I’ve now read this book twice and gave it 4 stars each time. I didn’t review it the first time around, so here we go.
As I’ve written before, Jae is a consistently good writer, who creates nice and endearing characters. I’ve found some of her books a tad formulaic, but they’re never boring, and I never felt I’d wasted time on them. So it’s safe to say that if I had completely forgotten about this book, it’s because my memory works in mysterious way, not because it’s not worth reading or anything. I wouldn’t give it 4 stars if it was bad, would I?
Just for Show is a sweet and often funny romance, set in the same universe as Jae’s Hollywood series. Claire’s life seems perfectly on track: she’s engaged to her girlfriend of seven years, gets on okay with her family (except for her sister, Steph, who now also has her own romance novel, The Roommate Arrangement, which I reviewed a few days ago) and is about to sign a publishing contract for her self-help book on relationships. It all comes crashing down when her fiancée breaks up with her minutes before their engagement party. Not only is Claire left to deal with their guests, everything she thought she knew is called into question. Is she really competent as a couples therapist when she had no idea her own relationship was failing? And will her publisher be willing to bet on a single author? Enters Lana, an out-of-work actress, who agrees to act as Claire’s pretend girlfriend. As with most good fake romance novels, Lana is Claire’s complete opposite. She’s fun and messy, curvy and easy-going. Claire likes everything to be done in a certain way and Lana’s ways clash with her OCD. Yet they become friends and both fight their attraction to the other. Until they stop fighting it.
Fake romances usually go the same way, and it’s not the story itself that’s important, nor the HEA, but the way the author gets there. The chemistry has to be built up progressively, the romance needs to grow in unexpected ways. And the reasons for the fake relationship need to be believable all along, not feel artificial. Jae did a pretty good job at all these. There are very cute scenes and moments in this story and some rather sexy ones too. All in all, Just for Show is a very enjoyable and heart-warming read. Hence the 4 stars.