“Jasmine Guillory is the undisputed queen of the modern-day romance, and this novel … is yet another jewel in her crown.” — Vogue
What happens when an actress on the rise needs a boyfriend to push her image from A-list to A-list superstar? She picks the guy that’s pitching her the next ad campaign in which she’s featured. Ben Stephens is a junior executive for an ad agency that’s vying for this high-dollar mobile phone ad campaign. Anna Gardiner is the movie star that will be the face of the new phone. When they meet — by coincidence and luck — at Ben’s company’s pitch meeting, Ben falls in lust, and Anna is impressed … and a tiny bit attracted. Let the games begin.
While We Were Dating (Berkley) is the sixth book in the Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory. If you’re already a fan, you’ll remember Ben from the third book in the series, The Wedding Party. He’s always running late to … well, everything. He’s laidback, and he’s a bit of a playboy. But here, readers will also see his vulnerable side as he works his way through his feelings for Anna while dealing with a new-found sibling by his estranged father.
Anna also has issues to work through. For one, she’s a curvy Black woman in Hollywood, which means she’s extra-scrutinized and overly criticized. And since filming wrapped on her last movie, she’s been “in hiding” away from the cameras and the spotlight, dealing with anxiety and depression she wasn’t aware she had. But a role that Anna desperately wants has come up. In addition, the movie she filmed is about to be released, and Anna’s not sure what her character’s fate is in the movie. So, to up her profile as an A-list actress with a major fanbase, she’s got to prove she can garner personal buzz. So why not choose Ben Stephens? He’s handsome, charming and unfazed. A perfect fake boyfriend.
NOTHING’S FAKE ABOUT THE CHEMISTRY OR THE LAUGHS
Readers will love the chemistry between these two, laugh at the crazy antics they get into (with help from big brother Theo and girlfriend Maddie from book three), and live vicariously through this not-so-fake couple as they road trip along the West Coast and walk LA’s red carpet. But what I ultimately loved about this couple was how “real” they felt. If you liked Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series or Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient for the realness of the characters and felt for the struggles they have with mental disabilities and emotional and societal struggles while falling in love, While We Were Dating is for you. Guillory shows characters dealing with parental abandonment, anxiety and depression, and societal pressures of conventional “ideal” beauty. This adds a level of reality to an already entertaining romantic comedy.
But Anna and Ben aren’t just entertaining; they also make a steamy pair. The series has gotten progressively hotter from The Wedding Date with its fade-to-black love scenes to this installment, which is best described as steamy. Readers who have been following Guillory will be prepared for this shift, as her last two books have had at least one open-door love scene.
Overall, While We Were Dating is an excellent romantic comedy that effectively delves into the true-to-life social and mental issues of its main characters.
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