Something I have come to realize about myself is that I am a sucker for a good fake dating story. I thought I was over it. I had watched one too many bad movies where the plot revolved around fake dating, and I was like “NO MORE, YOU TIRED, OVERUSED TROPE! I HAVE OUTGROWN YOU.” Then I read The Wedding Date, and I am *back.*
The premise of the novel is that Drew needs a date to his ex’s wedding. When he gets stuck in an elevator with Alexa, the two hit it off and she agrees to accompany him to the wedding as his fake girlfriend. From there, the two start to develop deeper feelings for each other, and have to learn to navigate the ups and downs of an interracial, quasi long-distance relationship.
Jasmine Guillory knows the difference between using a trope to get the plot rolling, and having a trope make up the entire plot.
Using exactly one (1) trope to define every aspect of a plot can drown out other, more interesting elements of story development. The fake date is part of the plot, but it does not encompass the majority of the story, which I appreciated. Guillory knows how to keep the action moving along. This allows the book to focus less on the fake date, and focus more on Alexa and Drew. Trust me, the more that the book focuses on Alexa, the better it gets.
My favorite thing about this book is the heroine.
Alexa is a total stunner. She’s a passionate bad*ss who balances her career as a mayor’s chief of staff with her personal life. She wakes up every day and tries to better the world around her. She is such a complete character! I feel like we could be friends, if she would deign to have me as her friend.
I love the way that Jasmine Guillory handles the serious and the sweet elements of Alexa and her life. She deserves a pile of writing awards for how well she executed these scenes. Guillory never shies away from mentioning the racism that Alexa has to endure. At the same time, Alexa isn’t down in the dumps for the entire novel. It’s not a story about suffering. She is a radiant and accomplished Black woman who is out to get her happily ever after (Have I mentioned that I just want to be her friend?)!
Sometimes I think non-romance readers think that romance is all about fluff. “Nothing important ever happens in romance novels,” they say. Well, those people are wrong. Romance novels often address trauma. There is a plethora of heavy material contained between the pages of many mass market romance novels. I think that The Wedding Date and Alexa are perfect examples of this. Alexa deals with racism and body issues. Because of Guillory’s writing, and partly because of the romance genre, Alexa’s issues are held up and given space, and she still gets to be happy.
I don’t think the love interest is worthy of the heroine.
I can’t rave as much about the male love interest, Drew, unfortunately. I think that Drew is okay. He’s sweet and he’s a surgeon (oh my!). Despite these qualities, there are two major reasons why Drew is not my favorite hero ever. One reason is that a big obstacle he has to overcome is his commitment issue. I am not a fan of privileged white men who have to deal with commitment issues that have no real depth. When the commitment issue is left at surface level, and there are no compelling reasons for it, I lose my patience a little bit. When their commitment issue is surface level AND their perfect partner is right there waiting for them, my patience thins to the point of non-existence.
The other reason I didn’t feel that close to Drew as a character is that he undergoes no true hardship throughout the book. I think this makes him less sympathetic, and also not compelling. I can’t relate to a character who hasn’t experienced their share of hardship. Not that I wanted him to suffer, I just mean that I can’t sympathize with him.
Obviously, he has trouble relating to Alexa, which is a truth I’m glad Guillory included in the book. There are a few points where Alexa makes him reckon with his white privilege, and he does admit that he has it, but I don’t think that there is ever a point when he truly understands what it means.
Overall, the main characters did have chemistry.
All in all though, Jasmine Guillory did make me believe Alexa and Drew had a lot of chemistry, and made me believe that they could be happy together, which is very important to me. Besides a few moments where I think that Drew is not quite worthy of Alexa, I want them to be together. They are smart and mostly act like adults (with one or two notable exceptions, *cough* Drew I’m looking at you *cough*), which is refreshing.
I recommend this book.