The Wedding Date—Zara Stoneley
Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honor for her best friend's wedding. Only problem is, her best friend is getting married to her ex-boyfriend's brother. Which means, of course, that he will also be there. With his new girlfriend. And Sam has already told her best friend Jess that she's dating someone new. But she's not. What to do, what to do? Oh, I know, hire a perfect stranger to pose as your boyfriend! What could possibly go wrong? Enter Jake, an utter and total and complete and absolute stranger. I'm assuming they end up together, even though they made the whole "don't fall in love with me" pact, but I couldn't actually tell you because I couldn't finish this book.
First off, there are SO MANY BOOKS called The Wedding Date, including one that was just released three months ago (which, to be perfectly honest, is the one I thought I was requesting because I've heard good things about it. That'll teach me to be more thorough before requesting).
Second, this was just terribly full of stereotypes and tropes, I couldn't take it. It was clearly meant to be a romantic comedy in book form, but it fell completely flat for me. Girl who thinks she's fat (though also thinks that losing 8 pounds before the wedding is just about right, so not at all fat); has been dumped by a shitty guy but then can't fathom going to her best friend's wedding alone because in this day and age she can't be honest WITH HER BEST FRIEND and has lied to her and said that she's dating someone new; ex-boyfriend already has a new girlfriend who is "hugely pregnant" and of course the most harping, shrewish woman in existence; has a gay hairdresser who is the most flamboyant gay of all time—seriously, she actually describes several of his actions as "flamboyantly"—and that is literally the only LGBTQ+ representation (I'm not saying there aren't gay men like that because there absolutely are, but it was SUCH a stereotype); hires a guy who seems immediately enamored with her, who can't BELIEVE she doesn't already have a boyfriend, even though she has not one redeeming quality that I can find. He, of course, keeps insisting that she's Not Like Other Girls—you know, that old gem of a trope.
Beyond all of that, the writing was just so not my style. Honestly, there were some incredibly off-color, if not downright inappropriate and disgusting points, but I couldn't tell if they were just culturally acceptable phrases in England and it was just a cultural difference...The character is supposed to be in her mid-twenties (I think) and yet can't even THINK the term "fuck buddy" IN HER HEAD, and has to censor herself. She calls sex "rumpy-pumpy" and explains that her boyfriend was "poking her when he was still with me," referring to her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend. Poking her. I can't.
This is followed shortly thereafter by one of the most vomit-inducing phrases, for so many reasons: "He's been sowing his seed like he was planning on feeding the third-world." (Emphasis mine, obviously.)
I'm sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
And there were huge plot holes as a result of poor development/worldbuilding. (Is it even considered worldbuilding if it's ostensibly set in present day England?) For some reason, her best friend's wedding's festivities are scheduled to take place across a week of time. And then, though there's no back story of this, we find out that Sam and her best friend Jess have been friends since they were little, which is why (conveniently for the attempt at farce that this author is going for) Sam's parents are ALSO invited to the week-long wedding.
The dude that Sam hires, Jake, is an actor. His sister was in the hair salon at the same time as Sam and heard her woes, and offered up her brother, claiming that he always needed money. Yet, when Sam and Jake start discussing a fee structure for the "favor" that he's going to be doing for her (pretending to be her boyfriend), he insists that the money doesn't really matter because his uncle set up a fund for him specifically to support the lifestyle of an actor who might not always get work. So why did your sister seem to think you were desperate for money...?
AND CAN I TELL YOU THAT THIS GIRL GETS A BANK LOAN IN ORDER TO HIRE THIS GENTLEMAN?! I don't know how they do things on the British Isles, but here that would be considered fraud. Like, legally speaking. I don't care how desperately single you are, I do not believe you would be desperate enough to commit fraud.
There may be people who would enjoy this one, but it's really just not for me.
You know what you could do instead of reading this rage-inducing book? Watch The Wedding Date with Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney. Similar premise, infinitely better. And much less creepy winking.
Thanks (I think?) to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.