The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley Books. 2018.
I adored this contemporary m/f romance! It was exactly the book I needed yesterday, in pretty much every way. Mostly light, with a bit of angst, & a slow tender fall of a romance arc. This has the fake girlfriend so I’m not alone at my exes wedding trope, and centers a long distance relationship that emerges from the fake dating. The meet-cute is wonderful and it really satisfies on the fake dating front.
I fell hard for the heroine, loved her BFFs & how much she got to shine in her competence. I really appreciated the arc with her sister, and with her job, and just enjoyed the ways her friends supported her and encouraged her and loved her and pushed her. I wanted to be friends with her myself. This centers a heroine grappling with career and her sibling relationship, where she has a full set of supports and is hugely competent and the hero is also supportive of her career and her relationships with family and coworkers.
Alexa is fat, and while she has moments of self consciousness about her body, she mostly likes the way she looks and feels confident. She gets her buttons pushed a bit around her body a bit in the story, and I appreciated that while this brought up insecurity for her it didn’t bring up internalized fat hatred. It felt real to me, as a fat reader, the things that brought up her insecurities. I liked also that she mostly didn’t feel insecure about her body with the hero, but that wasn’t perfectly gone either. Again, that felt real. We need lots of diversity in fat rep, and I appreciated the line the author was walking here, it worked well.
This centers an interracial relationship between a white man and a Black woman, and that representation wasn’t incidental, unlike many of the interracial romances I’ve read. (I’m a white reader, so take that into account when reading my thoughts on this.) I liked the approach here, and it’s something I have not seen much of in interracial romances. They talk about race. He takes her into a few mostly white social situations and it’s part of the story and their experience in the space. Racial microaggressions happen from other people and it’s something she talks to him about, pushes him to be honest with her about. They discuss an issue that’s deeply racialized, and also deeply personal for Alexa; he says some ignorant things that reveal his privilege, and she calls him on them. This issue is a thing they circle back around to a few times as their relationship evolves, and each time there’s movement on his part, not just in how he thinks but how he shows up for her and responds to her. Each time, you can see her trusting him more, and also still being wary about how he would respond to having her remind him of his privilege. I appreciated that race was an explicit part of the story.
This has a fairly classic combination of a couple where they both are worried about commitment (though for different reasons), both are wary of being direct and actually talking to each other, and then things fall apart due to a misunderstanding. The conflict isn’t external or especially angsty or huge, but its mostly internal and them getting in their own way and being human. What I liked about it is that I rarely see that kind of romance arc in combination with these other things I really appreciated about the story. And, I really liked the slow building of intimacy and trust within their wariness. I especially appreciated the impromptu moment where they both offer support to each other around difficulties at work that they weren’t quite sure they could ask for from each other.
I know some other reviewers didn’t find the approach to sex in the book effective, but I liked it a lot. We see the build up to sex scenes, including some foreplay, and the story frankly discusses their sex life being positive and hot, but does not show sex on the page, instead often picking up the story after orgasm when the characters are cuddling. It definitely suited me yesterday, as I’d put down another book because I wasn’t up for reading a long sex scene. While it wasn’t an approach I’d encountered before, I found it really effective for showing the emotional arc and vulnerability that came with sex and nakedness and different positions for the characters, especially as the fat heroine had some self consciousness about her body sometimes.
I really enjoyed the slice of life every day aspects of the story, including the way we saw the characters eat together, the wardrobe anxiety, the way the heroine was all about coffee and donuts, the coworker BFF who will not stop giving the hero shit, the constant references to places in the Bay Area. These kinds of details–especially the foodie details–make romances such a comfort to me. It also made me want donuts.
I enjoyed this story, and I am excited for Carlos’ story in The Proposal! I will definitely be looking for more work from this author, and I’m really hoping that Alexa’s friends and sister also get books!
- Fat Black heroine.
- Black secondary characters
- Latinx secondary character
- Black woman author
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Racial microaggressions. Discussion of the white privilege, the criminalization of Black youth, and racism in policing and schooling. Recounting of the way the MCs sibling was impacted by racialized criminalization as a teen. Chubby MC is self conscious about her body, compares her body to thin blonde white women, is concerned that the hero might be masking fat antagonism. References to sex, fade to black after foreplay.
- Source of the book: borrowed it from the San Francisco Public Library.
- I have had no contact with the author.
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Other Relevant Posts and Reviews
- Review of Insert Groom Here, another contemporary wedding-themed m/f romance
- Review of It Takes Two, another contemporary wedding-themed m/f romance
- Review of Better at Weddings Than You, another contemporary wedding-themed m/f romance
- Review of Love on the Tracks, another fake relationship m/f romance
- Review of Like Nobody’s Watching, another fake relationship m/f romance
- Review of One True Pairing, another fake relationship m/f romance
- A list of my favorite fat representation that I read in 2017