The Dating Plan

One year ago, The Marriage Game by Sara Desai was a book on my radar. Alas, I never did read the book, but did that stop me from reading its sequel, The Dating Plan? No, no it did not. Technically, they each work as standalones, despite featuring characters in the same universe (or, in this case, family). And when Book of the Month offered it as a January pick – a full two months before its wider publication, I might add – I just had to get it. Long story short, I read The Dating Plan, I loved it, and now I need to go back and read the first one before book number three comes out!

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai
SeriesMarriage Game (#2)
AudienceAdult
GenreRomance
SettingCalifornia, USA
Number of Pages340
Format I ReadHardcover (BOTM)
Original Publication DateMarch 16, 2021

Official Summary

Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiancés might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiancé.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.

Review

The Dating Plan is a fake-relationship (in this case, fake engagement), second-chance, and enemies-to-lovers romance. I always love that last trope, but I haven’t read many books with the first two tropes (don’t judge me, I’m new to the genre!), so I was curious to see how it would all play out.

Right away, this novel has a unique and funny – borderline awkward – style. The first chapter is a prime example of the kind of humor, scenarios, and relationship shenanigans the rest of the book will offer. It all starts at a convention center, and though Daisy and Liam are both working for their respective jobs, some funny business with Daisy’s colleagues and her aunties leads her right to her long-lost high school crush. They haven’t seen each other in a decade, and Daisy kind of hates him for how he abruptly abandoned her, but they quickly realize they can help each other out.

For a variety of reasons (avoiding a parade of family-approved suitors; gaining access to a major inheritance with a strange condition attached), Daisy and Liam agree to pretend to be engaged. They’ll even go so far as to get married, with the full intention of divorcing a year later. That’s the plan, at least. Never mind Daisy’s lingering anger or the buried secrets of their past; these two will put on a show to make their (fake) relationship look real.

Daisy and Liam are such opposite characters. Daisy, a talented software engineer, is a master planner and loves all things Marvel. (Seriously. She has Marvel undergarments and wears them unironically.) She’s analytical, a numbers girl, but she’s also not afraid to go after what she wants, whether in the form of casual sex or pushing her company forward. Liam is a successful venture capitalist, a job he gained from his time drifting aimlessly after leaving his family behind. But aside from his dark past and competitive career, he’s fun, charming, and adventurous. He’s also a terrible planner. Daisy is an awesome, STEM woman powerhouse. Liam is a nice and charming cinnamon roll with a motorcycle.

One thing I enjoyed is how their (fake) relationship is both interracial and intercultural. Daisy and Liam both grew up in San Francisco, but where Daisy Patel’s family is Indian, Liam Murphy’s family is Irish. Their families have different ways of interacting and showing love, different expectations for their kids’ futures, and different levels of involvement with other family members’ lives.

Throughout The Dating Plan, Liam and Daisy keep up hilarious banter, and I was laughing my way through the whole book. These two are a riot, and it made their story a lot of fun. (I’ve had great luck with finding funny romances lately; People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry was equally hilarious.)

Of course, anger over the past and constant funny banter can’t distract Daisy and Liam from their mutual attraction. As they spend more time together on their meticulously planned (and very public) dates, they get to know each other, and those barriers come right down. It gets steamy, but even those scenes have an element of fun and silliness. (See the aforementioned Marvel undergarments, for example.)

Later on, my heart broke for Liam and the guilt he felt after a particular event involving Daisy. The conflict reached its peak here, bringing with it plenty of emotion and tenderness. Eventually, though, it all comes together in a delightful HEA. It’s a beautiful and wholly satisfying ending that harkens back to an earlier scene, and I was so here for that! Funny, cute, and heartwarming. Swoon.

Final Thoughts

The whole time I was reading it, I loved The Dating Plan. It’s an adorable and sweet book that’s smart and humorous. Of course, now I need to go back and read the first book in the series, The Marriage Game. Then in November, I will 100% be reading the third book, The Singles Table. Stay tuned for those reviews later this year!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Author

Sara Desai

Sara Desai has been a lawyer, radio DJ, marathon runner, historian, bouncer and librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, kids and an assortment of forest creatures who think they are pets. Sara writes sexy romantic comedy and contemporary romance with a multicultural twist. When not laughing at her own jokes, Sara can be found eating nachos.

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