Author: Shellee Marie
Publisher: Self pubbed (February 12, 2022)
Kindle edition, 300 pages
Romance, Adult Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fit
After a scandal threatens her reputation, popular beauty influencer, Alivia Fae, attempts to distract her followers by polling them to pick her date. When they pair her up with a fellow influencer, Moe Gava, he takes notice and asks her out. Unfortunately, she soon realizes he’s not as desirable as he seems online.
Despite her disinterest, when it’s suggested that she and Moe start a fake dating relationship, to keep up engagement with their fans, she begrudgingly agrees. As the plan unfolds, she begins to grow closer to his low-key assistant, Travis. Leading her to re-evaluate what she truly wants to influence her life—love.
Shellee Marie’s debut novel is the first book in her Black Beauty in Love series and is perfect for fans of Amy Lea and Alisha Rai.
I love a fake dating romance with a touch of mistaken identities thrown in. I absolutely fell head over heels for Alivia, a Black woman who was tired of being misled by false claims for beauty products that claimed to be for Black women and failed so she started reviewing the products on social media and eventually started her own product line. There are some really beautiful interactions in this book between Alivia and her followers that I just adored. 5 stars for Alivia!
The plotline with Alivia/Moe/Travis was at times really great, and I love the chemistry between Alivia and Travis. Sometimes it was rather contrived, or some of the things Moe/Travis did were just… kinda of skeevy. I’d be drawn in by their chemistry and then put off by something that came off as just wrong. 3.5 stars for the fake dating goodness.
And then there’s the weirdness with Alivia’s male BFF Dan and his wife Donna. What the heck. It felt like it was going to go a certain way and then sort of bobbed and weaved all over the place. Their relationship was for sure toxic AF and they need couples counseling, stat. I see how it was supposed to contribute to the overall plot, but I feel like Shellee Marie just did Donna really dirty. I don’t love when other women are just blatantly ill-used to make a main character look better. 2 stars for the whole Alivia/Dan/Donna storyline.
Finally, this reads as a bit more women’s fic than romance, as Alivia is dealing with so many things outside of the central couple (and there’s a bit of who is the male lead supposed to be? Moe? Travis? Dan? What’s happening now?) I’d give this 4 stars as a women’s fic novel, but it’s a 3 (still a fun read!) as a romance novel.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.