The only thing better than a perfect fairytale meet-cute is the kind of meet-cute that is not supposed to be a meet-cute at all, when the sparks and the affection are all supposed to be for show—until the sparks start flying for real. The Fake Dating Trope is so powerful because it keeps everyone guessing. Here are our favorite fake dating books that kept us on our toes!
9 Books That Perfectly Depict the Fake Dating Trope
1. Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon
Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.
2. Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in Gloria Chao’s Rent a Boyfriend, an incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results.
3. Glimpsed by G.F. Miller
Charity is a fairy godmother. When Charity glimpses the deepest desires of her classmates, she makes it her mission to help them achieve these dreams, and Charity always gets the job done, even if she has to magically nudge someone along the way. But when adorkable Noah blackmails Charity into helping him win one of her old clients back, she begins to question everything. An unexpected part of the plan? A fake relationship between Charity and Noah. Can this fairy godmother get her own happily ever after? Glimpsed by G.F. Miller is perfect for fans of Geekerella and Jenn Bennett.
4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Girl likes boy. Girl writes letter to boy. Girl hides the letter in a hat box NEVER to be sent. Right? Not if Kitty Song has anything to do with it. The hit To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series opens with a fake dating scheme for the ages—after Lara Jean’s secret love letters get sent out to all the boys she’s ever crushed on, she decides to enter a mutually beneficial plan to fake-date high school golden boy Peter Kavinsky.
5. 10 Things I Hate about Pinky by Sandhya Menon
Pinky Kumar is a social justice warrior with pride; there is no cause too esoteric for her to champion, and she loves to make her conservative corporate lawyer parents cringe. The highlight Pinky’s year is always a lazy summer at Cape Cod, but after being pestered by her parents about her poor life decisions, especially in the boyfriend department, Pinky hatches a plan to get her sorta-friend-sorta-enemy Harvard-bound Mama’s boy Samir Jha to pose as her boyfriend for the summer. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky is a must-read from When Dimple Met Rishi author Sandhya Menon!
6. Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Iron opens with Cordelia Carstairs seemingly having everything she’s ever wanted—engaged to her childhood love James Herondale, about to be reunited with her beloved father, and in possession of the legendary hero’s blade of Cortana. But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s engagement is a ruse and James is in love with someone else. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it. And Cordelia’s father has grown bitter and angry. To make matters worse, a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London.
7. All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick
In the Pretty Little Liars-esque psychological thriller All Eyes on Us, Rosalie Bell is in a fake relationship with Carter Shaw—but Carter doesn’t know this. Rosalie is happily in love with her girlfriend and will do anything to keep her identity a secret from her Christian fundamentalist parents. To make matters more complicated, Carter is dating Rosalie unbeknownst to Amanda, a social climber who thinks Carter is her perfect boyfriend. And then Rosalie and Amanda start getting texts from an anonymous blackmailer who forces the girls to take Carter down, and sacrifice themselves as collateral damage…
8. Analee in Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Anti-social Gamer Girl Analee Echevarria’s life gets turned on its head in Analee in Real Life when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous. Analee hopes the experience will help her connect with her actual crush, her online partner-in-crime, Harris. But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the world.
9. Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
When hopeless romantic Liz Buxbaum’s childhood crush moves back to town in Lynn Painter’s Better Than The Movies, Liz is determined to secure a perfect rom-com-worthy promposal from Michael. Unfortunately, Michael only sees her as “Little Liz,” and Liz’s only connection to him these days is that he is close friends with Liz’s nemesis-next-door, Wes. So Liz must make a bargain with Wes for his help to win Michael’s heart, and obviously, this results in an instant-classic fake dating runaround, along with a slew of other rom-com-worthy moments.