Book/Author and Year Published: Real Deal by Piper Rayne (2017)

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Contemporary Single Dad Romance

Preferred Reading Environment: On a boat or beach by the lake

Reading Accoutrements: A cold beer or a glass of wine

Content Notes: allusions to drug use/addiction

Today is my dad’s birthday!!! In celebration, I decided to review a book about an awesome dad (because my dad is AWESOME. Ask anyone). Caveat: that’s pretty much where the similarities end between this character and my dad.

Real Deal follows Marcus, the single father of five-year-old Lily, who is attending summer camp in their little town of Climax Cove –

Jeriann: Really? That’s the location for our romance novel? Okkaaay then…

– for the first time ever. Much to Marcus’s dismay, Lily has been ever-more-frequently asking about her mother and Marcus is hopeful that summer camp will distract his daughter from her curiosity. But on the first day of summer camp, all Marcus learns is that Lily’s camp counselor is an excellent distraction for him.

Caterina, Lily’s camp counselor, remembers Marcus from six years ago when he rejected her advances. Because she’s embarrassed, she doesn’t want Marcus to realize she remembers him. Having recently graduated from Berkeley with a degree in art and offers for exhibitions from several galleries in New York City, Caterina is looking forward to one last relaxing summer before her real life begins. But she can’t seem to get Marcus and his adorable daughter out of her head.

A member of the “Single Dads Club,” Marcus is dedicated to protecting Lily from the truth about her mother, who left them when Lily was three months old and is in prison for armed robbery due to a drug addiction. He is determined to be everything that Lily needs – both father and mother – and he can’t, or won’t, acknowledge that his daughter might want to know more about her mother in the future. Seriously, the number of times the man says, “I’m all she needs!” is borderline narcissistic. 

Both Catarina and Marcus are can be self-aware, acknowledging their emotions and thought processes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep them from making frustrating choices. At separate times, and about completely different issues, they both admit to themselves that they are being illogical. And then they lean into their illogical decision even harder (at which point I seriously wanted to throw my phone out a window just to watch the screen crack over the words on the page…) and get upset that other people aren’t supporting their decisions. I remember thinking to myself, “Wait, go back three pages! You just said you weren’t making any sense! Why are you being like this???” I guess when a book can make you feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster, it means you’re engaged in the characters, but this one got a bit irritating for a (brief) period of time in the middle.

The message, storyline, and writing for Real Deal were all pretty typical for a contemporary romance novel. Honestly, this story didn’t exactly stand out from the genre. You simply enjoy the drama of other people’s lives as they learn how to get out of their own way and find love and happiness. It’s a cute story, with an adorable 5-year-old, a hot dad, and an artistic and sweet love interest, but I wouldn’t call it unique. If you are looking for a light and fluffy summer novel that will warm your heart and make you want a cupcake, this is right up your alley.

I was surprised by the fact that Piper Rayne is actually two people. I only know because I read the afterward (I like to find out how authors find inspiration for new stories – the duo apparently started this Single Dads Club series because one of their kids had an insanely hot camp counselor…anyway…) and they mentioned that they are actually two people with the names Piper and Rayne. It surprised me because the writing was very cohesive; usually with two authors I get the occasional sentence that has a unique voice but I had no idea until the end of this book. If you are part of a writing team, I recommend checking out how these two went about their writing process because the result was impressive.

Have you ever learned something about an author(s) that changed the way you looked at a book?

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