Her Fake Boyfriend
by Shelli Stevens
Release Date: June 23, 2022
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #2 in the Bro Code series
Number of pages: 212
Source: ARC from publisher
Ages 15 and up
CW: stalker, abduction, gun use
Thou shalt not sleep with thy friend’s ex…
Eric Nordland has been in love with his best friend’s girl since he met her. And now that she’s single, the temptation to make a move is killing him. Especially since their paths keep crossing. Dating your friend’s ex is a big bro code violation, but when Hannah comes to him in trouble, there’s no way he’ll leave her to fend for herself.
Coming out of the only romantic relationship she’s ever known, Hannah Jeong isn’t really looking for a rebound. But when the creepy parent of one of her students starts to stalk her, she jumps at Eric’s offer to pose as her fake boyfriend. What she didn’t expect was to start having feelings for a man she’d always seen as just a friend.
The line between right and wrong becomes fuzzier by the day as the attraction between them grows. Keeping Hannah safe from an obsessive man is just as much Eric’s mission as not giving his heart to a woman he can never have.
This is a super quick read. I enjoyed the story a lot, although the writing was not up to what I was expecting after reading the first story in this series. In some ways, I liked this storyline more. Yet, with the inconsistencies I just got taken out of the story over and over.
First of all, Hannah and Eric have great chemistry. That was obvious when we saw them briefly in the last book, Losing It. This story starts off with Hannah having dinner with her ex-boyfriend’s sister and, to me, that was a smart move. Through their interaction we are shown that Hannah is in no way the “bad guy” in the break up. In fact, her ex was the cheater and she dumped him. Problem is, the two had been dating since middle school and it’s hard for everyone to see them as separate entities. They’d grown apart over the last few years but neither had wanted to do anything about that until him kissing another woman prompted Hannah to do what needed to be done. Her ex, James, thinks he’s still in love with her. She knows, his friends know, everyone knows, it’s more of her being comfortable for him. The don’t know anything different. It’s hard for James to give up the plan he’s had for most of his life.
Hannah and Eric don’t set out to hook up. In fact, it’s been over 6 months since they’ve seen each other when they run into each other a few times in one week. One of those times, Hannah is in an uncomfortable situation with one of the dads of a student of hers and Eric quickly catches on and plays her boyfriends to get the guy to back off. This sets things in motion for the two of them to start seeing more of each other and falling in love. It also sets in motion that creepy dad’s obsession and Hannah being stalked.
All of these things about the story are great. The thoughts and doubts Eric has while falling hard for his best-friend’s ex. Hannah’s determination to move on. But there are many holes or things that just don’t make sense. It occurred in the first story but didn’t seem quite so odd, but I just don’t see how this group of friends doesn’t all know each other. It became even stranger in this story. Right off the bat Kristen (the FMC from the 1st book) doesn’t get the MMC’s name right even though he’s best friends with both her brother and her boyfriend. Hannah doesn’t seem to know or have ever truly met the women her ex kissed even though she’s Kirsten’s best friend. It just doesn’t make sense. She was dating James for over half of her life and she somehow never met his sister’s best friend? But the worst one was Eric saying he was from Ohio and moved to Seattle for college, then later saying he’s had the same Taekwondo master since he was 10??? It annoys me when nobody is paying enough attention in the process of publishing the book to make sure the facts are correct throughout the story. Accidents happen, things are missed, I get that. But when it happens over and over I feel it’s more about being sloppy than an accident.
One last thing that put the nail in the coffin for me. There is gun use and mention of firearms in this story. I myself am a responsible gun owner so don’t come at me about me not understanding. I’m not going to get into a lecture here, although I could. But I will say that I find it extremely irresponsible that, in the year 2022, there is a character that has a secret gun. Not only does he bring a gun into someone else’s home without their knowledge, he has also been living with roommates for years who had no idea he had a gun in their home. I cannot express to you how much that ticked me off. (And did not fit the character’s personality.) This should not be written as though this was okay. There should have been repercussions and discussions once it was discovered. Regardless of his reasons, there is no excuse for that behavior and I hate to see it in a contemporary story and not addressed at all.
While there was a lot I liked about this story and I’m sure I’ll even read the next in this series (I really need to see the HEA that comes from the enemies to lovers story going on in this series), I had to knock my rating down due to the irresponsible gun handling and the inconsistencies in the story.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**