Monday, January 31, 2022

Book Review: Is This for Real?

By Sara Steven

Love is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Usually me. I admit it, I’m a relationship-recluse. Ironic, given that I write romantic comedies. So, I’m on a sabbatical from dating.

Which is why fake dating my best friend Rory is foolproof. Rory suggested it because he needed a date for work functions. And I can use our experiences as fodder for my romcom novel. Plus, my sister doesn’t know it’s not real and she is thrilled that I’m not walling myself off emotionally. Her words, not mine. But I do wish she would stop saying that she always suspected there was something more between me and Rory. She should realize that we’ve been friends forever so I’m immune to his appeal.

We would never work. Rory is such a romantic; he still believes in that perfect love similar to his parents’ marriage. My parents fought bitterly. So, we are better off as friends. I can’t risk losing our friendship, even if this might be my chance—before his ex-girlfriend wins him back.

Those flickers of attraction? Easily extinguished by cold water reality—like a two-mile hike in drenching rain over sand with wheelie luggage.

But our relationship is not sticking to the plot—or is it? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Is This For Real? was funny and charming, particularly with the premise behind Penelope and Rory’s friendship turned pseudo romantic relationship. In that respect, it reminded me a little of the movie The Wedding Date, where Debra Messing’s character hires someone to act as though he’s her boyfriend in order to appease her family. Initially, that’s what Penelope asks for, too. For Rory to step up and pretend to be more than just her friend, to get her through some awkward and uncomfortable moments. Rory ends up needing that kind of help from Penelope, too, initiating the start of a beautiful pretend relationship where the lines begin to blur and Penelope isn’t always sure where the acting begins, and the realism begins. 

The way Rory is written, it would be hard not to fall for him. He’s Penelope’s best friend, not to mention a great guy who has always been there for her when she’s needed him. But while they’ve both dealt with some pretty hard-hitting stuff during the length of their close friendship, they’ve never had to deal with it while romantically involved, and that could certainly change the viewpoint of things. It’s a big reason that Penelope isn’t sure if she should entertain the idea of being more than friends with Rory, or keep things safe, the way it’s always been.

Not to mention the other potential relationships on the periphery; it seems there’s always someone waiting in the wings for Rory, and Penelope had once declared her feelings to someone she considered a close friend, and it ended horribly. It’s hard to know what to do, and how to do it in such a way where no one’s heart will get bruised. 

Is This For Real? reminded me of how tough it can be to put yourself out there, and how much you can gain (or sometimes lose) by doing so. It was an enjoyable experience, and a side note: I thought some of the subjects in the book were really interesting; I didn’t know much at all about miniatures before reading about them in this story, and even how that’s incorporated along with Penelope’s writing was pretty fascinating!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:

Kathy Strobos is a writer living in New York City with her husband and two children, amid a growing collection of books, toys and dollhouses. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Harvard-Radcliffe University magna cum laude, and Columbia Law School. She spent two semesters abroad at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. She previously worked as a lawyer. She left law to pursue her dream of writing fiction full-time and getting in shape. She is still working on getting in shape.

Visit Kathy online:

Visit all the stops on Kathy's blog tour:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.


Kathy S. said...

Thanks so much for your review!

Giulia Skye said...

I really enjoyed this book, and I loved Penelope and Rory, they're such lovely characters. This was a fun story.