One of the things my favorite authors have in common is that they love their characters for who they are at any given minute of the story and not because they represent an idea, an architype, or a wish fulfilled. In The Dating Playbook, the second in the Boyfriend Project series, Farrah Rochon loves her characters. She loves her three friends – Samiah, Taylor, and London. She loves Jamar. She lets them feel all their feelings, be indecisive, be sexy, be messy and always worthy of love and respect. Rochon lets us love them until they love and accept themselves the way they deserve to be loved and accepted.
Taylor, a personal trainer, is on the brink of financial disaster. For a variety of reasons, she is about to be sleeping in her car unless she catches a break or accepts help from Samiah and London. She doesn’t want to accept help from Samiah and London. Her break shows up in the form of Jamar, a good looking former football player who was sidelined by an injury. He seeks Taylor out because he wants to try to get back into shape and try for another shot at the NFL, but he doesn’t want to make noise about it. She agrees to train him for two months. It’s the money she needs to buy herself a little time. They are trying to keep his training a secret, so they lie and tell people they are dating. But, of course, they are attracted to each other. Rochon builds their relationship from instant attraction, to respect, to friendship, to love so smoothly, even when Taylor and Jamar are running the other way. Watching Jamar and Taylor realize they are each other’s safe space gave me warm fuzzy feelings.
Sometimes the fake dating got in the way of the relationship Taylor and Jamar were building, and sometimes it felt like the fake dating plot got in the way of the story. But the characters and the banter kept things rolling. I’m looking forward to seeing London get the love and appreciation (and sex) that she needs in the next book.
CW: grief, learning disability, recovery from injury, difficult family relationship.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.