Unless, you’re new here, most of you know that modern romance novels typically aren’t my cup of tea, so when I find a series or author whose style I appreciate, I hold on for dear life. And that is certainly the case with Farrah Rochon’s The Dating Playbook, the second book in The Boyfriend Project series, which is just as great as the first book. If you were excited for Taylor Powell’s story, Rochon’s sequel doesn’t disappoint. And if you didn’t know there’s another story, surprise!
A large reason why this book series works for me is because Rochon’s impeccable style of writing aside, at its core, the series is about friendships as much as it is about romance. (Plus, I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again, the third person narrator always makes a romance novel better.) Essentially, a good balance is often hard to find in such a way where it feels organic. It’s hard to care about all the characters when you’re focused so heavily on the love story, but in The Dating Playbook, it is as much about women taking care of each other as it is about the budding relationship.
The Dating Playbook follows Taylor Powell, a personal trainer who’s now struggling with her clientele and income until she meets a former NFL player, Jamar Dixon. He might just be the solution to her financial struggles, except there is now fake dating involved, secrets that need to be kept, and decisions made about what she is going to the do in her career. It’s a delightful roller coaster of emotions is what it is.
Jamar’s innate kindness is so striking from the moment we meet him, and that might just be one of the strongest parts of the novel—as a hero who’s in the spotlight, there is no form of arrogance or pompousness that relies on the woman to have to change. (Because fun fact, famous person/regular person trope is generally always a no for me, but thankfully, that is not the case here.) He is a genuinely good person who’s seeking out a woman with tremendous strength because he’s the one in need of it. He needs someone who will believe him, but he also wants to be trained by someone whose talents he admires. Hi yes, we love a feminist man. There’s a lot that can be said about the equality in their relationship that touches on just how healthy couples can and should operate.
The fake dating trope leads to an organic friendship, a strong attraction, and evidently into the blissful kind of romance that focuses intently on helping one party find their inner strength in whatever area they need it in. It’s give and take equally with the two of them. The novel also takes on grief, vulnerability, and just what it looks like when people have fallen and how they overcome the demons they’ve carried for far too long. Throughout the course of The Dating Playbook, Rochon takes the characters through the kind of natural conflict that never feels forced, but instead, it works to advance the story while focusing intently on character complexities.
If you haven’t read the first of the series, The Boyfriend Project, during our end of the year reviews last year, we had said: “From beginning to end, Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project is a page turner–with a brilliant focus on female friendships and compelling characters, there’s not a single dynamic or moment throughout the novel that didn’t feel seamless. And the love story is such a fantastic workplace romance with a twist; we really don’t need to say more other than the fact that it’s yet another novel we immediately need turned into a film. The Boyfriend Project is surprising, fun, and it’s a story about badass, kind women who get stuff done and men who admire them for it. At its core, it’s a story about friendship and transparency. This was the first novel I read by Rochon and the first present-day romance written in third person, which is a personal preference of mine. Rochon’s style is stunning, her characters are riveting, and the end of this novel will leave you wanting more.”
I need these novels adapted into films stat. I’ve already got some fan casts in my head, so if you’ve read them, let us know who you’d love to see in the comments below.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.