It seems to be a very false spring in the romance world—and by false, I mean fake. And by fake, I mean a whole host of things—fake girlfriends, fake relationships, fake weddings, fake marriages, and fake husbands who may or may not be billionaires. The marriage of convenience has always been an exciting storyline in romance, and it’s experiencing a revival in the Amazon store as the weather heats up.

I’d bet if you walked through the mall bookstore in 1995, you could find twenty Harlequin romances with a marriage of convenience or an arranged marriage somewhere in the plot. The whole idea of a relationship like that is exciting—a man and a woman are thrown together. In any other circumstance, they’d avoid each other entirely. The man is brash, impulsive. A perennial bad boy. The young woman is shy, hesitant, a reclusive flower who loves libraries and kittens. When the bad boy simply must be married to gain his inheritance, he turns to the sweet young girl, and together they form a pact. They’ll marry—for a year, perhaps two. There won’t be affection, or sex, or even the hint of foreplay. But they’ll both get a cut of the inheritance. (Or the company, or the business deal, or the esteem and respect of their families—there’s always a prize involved.) Once their time together begins, however, sparks always start to fly. Opposites attract, and the thrill of proximity adds to the depth of their desires. And, since love is forbidden (or at least not part of the original plan), that sweet emotion begins to bloom despite our characters’ initial misgivings.

This spring, that story is all over the place. This time, the hero is often the ever-popular billionaire bad boy, and the bride is innocent and very often virginal. Our favorite romance authors are adding their own ideas too. There are single fathers, doctors, virgins, bosses, and cops. As love blooms in spring, these characters all need someone to fill a specific role. They find themselves in these comedically twisted relationships, with light, funny twists and turns, and the hope for their own beautiful happy endings.

Winter Renshaw, as usual, has perfected this plot in The Perfect Illusion. Hudson Rutherford, the well-moneyed and impeccably chiseled businessman, needs a fake fiancée, and fast. The only way to get his parents off of his back is to enter a pretend relationship with his personal assistant who absolutely can’t stand him. She’ll get a pay out in the end, but she might not be able to resist his charms before he cuts the check. This story gives us the classic splitting-the-inheritance plot line, with the addition Winter Renshaw’s incredibly witty and lyrical writing and her charming, addictive characters.

Faking For Her by Kira Blakely focuses on another fake relationship. This time, Shawna must play the role of fake girlfriend so that her boss can impress the conservative company he’s working hard to acquire. And she needs his protection. It seems like a simple business decision for them both, but the exchange of services quickly heats up, and they’re soon feeding the fire of their attraction to one another.

With Big Bad Fake Groom, Tia Siren continues her amazing “Big Bad” series, but this time with a groom in desperate need of a fake bride. This is another inheritance-focused marriage of convenience, but with another twist. This bride is determined to wait until her wedding night to lose her virginity. That doesn’t gel with this fake groom’s notion of a relationship—and he finds himself trying to convince his fiancée to hop in bed before they tie the knot. She needs the publicity as an artist. He needs the money. And they both end up needing each other.

Callie Quigg, author of Make Believe Marriage, tells a different story. In Quigg’s story, Caden needs his green card, and Lizzie is desperate for money. They sort out a deal where they’re able to get both—but their feelings start to get in the way. Once their make believe marriage has morphed into something else, Lizzie’s father is trying to force Caden out of her life. By this time, Lizzie is pregnant, and the ties that bind Lizzie and Caden together are stronger than either of them expected.

Billionaire Devin has three reasons to want Lillian. One—the judge has ordered him to get a new wife, or he’ll lose custody of his daughter. Two—Lillian is absolutely gorgeous. Three—he never realized it, but this single dad wants a second baby. And when he sees Lillian, it’s clear to him that she should be the mother. When Lillian agrees to be his stand-in wife, she’s only familiar with reason number one. In The Billionaire’s Fake Marriage by Sarah Brooks, Lillian and Devin’s marriage becomes anything but fake.

Juliana Conners rounds out the list with a fun, sexy romp about a doctor and his forbidden patient. Doctor Fake Fiancé is the doctor we’ve all dreamed of—fiery, sexy, and totally fierce. And of course, he’s about to perform a purity exam on virginal Elizabeth Jane. When it turns out she’s far too much to resist, the billionaire doctor saves her virtue by posing as her fiancé. What neither of them realized is that love would arise from such an unusual beginning.

The spring is anything but fake—there’s a sea of green outside from where I sit. But it seems readers are gravitating to the whimsical as summer fast approaches. These fun stories might not be what we see of relationships in everyday life, but romance tickles our fantastical desires. These fake relationships have exactly what you need for a read by the pool or on the beach—sizzling heat from characters thrown together by circumstance, a few secret babies, and even a purity exam for the more adventurous. As the season turns the corner into summer, enjoy these fabulous stories. They pair well with a glass of cool, sparkling wine.

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Lexi Whitlow

Lexi Whitlow is originally from the middle of nowhere in a tiny county in Virginia--though now she's enjoying her days as a suburban romance writer in a neighborhood with a big, shiny pool. She spent her early years growing up between Virginia and her grandfather's farm in North Carolina. She's Southern by heritage and a world-traveler at heart. Writing books allow her to travel to distant, unexplored lands in her mind, but she spends most days chasing her six-year-old and shouting at her dog to stop sneaking onto the sofa while she's writing. She holds a master's degree in English literature, and her mom is so proud she's "using her degree." Lexi harbors a not-so-secret love for bad boys. She loves fighters, dirty princes, crooked cops, and criminals. Her husband is a scientist... but he has the heart of a bad boy. She spends what little free time she has crocheting, painting, and occasionally cooking for her family. On big writing nights, everyone is happy eating cereal.

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