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The Dating Dilemma by Mariah Ankenman

The Dating Dilemma

by Mariah Ankenman

The Dating Dilemma is a fun, sexy contemporary romantic comedy about learning to ask for the things you need in life. Lexi is on a six month break from dating, because her boyfriends always take advantage of her giving personality. But when a hot fireman turns up to perform a safety inspection at the youth centre where she is the Assistant Director…well, even if one isn’t dating, one can enjoy looking.

Dylan, the hot fireman in question, has sworn off relationships after his fiancée cheated on him with his best friend. But his sisters are worried about him, and he hates to disappoint them almost as much as he hates the idea of them setting him up on surprise dates, so a fake relationship is in order. And who better to ask than the pretty youth centre director who mistook him for a strip-o-gram?

This is a classic ‘fake-relationship, we definitely aren’t going to fall in love, but also, we find each other really hot, so let’s have a fling to get it out of our systems!’ narrative. I know exactly how this is going to go, but I am nonetheless totally along for the ride, because it’s fun. Lexi and Dylan are both lovely people, the chemistry between them is VERY hot, and I was happy to spend time with them.

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What really made this book work for me was the relationships surrounding the protagonists. Dylan has a close and loving relationship with his sisters, and his co-workers are like a second family to him. Lexi’s flatmate is her best friend, and she has an affectionate, nearly sibling-like relationship with him and his partner, as well as warm relationships with her colleagues and the children who use the youth centre. This made for a really cosy book – there were no bad guys in this story, just two kind, caring people, trying to sort their shit out with a little help from their friends and families.

I also really liked the theme of facing one’s fears that came up later in the book, and the way that those fears didn’t simply go away, but were easier to manage when the people you love are beside you.

I only had two small quibbles. One is that the humour in this book is often about embarrassment – this can be a dealbreaker for me, and this story took me close to the edge of that at times. Also, Lexi and Dylan spent a LOT of time worrying about what each other would think if they confessed their feelings, because heaven forbid they actually have a conversation! This is, I suspect, emotionally realistic for most of us, but it did get frustrating at times.

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I had a really good time reading this book. It was sweet and low-stress and hot, with just a little bit of food for thought to take away with me – just right for a summer holiday read.

Catherine Heloise

Lexi’s Reminders

* Work.

* Don’t think about your birthday tomorrow. Or debt, your crappy apartment, and nonexistent social life.

* Re-stock wine and ice cream because that’s coming.

* Die in a raging blaze of humiliation when the super-hot and very delicious fireman waiting in your office is not in fact the strip-o-gram birthday present you suspected.

* Reschedule the fire safety inspection you 100 percent failed because of said humiliation.

* Figure out how you, in fact, agreed to fake dating Mr. Not a Strip-O-Gram Fireman to help him with a bet.

* Oh yeah, and do not fall for this guy. Seriously, they call him One Night O’Neil. Red flags all over the place.

* Remember, this is fake dating, even though his very talented, very real lips are doing some sexy things you definitely like.

* Realize bending one tiny rule can’t be that bad, can it?

* Except bend too far, and something breaks. Something you can’t get back.

Contemporary Romance, Romance
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