Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

Romance, 336 pages, published in 2019

After accidentally posting a fake engagement announcement to Instagram using one her of jewelry store’s rings, Eliza decides she needs to make the most of the situation. Business has been booming and brands have been offering her free stuff – including a free wedding – since the post, so Eliza decides to find a man who can be her Instagram-worthy husband.

Mostly Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I try to keep all of my review spoiler free, but this one, I needed to go into some spoilers a little bit in order to bring up important points about this book.

I saw this audiobook on Scribd and thought it looked cute, so I started listening. At first, it seemed like it could be a cute fake dating/marriage story, but it quickly took a turn from there.

I had thought that Eliza initially was trying to find a man who would knowingly be in a fake relationship with her in order to get the perks of her accidental announcement. It became very clear after she found the man that this was not the case at all. She was trying to find a man who looked great, who she potentially fall in love with, and who she could get to propose to her for real, so that she could have her free wedding. I was absolutely shocked because for one, I guess I misunderstood what her plan was, and two, it was such a manipulative plan.

Eliza knows that she is doing something wrong, but she keeps justifying it because it’s helping her business. She co-owns the business with her sister, who is getting IVF and needs to pay for it, so Eliza feels the pressure of that. She is constantly trying to justify what she is doing by saying that she is “taking bold risks” and she’s “out there chasing her dreams”, but in reality, she just manipulating someone.

Blake, the man Eliza begins dating for this ruse, has no idea what is happening. For all he knows, him and Eliza are in a normal relationship. Eliza keeps so many secrets from him and consistently lies to him because she doesn’t want to expose the fact the she’s using him. He is totally and absolutely in love with her and she just sees it as a win because her plan is going to work. The entire time that they are together, she keeps convincing herself that eventually she could fall in love with him, even though she knows it’s not really true.

Eliza ends up telling him about her whole plan about a month before their fake but real free wedding, and then she has the audacity to be mad when he’s upset about it. I was absolutely astounded at this point. This poor man thought he was going to marry the love of his life, only to find out that it was all fake, she wasn’t really love him, and it was all to promote her business. All of her friends are super sympathetic to her as well, which was wild to me because the whole situation is 100% Eliza’s fault.

Eliza also totally forgets about Blake after she finds a new way to follow through with her fake wedding. She gives him a passing thought or two, but he is largely forgotten about in the last 30-40% of the book.

Aside from all of the lying and manipulating, this book had other super questionable content. At one point, Eliza says that most of her recent hookups have been “dangerously close to what some might call sexual assault”. I literally had to rewind and make sure I heard that right. I’m not sure what the intent of that line was. Was it supposed to be funny? Was it supposed to show just how hilariously bad her previous dates had gone? Whatever it was supposed to mean, it made me very uncomfortable, especially considering that it was never addressed again.

I also had an issue with the New York City mentality that most characters in this book had that I can only describe as pretentious, snobby, and entitled. At one point, Eliza goes to her sister’s house and she’s making stirfry. The sister asks for $15,000 from the business (is that how businesses work?) in order to get IVF. At this point, the author could have made the reader sympathize with the sister because of her struggles getting pregnant, but instead, we are supposed to sympathize with the fact that she is making stirfry instead of going out to dinner to save money. She acts like she’s making these huge sacrifices to save money (AKA making dinner instead of going out), but it just comes across as so spoiled. There were other moments like this, but this was the most memorable.

Normally, if I am hating a book this much while I was reading it, I will drop it. I have no problem with not finishing books, but I really wanted to see how this would turn out. I kept waiting and waiting for Eliza to do something to make up for how terrible she was, but not only did she not really do anything to make up for it, she didn’t change or learn from the experience at all. I was also really hoping that Blake wouldn’t take her back in the end.

I really can’t say anything positive about this book, nor can I recommend that anyone reads it. I just think that they was that emotional manipulation was portrayed in this book was disgusting. There was nothing right about what Eliza did to Blake, and having it in a romantic comedy setting just made it feel like it was taken even less seriously.

The lesson I learned is don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This cover is super cute, but the story is the opposite of that.

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2 thoughts on “Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

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