Genevieve Applegate is craving change. She’s been dating Jeremy for a decade, is tired of her job at the tiny local newspaper in Milan, Pennsylvania, and she doesn’t want to get married until she finally lands her dream job. When she finds the posting for a perfect position at a successful publication, she knows she has to go after it, even if it’s in New Jersey.
Genevieve is thrilled when she scores an interview at Out Shore Magazine and is over the moon when she actually gets the job after meeting with the interesting and androgynous publisher, Harper Davies. There’s only one problem—Genevieve didn’t know until she was in the interview that Out Shore is an LGBT publication. Knowing it’s still the perfect job for her, she makes her decision and pitches a column that will require her to live a little white lie to get the life-changing line on her resume. Now if Genevieve can just keep her story straight (heh) when she talks to Jeremy or Harper, everything will be perfect. Except the more time she spends with Harper, less it feels like she’s pretending to be queer and the more Genevieve’s real life starts to feel like the lie.
Genevieve is lovely. She’s bright, sweet, and determined to achieve her goal of writing for a publication she’s proud of. She’s also known as a bit of a trainwreck by her friends and family for her tendency to leap before looking and ending up in a mess like, say, being straight and writing articles about what it’s like to be a smalltown lesbian living in the city. She doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body, which is probably why I was able to not only listen to this story, but also enjoy it, despite typically hating stories that hinge on deception. Genevieve does a hell of a lot of growing up in this book, learning who she is and how to face the consequences of her impulsive actions. By the end of the story, she’s a woman I respect and am very happy for.
Harper Davies is an incredibly easy character to like. She’s a kind, generous, and encouraging boss with a strong vision for growing Out Shore’s standing and reputation across the country. Although she’s been burned by love, she’s not at all an ice queen, and the way she opens up to Genevieve and the possibility of new love had me in knots for her because I knew the collision was coming. As much as I was happy for Genevieve by the end of the book, I was even more happy for Harper because she’s so richly rewarded for being courageous enough to put herself out there again.
Between Genevieve’s friends and family, and the colleagues at Out Shore, there are a lot of side characters that help bring the story to life. I’m going to give a shout out to my two favourites: Gen’s best friend, Chloe, and Gen’s mother. May we all have women like them in our lives! They’ve supportive and levelheaded and love Genevieve exactly as she is, the perfect help as she muddles through her self-induced calamities.
The Writing Style
Not only is the book quite funny and quirky and sweet, which I loved, it’s also very cleverly structured. The subtitle of Fake It Till You Make It is “A User’s Guide,” and each of the chapters are listed as steps with names like “Getting Started,” “Have a Confidante,” and “Accept Your New Role.” The book is fiction through and through, but giving it chapter names like a self-help book and having each of those names connect to what happens in the chapter was a brilliant choice.
I have to admit that I wasn’t totally sure about AJ Ferraro as a narrator at first (although I feel like I say that almost every time I encounter a new narrator). It turns out that I had nothing to fear because she really was the perfect choice to bring Genevieve and her story to life.
Harper! Oh wow, do I ever love her.
Also, the writing is very cute and clever, with well-developed characters. M. Ullrich is definitely growing with each book that she puts out.
I don’t know if this actually a con, but I had a circular conversation with myself the whole way through this book that basically went like this: if Out Shore is an LGBT publication, why couldn’t she just have said she was bisexual? Then it would have been okay that she had a boyfriend. Except that furthers the stereotype that bi people aren’t trustworthy, which, huh, I don’t really want to see either. Also the whole premise would have unravelled. Dammit.
Seriously, that was my thought process the whole way through the book. I still think it sometimes, in the time that’s passed since I finished it. Also, I would have liked for her to acknowledge at some point that she’s bi or pan, but that’s mostly because, as a bisexual woman, I like seeing my identity affirmed on the page.
I thought Fake It Till You Make It was really cute and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a fun, sweet romance with really strong character arcs, definitely check it out.
Excerpt from Fake It Till You Make It by M Ullrich
8:49 am. Genevieve looked at the face of her watch for the third time in less than two minutes and back to the glass double doors before her. She believed arriving ten minutes early was an easy display of professionalism and made a great first impression.
Genevieve started a mental checklist, reviewing the little details about her backstory in preparation for making small talk as a newbie. Never use pronouns when talking about relationships. Everything else can remain the same. She inhaled the clean September air deeply. Just don’t forget that you’re a lesbian now.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626399235
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
- Narrator: AJ Ferraro
Note: I received a free review copy of Fake It Till You Make It by M Ullrich. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.