Faking It by Christine d'Abo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Riptide Publishing rarely steers me wrong when I want a little romance in my reading, and Christine d'abo's Ringside Romance series is one of my favorite Riptide discoveries. Working It, book one in the series, hooked me immediately as solid entertainment, with great characters, smooth pacing, and an engaging storyline. Those qualities continue here in book two, and Faking It is an excellent continuation of this delightful and delicious series.
Max, though only a minor character in Working It, was one of my favorites, and I was thrilled to see him get his own story. His nurturing nature, warm personality, and snarky sense of humor are all in excellent form here, and d'Abo pairs him with the perfect romantic foil -- Grady Barnes, failed reality TV star and the spoiled and troubled scion of wealth and privilege who needs an emergency fake fiancé to help escape his father's control of his life. Max needs money to help fund Ringside, and Grady's crazy offer might be the opportunity he needs to make a difference, and to escape the rut his life has become.
It definitely isn't smooth sailing to happily ever after, but the trip is a good one, with a strong storyline, fabulous protagonists, and great supporting characters (Justin, Grady's long-suffering handler, deserves his own book!) and a great blend of emotion and sexiness to keep the reader engaged and interested. Max and Grady's chemistry, both physical and emotional, is delicately crafted, and their shared legacy of troubled family relationships serves as a nuanced backdrop as both men seek to figure out themselves so they can figure out each other. Christine d'Abo is great not only at character development but at the highs and lows of relationships, and she takes her characters, and the reader, on a journey that is hilarious, sexy, and emotionally real as flawed people try to find those moments of connection that change I to we.
Zach and Nolan, the dynamic duo of Working It, both make minor appearances, reinforcing their own happily ever after, and the stage is set for the appearance of the mysterious Eli, the third member of Zach and Max's childhood boxing group, who is mentioned but as yet unseen in the series. I admit, I'm ridiculously excited for the next chapter in this series.
Advanced reader copy received from NetGalley.
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