by Farrah Rochon
Series: The Boyfriend Project #1
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon launches a new series about three young women who become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they've all been duped by the same man.
Samiah Brooks never thought she would be "that" girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she's been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other "girlfriends," London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .
For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she's always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there's no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?
I’ve had a lot of issues with reading contemporary romance lately due to, well, *gestures at the world*, but this book sucked me right in. It’s a sexy and funny workplace romance, with a Black heroine and a half-Black, half-Korean hero, and the cat-fishing friend group was an incredible hook.
“Happiness had not been part of the equation when she’d made her plans. The concept was too vague for her to fully grasp it. She felt safer, more in control, when dealing in absolutes. True happiness—whatever that meant—would follow once she finally achieved these concrete items she’d set out to attain.”
For the most part, Samiah is firmly in control of her life. She’s already got the awesome job, downtown condo, and full package Mustang GTE, so the only thing left on her checklist is the man to share her life with. Too bad Austin seems to only have cheating scum – but at least her latest dating failure netted her two new friends, London and Taylor. The three of them pledge to focus less on dating on more on their own happiness, and for Samiah that means finally working on her app prototype. If only she didn’t immediately run into Daniel, the new hire at Trendsetters, who seems to meet every item on “get a man” checklist. But what she doesn’t know is that he’s actually a Treasury Department agent trying to unravel a money laundering scheme featuring the company’s software. Daniel’s used to rolling in to a company, uncovering the bad guys, and then rolling out, no complications or regrets. But from their first meeting, neither Samiah nor Daniel can deny their attraction to each other. Is their relationship worth Samiah putting her dreams on hold, and can it survive Daniel’s lie?
Samiah is, frankly, the definition of life goals. She’s smart, confident, knows her worth, and I would love to go out for a drink with her. I liked that the author didn’t shy away from the realities of being a woman in tech, especially as a Black woman. When Daniel tries to reassure her that she doesn’t have to have everything perfect with her app as it’s just a demo, she reminds him that no, she has to be perfect and better and more, or else she and every other black woman after her will be judged for her imperfections. The secondary characters were amazing, especially London and Taylor. Their meetings and conversations were the highlight of the book for me, and frankly I wanted more of them. In terms of non-supportive female characters, I cackled out loud at Samiah’s coworker Keighleigh (that NAME, y’all) and appreciated how Samiah handled that relationship. I also liked that the book repeatedly emphasized happiness over career ambitions for multiple characters. I know it’s a romance, and yes, it’s great to see characters be able to have it all, but in this case, it was more interesting to watch each character explore the pros and cons of their decisions.
“You’ll see how you like those jogs along the river when the thermometer is nearing three digits.”
“Aw, don’t tell me that.” Daniel groaned. “Just the other day I had to stop in the middle of my run and peel my shirt off.”
Her gaze dropped to his chest. “That must have been nice.” Her horrified eyes shot back up to his face, wide with dismay. “I said that out loud, didn’t I?”
The book is definitely funny and sexy, but I felt like the romance part got shortchanged. Everything happens over the period of a few months while both characters are focused on both their work for Trendsetters and their external projects (Samiah’s app and Daniel’s, uh, actual job). Even during the time they’re spending together physically, they’re still spending the majority of it working. There’s also a confusing time jump of a few weeks during which they go from “ok, let’s date” to actually spending a couple nights a week with each other, and it felt like a missed opportunity for building their relationship.
“It was difficult to grasp just how freeing it felt to tell her truth without fear of being branded a complainer or excuse-maker or any of the other labels people slapped on her when she tried to explain the pressure she’d been under to perform.”
Daniel never really quite meshed as a character for me. He’s sweet, yes, and definitely a cinnamon roll. But the two main character traits I got about him are that he was so supportive of her, from checking in how she felt to giving her foot massages and that he felt guilty about lying to her. It’s all in relation to her, though. It didn’t seem like there was anything else to him besides what he was to her. I also didn’t feel like Daniel groveled enough to make up for his actions during the dark moment. After repeatedly refusing to hear Daniel’s apologies, Samiah basically forgives him with little effort on his part, and while her thought process for why she did that was clear, it just felt too easy for something that could’ve had serious repercussions for her. The epilogue was a little weird, too, as it wasn’t the airtight HEA I expected, but then throughout the book Samiah proved over and over that she moves at her own pace.
Overall, this is funny and sexy, even if I wasn’t sold on the romance, so this is a 3.5 star read for me. Based on the end of the book, I’m guessing Taylor’s story is next, and I will definitely be picking it up.