Summary (from the publisher): Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…
Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?
But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.
When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
I just started reading Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date companion series last year. This series is often recommended as a ‘starter series’ for readers who are just reading contemporary romance for the first time, & I’ve been dedicating some of my reading for the past year or so to catching up on ‘classic’ books in the genre. You might know that I’ve read this series a little bit out of order – I started with book #5, Party of Two, then read The Wedding Date (#1) ,The Wedding Party (#3), & Royal Holiday (#4), and now I just finished reading the latest installment, While Were Dating (sidenote that I feel like I basically know the premise and what happens in book #2/The Proposal at this point instead of reading – I may pick it up one day so I can actually say that I’ve read every book in the series).
Rambling somewhat set aside, having read 5 out of the 6 books in this series, I can say that the most recent releases, Party of Two and While We Were Dating, are Jasmine Guillory’s strongest books. Her writing style has grown so much since the earlier books, the plots are both unique AND well executed while still including some classic romance tropes & a story arc that is true to each Wedding Date book (not to mention that both Party of Two & While We Were Dating are the two steamiest in the series.). If you have yet to read any of Jasmine Guillory’s books, I highly recommend reading these two. And now on to focusing just on While We Were Dating!
While We Were Dating follows Hollywood star, Anna, and ad executive, Ben (who is also the brother of Theo, book #3/The Wedding Party’s male lead). Ben and Anna hit it off on an ad campaign Anna is starring in & Ben is leading and when Anna has a family emergency, Ben helps her out big time & the two spend so much time getting know one another (both as individuals & in a romance sense, of course). When Anna’s manager encourages Anna to be in a relationship in hopes of gaining media attention that will help her land her biggest role yet, Anna and Ben take their chemistry into a fake relationship.
While We Were Dating takes on two of my favorite tropes, workplace romance and fake dating, in such a refreshing way. I liked how Anna and Ben spend the first half of the book actually getting to know each other and then find themselves in a ‘fake’ relationship, since the two already have pretty strong feelings for one another. The book also feels really relevant and current, incorporating storylines surrounding therapy, anxiety, body image, race, and relationships that didn’t feel forced whatsoever. Similar to the other books in the series, While We Were Dating features Black protagonists (both Anna and Ben identify as Black) and on a lighter note, features so much food, which has become a fun hallmark of Jasmine Guillory’s books. I liked the cameos from characters in the other companion books – while yes, you’ll get a teeny bit spoiled with some of the relationship outcomes (this is a happily ever after type series), you don’t need to read the other books to read this one.
I highly recommend reading While We Were Dating if you are craving a binge-worthy and well-written contemporary romance! I believe While We Were Dating is the last book in the Wedding Date series, & I’m really looking forward to seeing what Jasmine Guillory writes next!
Have you read While We Were Dating? What is your favorite book in the Wedding Date series? Best contemporary romance you’ve read this summer? Share in the comments!