TITLE: The Fill-In Boyfriend
AUTHOR: Kasie West
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance
FOUND: my Kindle
TIMES READ: 2 (2015, 2017)
READ: 11/21/17 – 11/23/17
RATING: 4/5 stars
This is my second time reading this book, and I found it adorable both times. But fake dating is one of my favorite tropes. The Fill-In Boyfriend is about Gia who gets dumped in the parking lot at her senior prom. After talking-up her college boyfriend for months, she can’t go in empty-handed. Lucky for her, Hayden saw the whole thing go down and agrees to be Bradley for the night. Things work out well enough–at least her friends believe she has a boyfriend. But Gia didn’t expect to actually like her fake date.
What I liked about this book:
- Gia and Hayden being absolutely adorable together. They don’t have much in common–Gia is running for prom queen and Hayden is a big geek–but they click right away. The banter between them is natural and often hilarious. But even knowing each other only hours, Hayden is able to get past Gia’s defenses and glimpse the real her that isn’t trying to impress her friends. I liked that Gia feels she can be herself around Hayden But mostly, it’s just about Gia and Hayden being cute together.
- Slow-burn romance. This probably comes up in most of my reviews. Gia does start crushing on Hayden pretty early (but I can’t blame her when he shows up in a tux on the fly), but it takes them the entire book to figure out what they want. And that sets up some angsty moments that I crave because I’m crazy that way. I also like that when they finally did get together, things don’t change. They keep bantering and being silly with each other.
- The trope. I’m a sucker for fake dating stories. I don’t know why. They all follow the same basic outline, but I love seeing how each author does things. The Fill-In Boyfriend jumps right into the dating without them even knowing each other before that night. Despite being complete strangers, they have a great time at the prom. If they hadn’t been interrupted, I think they would have gotten even closer. But my favorite part is that the trope got a second run later when Bec sets Gia up to be Hayden’s fake date to save him from himself. There was a lot of angst and jealousy going around that party. I live for this stuff.
- I loved that Hayden was an actor which made it easy to slip into his role of Bradley without me worrying half the book that he’d slip up and ruin the cuteness. Plus it was adorable (there’s that word again) how he went all-in while playing Bradley. He didn’t “pretend” to be Bradley, he “became” Bradley. I guess I just love Hayden.
What I didn’t like about the book:
- I guess my main complaint was Gia was too cliche with worrying about being popular and impressing her friends. She was always worried about appearances. I get why authors do it–fitting in is a huge motivator for many kids and works well for the fake dating trope because things are all about appearances. I can say that Gia, at least, has some growth. Eventually, she learns that not everyone is who they appear, including herself. She finds Hayden who introduces her to Bec who teaches her to be herself and realizes she’s holding herself back by clinging to her friends even though she’s known for a while that she’s grown apart from them. Her other redeeming quality for me is that she does try to be friends with Jules. She realizes she’s being petty and selfish and really does try. She’s just not good at communicating with Jules. Of course, Jules doesn’t make it easy. But she tries.
- Gia’s family drove me nuts. There was supposed to be a contrast between Hayden and Bec’s family with their free-spirit mother and Gia’s more conservative parents, but Gia’s parents were robots with zero emotion. I guess you’re not supposed to like them, but it seemed to take forever before the family broke. And then they did a complete 180 which annoyed me more.
In the end, I know a lot of readers don’t like cliches and tropes and predictable plots, but I want cute and silly. I want things to go horribly wrong with lots of angst, followed by people finally getting their act together and fluffy sunshine and unicorns at the end. If that’s your thing, then The Fill-In Boyfriend is a great pick.