The Sweetest Charade rewards persistence. I wasn’t very engaged at first and wasn’t sure I was going to have much to say about it, but in the end, Jadesola James pulls off a lovely debut romance.
Delysia, a social media influencer, accidentally tags Professor Alexander Abbot-Hill, of the Long Island Abbot-Hills. in a slightly racy Instagram photo. He asks for a retraction and her agent asks for them to meet because she’s got an idea that could serve them both. Alexander is surprised at the attention he is getting because of the photo and sees value in agreeing to fake a romance with Delysia. It’s a romance, so of course the feelings become real.
Delysia and Alexander are each in their own way, closed off and isolated. Delysia keeps up a façade for protection, and Alexander is living like a relict of his family’s past. Their forced proximity and partnership open them up to parts of life they had shut down. The real romance doesn’t get going until fairly late in the book and not until after they have started to become comfortable with the real people they discovered under their shells. Their individual growth and growth as a couple were lovely and sweet.
One sour note: I wish that she hadn’t chosen to make the only antagonists also the only Korean/Korean American characters. I don’t think this book needed antagonists.
Other content warnings: mild drug use, misogyny directed at the main character, mild drug use, emotional manipulation during a sexual situation, past parental death, parental illness.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.