As a mega fan of Lillie Vale, I knew I had to read The Decoy Girlfriend and I’m obsessed! I’m a huge fan of the fake dating trope, so I knew this was going to be up my alley. And I was right! This is my favorite adult release of Vale’s! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Writer Freya Lal has a huge secret: she’s a dead ringer for It-girl actress Mandi Roy. Her second novel is due in a month, but inspiration is nowhere to be found. Desperate to shake off her writer’s block, Freya leans into her look-alike abilities and indulges in some mistaken identity for simple perks, like scoring a free mimosa or getting into a trendy nightclub.
Actor Taft Bamber appears to have it all: gorgeous, talented, and Mandi’s love interest both on- and off-screen. But what nobody knows is that their relationship is a PR stunt, and after years of playing make-believe, he’s yearning for something real.
When Freya’s latest impersonation of Mandi goes viral thanks to Taft’s accidental interference, rumors of a breakup threaten Hollywood’s golden couple. To make amends, Freya is forced to give Mandi a little time off: she’ll pretend to be the actress for a month, move in with Taft, and squash the rumors by acting completely in love. But as Freya and Taft play house, it becomes impossible to ignore that their instant chemistry isn’t just for the cameras. While faking it, they might have just found the real thing.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
As a fan of Vale’s books, The Decoy Girlfriend stands apart. It has a strong narrative voice – just like Beauty and the Besharam – but it’s dual POV. Freya instantly came out of the gates as a favorite. The ways in which she’s worried about her writing, feeling a bit stuck, and also unsure about what her future holds. At the same time, Taft was an easy character for me to fall in love with in the book. Because who hasn’t felt that sinking feeling when we are more invested in a friendship than someone else?
And that moment when we realize it? Ugh the emotional feels! Our first introduction to Taft made me a firm supporter. Don’t even get me started on how much of a softie cinnamon roll he is! But their chemistry truly transports Freya and Taft. It’s electric in their fake dating schemes. The banter manages to be witty while giving off plenty of steam. And if you love the characters who have a heavy case of the ‘feels denying’ then The Decoy Girlfriend is for you.
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I was not expecting to be so emotionally touched by The Decoy Girlfriend. I knew I’d be swooning and entertained, but I loved the ways in which Vale discusses toxic friendship. How it feels to have someone so disproportionately invested in our lives. Ugh as someone who has been going through some friendship earthquakes, it just pains my heart to read. Additionally, The Decoy Girlfriend explores how we cannot make someone prioritize themselves. To take a chance on their potential. We can only support, but ultimately it’s up to them.