect and seeing how Kenya thought through approaching challenges for the show and for Cam’s store. The book also gave readers a snapshot of the microaggressions Black women, especially when they’re also plus-size, face when put into competition environments or in the public eye (or probably really anywhere, unfortunately).
Now for the things I didn’t love as much. The conflicts in this book were super annoying. It was really frustrating to watch supposed long-time best friends refuse to communicate with each other. Some of the other people in Kenya and Cam’s lives who should have been supportive also weren’t (trigger warning: parental criticism). I want to see the couple work through challenges that aren’t made by aggressive disappointment and the self-doubt it creates. At least seeing them handle terrible show fans and judges provided a bit of that.
Overall, I think this is a pretty fun read that gives a new take on the fake dating, friends-to-lovers trope. I don’t know much about cosplay, but it was fun to get a glimpse of that world through this book. If you like either the tropes or cosplay, then I definitely think you should check this story out!
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