The Boyfriend Candidate

Graydon House. May 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781525804960. pap. $18.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Winstead’s latest romance (after Fool Me Once) features soft-spoken, shy school librarian Alexis Stone, who hates going outside her comfort zone. Trying to put her ex behind her, she’s at a hotel bar looking for a one-night stand. Her attempt at a fling comes to a smoky end when the hotel catches fire and she—and the incredibly sexy man she picked up—have to run into a street filled with fire trucks and the press. The man bolts, leaving her behind. The next day, Alexis learns that her mystery man is none other than Texas gubernatorial candidate Logan Arthur, and due to photos leaked from that night, a scandal is brewing. To head it off, Alexis agrees to pretend to be Logan’s established girlfriend until election day. This slow-burn, fake-relationship romantic comedy has likable protagonists with instant chemistry. Alexis begins the novel timid and insecure and realistically grows in confidence as the plot progresses and as she finds her voice. Logan is less developed but equally enjoyable, providing Alexis with a grumpy, inscrutable foil.
VERDICT This is a fast-paced, hard-to-put-down novel whose happily-ever-after isn’t what readers will expect; it’s better.
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