When a single mom ends up playing an unwilling fake girlfriend to a charming playboy baseball player, love suddenly turns everything upside down in this fun, heartwarming multicultural romance.
Angel Gomez has never lived by the book. A Bronx-based unwed mother by the time she was 16, Angel’s personal mission has always been to show the world that a Puerto Rican girl is not to be messed with – especially by a man. The only thing that matters to Angel, now, is providing for her son and earning enough tips at the club to complete her nursing degree along the way. Love is nowhere on her agenda.
Caleb “The Duke” Lewis is a star pitcher for the Bronx Bolts whose romantic escapades make delicious fodder for gossip columns. But lately, he’s been trying to keep a lower profile – so much so that when he meets Angel, first while she’s in her nurse uniform and the next time behind the bar, she has no idea who Duke is, fails to fall for his obvious charm, and ends up throwing a drink in his face! She is the perfect woman for Duke…to fool the tabloids into thinking he’s finally settling down. But what begins as a charade soon has Duke and Angel hurtling into a full-blown romance that rocks each of their worlds and begs the question: Is this the real deal – or are some love stories just too good to be true?
Before I downloaded The Perfect Date from NetGalley, I headed over to Goodreads to read the reviews. They weren’t good; they were bad. The worse that I’ve every read. I took a chance. I figured The Perfect Date hadn’t hit its target audience, reviewers familiar with Evelyn Lozada. Therefore, they went into the book with expectations different from people familiar with the reality star and her on-screen persona would have.
They were right. I was wrong.
One of the most common criticisms on Goodreads is that the heroine and hero are unlikeable. I didn’t find Angel and Duke unlikeable; I found their personalities and life circumstances at odds with the cover illustrate cover and the generic synopsis. Based on the cover and synopsis prepare readers for a light contemporary read. While The Perfect Date is a contemporary, it’s not light. Angel and Duke are going through some things. They are two people raised in New York by poor families that are struggling to not become a statistic or stereotype. Their reality reflects in their personalities, which aren’t the personalities that people expect for two main characters in a light contemporary romance. Instead, The Perfect Date should have been marketed as a gritty sports romance. I think readers searching for a sports romance would have been more forgiving of Angel and Duke’s attitude and accepting of a heroine and a hero who both are rough around the edges.
The Perfect Date features two my favorite tropes, fake dating and hate to love. Duke needs Angel to help him make sure that public and the bigwigs of his major league baseball team believe that he is on the straight and narrow. He needs to keep his image clean to not jeopardize his position as the starting pitcher after a slew of recent scandal. Angel agrees, worried about consequences their association will have on her and her son’s future. The perfectly normal fake dating trope premise. Lozada and Loricnz tainted this trope with way too much drama, instead Angel and Duke learning they have a lot in common and enjoying their fake dates, engaging in “fake” flirtations that eventually leads to real romance there was nothing but drama. Almost all their encounters were Drama City, kind of like everyone favorite “Real Housewives of (insert city/region name here)” reality show which Lozada is an alum. It was almost like they were unable to have normal human interactions with each other without some amount of drama. The drama was over the top and unnecessary.
That leaves the hate to love trope to save this romance.
The Perfect Date failed to deliver on this trope as well. The transition from hate to love was not believable. While there’s a clear sexual attraction between Angel and Duke. There was no romantic chemistry. Especially, the romantic chemistry needed to make a hate to love relationship romance work. There was no sexual tension between the two of them. There were too few causal conversations between them to help them transition from hating each other (or rather Angel hating Duke) to loving each other. Again, The Perfect Date failed to execute the necessary transitional interactions need to make a hate to love trope work. When I finished the last page, I felt that Angel and Duke still didn’t know each other enough to make their romance believable. I never bought into the notion of Angel and Duke falling in love or at the end of them being in love. Angel and Duke ended up being two people attracted to each other but lacking romantic spark.
My rating of The Perfect Date could’ve been higher if the writing hadn’t been bad. Normally, I can excuse symptoms of a first novel (this is Lozada’s second). But this romance didn’t suffer from those symptoms. The writing was just not good. It was almost as if the writers weren’t familiar with the expectations of romance readers so the novel lack a lot of character and plot development that readers are looking forward too. I have high expectation for the writing in romance novels because the level of skill required to keep readers interested in a story where they already know the outcome is high. They have to not only write well developed plots and characters, but the writing has to be good enough that readers are invested in the seeing the main characters achieve their HEA. The writing in The Perfect Date was just meh, so meh that I almost DNF’d it a couple of times because my interest kept weaning.
While The Perfect Date has an interesting premise and pretty cover, I can’t recommend it. The over the top constant drama, lackluster romance, and mediocre writing failed to deliver. Which is unfortunate because it had tropes that I enjoy and characters that deserved an HEA.