You know those authors you want to keep up with over time? Gloria Chao is one of mine. Having read an ARC of American Panda and absolutely loving it, I’ve made sure to keep reading her books. Our Wayward Fate has made my list of top books because of how Ali navigates her identity. So I had huge hopes for Rent a Boyfriend with fake dating. And I was right. Keep reading this book review to see what I loved!
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.
Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.
When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.
But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
While reading Rent a Boyfriend I was entirely immersed. Not having notes for a book can go either way, but for me, I could not stop reading. In Rent a Boyfriend, Chao balances endearing and relatable characters with fake dating and a plot that will captivate you. What I particularly loved was how Chloe, and Drew, balance their identity with their own future. For Chloe, it becomes difficult to separate her own wishes with her parents, especially considering their sacrifices.
Having your wishes go against your parents is no easy struggle, but for Chloe there’s more at stake as she must balance their different beliefs and participation in Taiwanese culture. Chao is able to make the food, traditions, and the conflicts for Chloe and Drew come alive. I truly felt for the ways she wants to balance her love for her parents with her necessity to fight for her future. Rent a Boyfriend is dual POV, allowing Drew’s perspective to shine as well.
I knew I was going to love Chloe’s perspective, particularly as she navigates her relationship with her parents. But I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love Drew. The fears of feeling like a failure, afraid to show something so precious and essential because once you do there’s no turning back? Talk about relatable. Throughout Rent a Boyfriend I also appreciated how Chao managed to show the importance of one’s culture, especially for Chloe’s parents, while also illustrating the needs for certain beliefs to be open to change.
Rent a Boyfriend is an ode to embracing your identity. To realizing it is so closely interwoven in ourselves. To the struggle to balance the pressure of living because of your parents and for them. I loved Chao’s third book and cannot wait for more! Find Rent a Boyfriend on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.