Are you a fan of stories with the ‘fake relationship’ trope? What about with a romance between two characters that have tangible, passionate chemistry together? Are you a fan of Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date series? Would you love to see an expansion of this world and Guillory’s characters? If so, look no further than her latest novel, While We Were Dating.
When Ben Stephens lands the lead for a huge ad campaign at work, he feels on top of the world. Moreover, this ad will feature Anna Gardiner, a beautiful and lively movie star. When the two of them encounter each other during Ben’s pitch meeting, there is an instant attraction between them.
But Ben is content with casual relationships, his life filled with work projects and family problems. Anna wants to focus on her career and book her next movie that will put her back in the spotlight in time for awards season. When the two of them indulge in mutual flirtation, it’s meant to be harmless fun. However, when Anna experiences a family crisis and Ben is there at the right time, their friendship shifts into something more intimate.
As Anna’s chances at landing her dream film role are impacted by ‘lack of box office draw,’ both she and Ben agree to a fake relationship to build good publicity around Anna. But will Ben remain satisfied with playing the role of a dutiful boyfriend until he is no longer needed? Or, perhaps, will Anna and Ben find exactly what they need in each other?
While We Were Dating is a charming and delightful love story. While that remains the primary focus of the tale, Guillory does not shy away from addressing relevant concerns such as racism, body image issues, and mental health. The commentary is impassioned and thoughtful, and it invokes a lot of inner contemplation on these prevailing issues in modern society.
Jasmine Guillory’s characters are also wonderfully lovable. Ben is a sensitive and intelligent man, confident in his abilities and open with his affection toward his loved ones. Anna is a powerful woman who knows what she wants in life and has a fierce determination to accomplish her goals. Her inner reflection of body positivity is incredibly refreshing and beautiful.
But these characters also have flaws and experience setbacks that only drew me in to like them even more. Ben attends therapy, but struggles to confront his own inner turmoil in his life, such as his estranged half-sister and his growing love for Anna. Meanwhile, Anna, while outwardly exuding assurance and sultriness, suffers from crippling anxiety attacks. She’s even momentarily on board with using and discarding Ben for a chance at her dream job.
The chemistry between Ben and Anna was visible right from the beginning. The instant attraction between them was initially physical, for sure, but their encounters with one another during the ad campaign eventually causes them to grow closer. After that, they are blessed with having an intimate friendship-turned-relationship throughout the novel. Guillory does a wonderful job establishing Anna’s feelings of security around Ben and Ben’s desire to share his tumultuous family affairs with Anna.
Despite them initially believing that their coupling was purely for business (and pleasure), Anna and Ben have a healthy relationship. They get to know each other on a personal level very well, something that many fictional relationships lack. Both of them share their pains and help each other through crises in their family and mental health. Anna and Ben’s relationship is enviable for sure!
Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating is a gorgeous story filled with sizzling chemistry, funny and relatable characters. It’s the celebrity love story that everyone will want in their life.
While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory was published on July 13th, 2021.