Wednesday, 15 July 2020

#CBR12 Book 43: "The Boyfriend Project" by Farrah Rochon

Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars

#CBR12 Bingo: Fresh Start (the beginning of a new series, AND my first book by this author)

I got a free ARC of this on Netgalley in return for an unbiased review. I also liked the book enough that I have now paid money to own it.

Samiah Brooks is getting ready for a date, while her pregnant sister reads her hilarious updates from another woman's disastrous first date on Twitter. Samiah is mortified to discover that not only is the man she's getting ready to meet at that very moment seeing another woman, but they're at the very restaurant he took Samiah on their first date. She storms over to confront the creep, and during the confrontation, a third scorned woman appears as well. The three women take turns telling their cheating companion what they think of him, then go off together with take-away sushi (paid for by the three-timing scum) to get drunk. The morning after, they nurse their hangovers, promise to keep in touch, and discover that their confrontation with the dude has gone viral in a major way.

Samiah, London and Taylor decide that they are swearing off men and working on themselves for the next six months. Only then will they give the dating scene another chance. Samiah is finally going to develop the app she's been thinking about for years, and if it weren't for the new hire at her work, the handsome and charming Daniel Collins, her vows to stay single would be easy to uphold.

Daniel Collins is a federal agent, trying to figure out who at Samiah's tech company is funnelling funds for money launderers. He's working undercover as a computer programmer, and while he normally has no problems staying objective and focused on the task at hand, he's smitten with Samiah the first time he sees her. The more time he spends with her, the more blown away he is by her intelligence, her drive, her passion for helping other women of colour succeed in her field. It's always nice to see the protagonists of a romance fall for more than the other person's looks, and in this book, both leads are extremely good at their jobs and professional to the point that it might get in the way of the romance.

I thought the book was a bit slow to get started, and in the beginning, more focus is given to Samiah's new friendship with London and Taylor than in building her relationship with Daniel. However, neither of the women clearly have a big support network and so desperately need each other, and it was really encouraging to see three women who may have seen each other as rivals instead embrace their found sisterhood and support and build each other up, rather than tearing one another down. Support from other women is especially important to Samiah, as, in order to be seen as a good colleague and a valuable team player at work, she keeps having to keep her mouth shut about a scheming female co-worker repeatedly taking credit for her work (there is a very satisfying scene later in the book where Daniel steps up and defends Samiah during a presentation, and the other woman is called out most deservedly).

There is a strong element of competence porn to this book, both protagonists are career-minded and very good at what they do. There is an instant physical attraction between them, but they are both reluctant to act on it right away (Daniel because he knows his assignment is temporary and he'll have to keep lying to Samiah about his true identity, Samiah because she's sworn off dating and men for the next six months). So they spend time getting to know one another, starting with work lunches and the occasional hike, before eventually giving in and taking the relationship to the next level. For readers who want a lot of *insert funky bass line here*, be aware that it takes more than half the book before the couple gets to that point, the focus on this book isn't exactly on the physical.

I've previously mentioned in reviews that romances, where one or both of the protagonists are lying to or deceiving the other, makes it harder for me to like them. In this case, Daniel is working undercover, and it's part of his job not to reveal his true identity or motives to anyone at Samiah's company, and therefore it didn't bother me. He's not doing it out of self-serving reasons. The closer they get, the worse he feels about having to continue his deception and the steps he has to take to use Samiah to achieve his goals. He does some quality grovelling to make up for it, even though (unbeknownst to him), she's pretty much forgiven him already, as he was doing an important job and making sure some very bad people were brought to justice.

This is my first Farrah Rochon novel, and based on the epilogue, I'm assuming that Taylor is the next heroine we'll read about. I am absolutely going to check out the next two books in the series, and will also be looking into Rochon's back catalogue.

Judging a book by its cover: I'm still of two minds about the animated cover trend, but this is a really nice example of it. The bright colours, the suggested text bubbles, the cute couple, with the woman very appropriately holding a phone front and centre. Based on this cover, I would have given the book a second look, even if I hadn't been granted a free copy on Netgalley.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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