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The Dating Plan: the one you saw on TikTok! The fake dating rom-com you need

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The two brothers also have a terrible relationship and are always screaming at each other, and yet, not once in all of those fights did the truth ever come out. Like "I felt abandoned by you" and "I did the best I could to get you and mom out of the house!" No. They have screaming matches, and PHYSICAL fights all the time, but this was never said before???? Curiously numb at the sight of her ex wrapped around her old boss like the most tenacious of invasive species—she’d caught a glimpse of them in the mirror before they’d closed the stall door—Daisy slid a quarter into the disposable menstrual product dispenser. I don’t know why I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did but it was great! The audio was fantastic and the romance was fun – lots of love/hate and forced proximity between the main characters. I love the connection between Sam and Layla but the constant conversation and constant bantering got to me, especially during some heated moments. Further further, the fake dating trope was completely ruined by the main characters TELLING literally everyone besides a few family members they weren’t actually dating. Again, destroying the tension.

Sam specifically has some issues to work through related to an incident of domestic violence and I wasn't bothered by his need to rectify the issues; however, it was frustrating when he was constantly being told to listen instead of talk. And for some odd reason he didn't even do that at the end of the book. It was almost as though he couldn't leave well enough alone and that frustrated me. I get that extinct that people have to protect the ones that they love; however, I don't think how they feel should overshadow the victim. It just didn't sit right with me. And then there was some violence that occurred between a suitor and someone else that was present for that moment in the book and it was almost as if it was glazed over. I wasn't sure what the author was attempting to capture in that moment. But it seemed kind of awkward considering that domestic violence is discussed in this book. So, they do what any couple would do: fake their relationship, plan a wedding, set out to accomplish their objectives, and divorce. Seems easy, right? As Daisy outlines their plan of dates to give credence to their relationship and let Liam meet her family, she’s nothing but business. And this plan does not include sex of any kind. (Yeah, okay.) This book was a reminiscent of a young adult story where there is tons of bantering and excessive chaos. At one point, it was a bit much for me and I had to take a break. Daisy is what you would call “quirky”, but incredibly relatable. It was great being able to see her develop as a character on her own and with Liam by her side. She was able to be her own person without him, which is always great to see.I don't really wanna drag this anymore so I'll just say it right away: The characters are AWFUL! I can't remember disliking any characters I've read this year until this two came along. Look, I enjoy sexy, playful banter okay? I live for them. But the exchange of these two and even their thought process are just.. Because of that detail of cultural influence we also get a high number of characters in the story that can sometimes be tough to keep up with. Plus, we have a high strung main character who’s mannerisms and characteristics in the story was a bit much for me.

I will be cautious about a person who expects me to make all of our dating plans, or to let him/her make all of our plans. As they keep bumping into each other during ceremonies, they finally make a deal. Jay’s mother puts pressure on him to find the one and Zara wants to find more celebrity clients to make her place permanent at her new firm. As Zara finds proper candidates to date with Jay, he’ll invite him to the red carpet events to meet with the celebrities. The Indian rep: I want to applaud the author for giving us the accurate cultural representation we all deserved He'd caught only a few brief glimpses of her without the mask over the course of the day, but he could see her clearly now, an outrageously beautiful woman who vibrated with energy. With her dark hair now an unbound mass of curls falling softly around her shoulders, full mouth curved in a smile, dark eyes sparkling, she was the kind of woman who stirred a man's blood. He couldn't tear his gaze away.”

What Research Says About the Dating Process

One of the cool things about this story is that we get a lot of East Indian culture. The descriptions and detail of foods, clothing, and mannerisms is quite complex. You can almost smell the cooking as you’re reading. These two people have apparently been in love with each other since they were teenagers. Daisy was unpopular and teased in high school and Liam was the hot kid that everyone either wanted, or wanted to be. But apparently he fell in love with Daisy and has held a torch for her for the last decade, though he literally stood her up on prom night and then VANISHED from their lives. He was her brother's best friend, and basically lived at their house for 8 years, but left without a word. The family was furious. But then we find out he did it to save A) his mom from her abusive marriage, and B) to protect Daisy's brother who got into a car accident while high. Liam took the fall and vanished. This is an annoying reason for him to leave. He could have said he was in a car accident without ratting out the brother, he could have explained he has to take his mom somewhere, or that his parents are separating and he has to go with the mom. He didn't have to spill all the beans about either situation. But instead, he just VANISHES. And the brother, knowing ALL ALONG he was just saving his skin, let the family hate his best friend, for a DECADE. Both characters were so realistic, with baggage and issues of their own that they needed to work on, making me feel like I had stepped right into the shoes of the characters. It is realistic romances like these that hit so hard.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this amazingly funny ARC in exchange my honest review. I personally congratulate Sara Desai for her fantastic debut and I cannot wait to read her future works. ( P.S. Please right about Daisy and her adorable dog!) I loved the main characters Layla and Sam and the chemistry between them. They had such great banter and I was rooting so hard for them. I also really liked Sara Desai’s writing style. This is her debut novel but it absolutely doesn’t feel like it is. Additionally, I also really enjoyed learning about Indian culture and I loved Layla’s family so much. They were all such great characters and it was always so entertaining when they all spent time together. The most hilarious parts of this book however were the dates Layla’s father had set up for her to find a suitable husband because each guy was for some reason or another an absolute disaster. Furthermore, Layla is a very outgoing person and seeing her interact with some of her more traditional family members or the date partners who still had a very traditional view of women was so funny. At these depressing, high tension, ill-fated, virus mania days, this kind of LAUGH OUT LOUD novels are the best medicine for our souls! After a devastating break-up, celebrity-obsessed lawyer Zara Patel is determined never to open her heart again. She puts her energy into building her career and helping her friends find romance through the wedding season. She's never faced a guest at the singles table she couldn’t match, until she crosses paths with the sinfully sexy Jay Donovan. The first half of this book was great! This book is steeped in Indian culture and I loved that! It felt cozy and I was living for every mention of jalebi, garam masala and samosas. I loved Layla and I loved that we both agree that dal is the best comfort food and we both make roti when in need of a stress relief.

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So - what was so bad? I mean, I love romance novels. Rom-com, the fake relationship trope - guys, I'm pretty forgiving at the end of the day when it comes to my favorite genre. But this... I think it was just trying too hard. It made everything flop. Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiancés might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.

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