Review: Playing House – Ruby Lang

Review: Playing House – Ruby LangPlaying House
by Ruby Lang
Series: Uptown #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 12, 2019
Genres: Romance
Pages: 113
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Romance blossoms between two city planners posing as newlyweds in this first in a bright new series by acclaimed author Ruby Lang

The last thing Oliver Huang expects to see on the historic Mount Morris home tour is longtime acquaintance Fay Liu bustling up and kissing him hello. He’s happy to playact being a couple to save her from a pushy admirer. Fay’s beautiful, successful and smart, and if he’s being honest, Oliver has always had a bit of a thing for her.

Maybe more than a bit.

Geeking out over architectural details is Oliver and Fay’s shared love language, and soon they’re touring pricey real estate across Upper Manhattan as the terribly faux but terribly charming couple Darling and Olly.

For the first time since being laid off from the job he loved, Oliver has something to look forward to. And for the first time since her divorce, Fay’s having fun.

Somewhere between the light-filled living rooms and spacious closets they’ve explored, this faux relationship just may have sparked some very real feelings. For Oliver and Fay, home truly is where their hearts are.

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4 stars icon contemporary icon m/f romance icon

Just like the cover shows, this is a cute and humorous novella about two thirty-something urban planners finding love among NYC architecture.

“I think you might be the most driven person I know.” Then, thinking it sounded cold or off-putting somehow, he hastily added, “That’s a compliment, by the way.”

After her divorce, Fay has little time for anything other her work as a partner at an urban planning firm. So it’s just her luck that when she finally decides to get out and enjoy a house tour, she gets cornered by a creep and has to enlist the help of Oliver, an old friend, to pretend to be her boyfriend so the guy leaves her alone. Oliver and Fay reconnect, and as one thing leads to another, they end up on a series of dates revolving around historic architecture.

This is pretty short – only 113 pages – so there’s not much room for the relationship to really grow. A lot of it is built on remembered experiences from college rather than things than happen in the present day. The fake dating thing is a bit odd. They only pull that out for the initial meet-cute and then again when touring apartments they have no intention of buying, which felt a bit off to me (as well as the fact that they basically go for third-base during a house showing). The main conflict of the story revolves around the fact that Oliver has applied for a job at Fay’s firm, but Fay isn’t aware of it. At several points, Oliver considers discussing it with her, but he never brings it up for one reason or another. I didn’t like this part of the book at all – it verged too close on outright lying, one of my personal pet peeves – and Oliver knows exactly how badly Fay would take it if (when!) she finds out. There is the excuse that Fay refuses to talk about their jobs, as her ex was particularly defensive about talking about his and outright dismissive when she talked about hers. I loved that Fay was a very successful woman, though it was something that her ex deeply resented. I also loved how upfront she was with Oliver about exactly what she wanted in a relationship. After he lost his job when the firm he worked at folded, Oliver has been doing contract work and living with his brother. He feels like a failure, especially compared to Fay. I loved Oliver’s brother Nat, and he absolutely stole the scenes he was in.

Overall, while I had my quibbles with the main plot device, I liked the writing and the humor, and will probably pick up the next in the series.

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