Faking It by Christine D’Abo (Ringside Romance)

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The first book in this series, Working It, I reviewed on the blog in February calling it ‘one the best romance books I’ve read this year’ so as you can imagine, I was very excited to get my hands on Faking It, especially since it was about Zach’s friend Max, who runs the gay bar Frantic.

But. This was just. No. Not for me.

My main problem with it was the absolute change in tone – which, look, is fine, but just rubbed me up the wrong way here. Working It was a workplace romance with a stressed out boss and anxiety ridden assistant. It was very grounded in reality and dealt wonderfully with a romance featuring a character with anxiety. Faking It features Max pretending to be a rich boy reality tv star’s fiancée, so he’s not forced into an arranged gay marriage for business. I mean, what?

It was just so far removed from Working It, that I never really got into it. I mean, I didn’t expect it to cover the same topics, but it was such a shift that it threw me. Despite this, I liked Max and Grady, although, strangely, I think I liked Max more in his supporting role in Working It, than I did in this. I liked the emphasis on father-son relationships, and the prickly problems they can cause, but overall, this book didn’t really work for me. I stayed up late to finish it, and then thought to myself that I should’ve gotten the sleep instead.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book. It’s a pretty solid romance, I suppose though it’s the trope that just throws me – I like my romance believable, and though D’Abo does try her best, and it very nearly works, it doesn’t completely for me. That said, I absolutely will read the next two in the series, as I enjoy the shared setting of Ringside (especially since it’s getting more prominent in each book). Do give it a go if the blurb tickles your fancy, but ultimately this just wasn’t for me.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Working It by Christine D’Abo

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One the best romance books I’ve read this year.

My first by Christine D’Abo – I was kinda glad that I just read the description and saw the cover and requested it through NetGalley based on that, as she’s a lot of kinky dom/sub books which I wouldn’t read that would’ve probably tarred me against this, rather unfairly.

This was a flawless romance. Strong, well-written characters, clear arcs, good supporting characters, realistic problems.

Nolan suffers dreadfully from anxiety after a car crash that resulted in PTSD. It impacts all aspects of his life, but he is still a bright, confident, attractive young man.

Zack is an asshole – almost everyone in the book calls him one, including himself – but not in a boring Christian Grey dominant way. An astute and dedicated businessman, he has anger issues and somewhat realistic expectations on people. He takes a chance on Nolan, his first male assistant, as he’s been burning through his assistants at about one a month, and has been told off by HR for it.

What follows is a great workplace romance. They are both complicated men, but their lust, and love, is remarkably simple, and grounding for both of them. They fight it, of course – one is the other’s boss – but there is something beautiful about their relationship.

Beautifully written, with a very sure hand on the wheel, D’Abo’s well-crafted prose looks effortless. I’m even tempted to dip my toe in her kinkier romances, due to her way with words.

The subtitle, A Ringside Romance, is interesting. Ringside was a boxing club that Zack attended as a teenager, that had a boxing program for LGBTQ teens, something that helped that often furious Zack channel his anger in a healthy way. Zack wants to reopen it, and reinstate that program. This introduces a whole world of possible romances that D’Abo can write, which excites me greatly (although I suspect – and hope – that the next Ringside Romance will feature this book’s supporting character, Max, owner of the nightclub Frantic. UPDATE: I was right!).

A perfect romance that had me zip through it, and left me eager for the next installment. Recommended.