I was so excited to get my hands on the next Jasmine Guillory book and While We Were Dating didn’t disappoint. The best romance novels are the ones that make me laugh and make me emotional, and this one definitely ticked that box. The central couple really felt like they were made for each other and I couldn’t help but root for them, even though it was frustrating at times! It’s a cute spin on the movie star and ordinary person trope, if you like that kind of thing then definitely pick this book up!
Star rating: 4 stars
Ben Stephens is working in advertising. When his co-workers have a delayed flight, he and his assistant have to give a big pitch to a large tech company. Ben’s not worried – he thrives when presenting and knows his stuff inside and out having done most of the work. But then the talent starring in the ad turns up unexpectedly and it’s an absolutely gorgeous actress, Anna Gardiner. Ben nails his presentation, even after his co-workers turn up and interrupt. Anna is so impressed that she convinces the tech company to take on his company, as long as Ben is the lead executive.
Ben and Anna bond as they work together on set of the ad shoot. Anna is impressed by Ben’s politeness, attention to detail and care for her. Ben is completely enchanted by Anna as they grow closer over the course of the first half of the book. When Anna’s manager sees their chemistry, he suggests Anna fake dates him to increase her publicity so she will be cast as the star in a new movie. Anna, wanting to move on from a couple of terrible years, agrees.
I loved both of these characters a lot. Ben is actually really mature for a guy with a reputation for playing the field – he’s been in therapy for a while and isn’t afraid to tell people, he’s really thoughtful when it comes to Anna, always putting her needs first whether it be to escape the paparazzi or drive her 7 hours in an emergency. Ben has an intuitive understanding of what it’s like for Anna to be famous – he empathises rather than judges. Anna is not your stereotypical superstar, she came to fame rather quickly which has led her to be guarded and anxious. What liked about Anna is even though she is ambitious and determined to get the roles she wants, she doesn’t throw people under the bus to get there. Mental health is a big focus for both characters and I loved the positive approach to therapy and speaking out about it.
There were some parts of the plot that made me uncomfortable, but most were resolved in a way that I was happy with. I really don’t like it when characters lie to each other but fortunately they realised in time that what they were doing was wrong. Both Anna and Ben have strong characterisation so their decisions were on the whole very believable. Mostly, I was just happy to enjoy a cute romance between two characters who clearly thought the world of each other.
Overall, While We Were Dating is cute, funny and a great take on the fake dating trope. I liked the central couple mostly for their honesty and the way they dropped their personas around each other. I think if you like romance novels, especially ones where the characters have a bit of depth to them, then this will be a good recommendation for you!