Nathan Moffatt is the wedding planner at a resort on a small island. His job is busy and demanding and he is not interested in dating. Yet, everyone Nathan knows, including his mom and his best friend Max, is determined to see him paired off and it is making him crazy. Nathan decides the only way to put them all off is to find a really terrible boyfriend, someone that would make them all prefer to see Nathan alone. So he seeks out the guy on the island with the worst reputation, Flynn Delaney, and asks him to take on the temporary role of bad boyfriend.
At first Flynn has no interest in playing along with Nathan’s ruse. But he definitely thinks Nathan is attractive and, after some negotiating, Flynn agrees. It doesn’t hurt that there is no love lost between Flynn and Max, nor between Flynn and Max’s dad, the resort owner. So if they are annoyed to see Flynn dating Nathan, that is a win for him.
Things start off as an attempt to rile everyone up enough to leave Nathan alone about further dating. But before long, the guys are realizing that they actually quite like each other. What began as a game may be turning into something more. But with an expiration date on their relationship, not to mention trouble from those who don’t want to see the guys together, things may be over before they really have a chance to start.
I enjoy a fake relationship story and I am a fan of T.A. Moore’s writing, so I was eager to check out Wanted–Bad Boyfriend. Moore gives us a nice sense of both of these men and their personalities. They are both quite likable guys and their characters are well developed and interesting. I could believe in the development of their relationship, and even as they start off faking it, it isn’t long before the chemistry between them begins coming through. I also enjoyed the setting here of the small island community, even if everyone is a bit too in each other’s business. Moore brings the town to life and there is just a nice sense of place here that works well for this type of story.
My biggest hurdle here is that the set up doesn’t really play out the way things are described in the blurb, and I think that is to the book’s determinant. The idea is that Nathan is going to find someone to be the “bad boyfriend” and discourage everyone from trying to pair him up again. So I think this premise works if Nathan and Flynn are in on the joke together, trying to pull one over on the town busybodies who won’t leave Nathan alone by making Flynn seem so undesirable.
But the reality is that Flynn is a good person and everything he does while dating Nathan is perfectly well behaved. There is no bad boyfriend behavior, no silly hijinks, no wink and nod to the fact that they are fooling everyone. Instead, everyone thinks Flynn is a bad boyfriend just because the entire town seems to irrationally hate him. They constantly gossip about him, making up horrible stories about terrible things he has supposedly done. They tell him to his face he is not good enough for Nathan. Basically, everyone is awful to him, for no reason I could discern. So instead of Nathan and Flynn against the town, so much of this story is watching everyone treat this perfectly nice man totally horribly. I mean, yes, sometimes he can be brash and a bit of a jerk. But he is a good person, generally kind to others, not to mention he works in emergency services saving people’s lives. Yet they still all inexplicably hate him. So rather than a sense of fun, I felt pretty horrible for Flynn. And, at times, I felt annoyed at Nathan for putting Flynn in a position to be further hated by virtue of this bad boyfriend plan. Even at the end, while things work out for the guys together, there is never any redemption for Flynn or closure for the fact that people are so cruel to him.
So I wouldn’t say this is a downer of a story. In fact, it is mostly pretty lighthearted and the guys are a fun and sexy pair. So their relationship and their connection really carried the story for me and made the book entertaining. But I wish the premise in the blurb played out more in the story to allow us to be on the team with Nate and Flynn against the nosy townsfolk, rather than watching Flynn be treated so badly, as that just took some of the fun out of the book for me. Still, this was a good story and worth checking out.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.