This is our third Exploring Romance Tropes feature, having previously swooned over enemies-to-lovers stories and revelled in friends-to-lovers narratives. If these tropes appeal to you, click the links to explore our previous recommendations. In this latest in the series we're looking at another popular trope: Fake Dating. 

The fake dating trope, as with many other tropes, does exactly what it says on the tin - Characters A and B, who don't always see each other romantically, find themselves in a situation where they need to have a partner (not wanting to show up at an ex's wedding single, trying to get nagging parents off their back) and told a teensy little white lie about a fictitious partner. From there close proximity works its magic and voila - what was once a business-like agreement to pretend to be in love suddenly becomes the real thing. 

I'm not sure what it is about the fake dating trope I like so much. I think it's that as the characters start their journey together there's nothing hidden, no best behaviour of early dating to be seen. So, as with enemies-to-lovers and relationships that dip into the morally grey, it appeals to readers (me definitely included) to see the warts and all persona being the one that's front and centre for the characters as they fall for each other. 

A classic example of this trope from film to explain the concept is Pretty Woman - Richard Gere's character needs a plus one for some social events and after bumping into the beautiful prostitute played by Julia Roberts, a deal is made for her to stay the week with him. But by the end of the week, things aren't as cut and dry as previously thought.

From popular film to popular adapted book, Julia Quin's The Duke & I, also known as season one of Bridgerton, is another great example of this trope. A charming yet steamy, regency set romance follows Daphne Bridgerton's first season out in society as a debutante. Meanwhile, Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, hatches a plan to keep himself as far away from the marriage market as possible, through a sham courtship with Daphne. However the season progresses and those waltzes work their magic as Daphne finds herself falling for Simon.

A popular BookTok pick for fake dating fans is The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, the brilliant, STEM-inist feel good romance that sky rocketed Hazelwood to fame across social media and beyond. My first instinct after finishing this book was to pick it up and start reading again. Olive's calculated theories on love are thrown into chaos when considered alongside the irresistible force of attraction to moody professor Adam Carlsen.

Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient is a steaming hot and beautifully tender love story. Stella Lane has Aspergers and while she is a wealthy, successful woman, she finds the one-to-one awkwardness of dates hard. To overcome her lack of experience she decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend. The more time she spends with Michael the more she realises love isn't a logic puzzle.

Take a scroll through our collection below for some more fake dating book recommendations. Let us know in the comments if there's a romance trope you want us to cover next, and click here to revisit all of our Exploring Romance Tropes collections.