Cover Image: Rent a Boyfriend

Rent a Boyfriend

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Member Reviews

[Content warnings: sexism, misogyny, classism, fatphobia, arranged marriage, manipulation, disowning, homophobia, a few references to the HP series]

As a born-and-raised Taiwanese, I was incredibly excited when I first heard about Rent a Boyfriend, a Taiwanese American, fake-dating YA romance. I knew that even though I didn’t grow up in the US, there would be elements in Chloe and Drew’s story that I would recognize. What I didn’t expect was how much of my own life I saw in the book.

Chloe Jing-Jing Wang (19, Taiwanese American) is an economics major at UChicago, much to her parents’ dismay. That and the fact that she doesn’t make an effort in dating. When the seemingly eligible bachelor neighbor Hongbo Kuo (25) suddenly proposes to her, Chloe’s parents jump at the chance to marry her off, for fear she might not get a better husband. But Chloe doesn’t plan on sitting around as life happen to her. For Thanksgiving, she hires fake boyfriend Andrew (real name: Drew Chan, 21, Taiwanese American) from Rent for Your ’Rents to convince her parents that a) she does date, and b) her boyfriend Andrew is perfect—son of surgeons and on his way to med school. While everything in Chloe’s life suddenly becomes an ever-growing lie, her and Drew’s feelings for each other is everything but fake.

I thought this was going to be a very light-hearted story with hilarious disasters surrounding Chloe’s huge charade, and in a way, it was, but there were also many conversations that hit home so hard that I find it painful, too. Growing up, I’ve heard countless variations of the comment, “Aiyah, Jing-Jing, I pick at you because you’re my daughter, [...] That’s how I show I care. I want you to be the best.” I used to equate being scolded as being loved. And to catch glimpses of my life depicted vividly in this book was both incredible and terrifying: the little ticks and quirks of the parents, the sense of disconnection with tradition and culture, and even some of the baffling values and beliefs.

Some might think it is ludicrous Chloe’s and Drew’s parents behave the way they do—I wonder, too, but to a certain degree, it is also very true. While I am not sure if Chao had intended to exaggerate all the polar-opposite values Asian Americans face growing up, I wasn’t surprised by any of the dialogue, because I have personally heard tamped down versions of the same things—either directed to me or a friend.

In Rent a Boyfriend, all the parents are problematic, and we also have the awful spoiled rich boy Hongbo. I think his character embodies, and is almost a caricature of, snobby, pompous rich guys, and is a stark contrast to guāi (good, well-behaved) boys which parents prefer their daughters to date. The story also briefly touches upon homophobia within the Asian community, and how some Rent for Your ’Rents clients hired fake dates because they weren’t ready to come out.

The story is told in both Chloe’s and Drew’s first-person points of view, letting the readers in more on Chloe’s motives and Drew’s backstory. I love the contrasting themes in the story, such as Chloe’s initial rejection and Drew’s embrace of their cultural roots as well as the balance between falsehood and truth—though Drew fakes for a living, he is true to himself. And I especially love and deeply appreciate the uses of Mandarin and one Taiwanese phrase in the dialogues. I am not sure what the reading experience would be for non-Mandarin-speaking readers, but I love that Rent a Boyfriend really talked me. There were so many instances I laughed out loud because the word choices were so on point. And there are also many details that connect the whole story well.

Drew is incredibly sweet. I love him from the beginning while Chloe fails to treat him well. We see both of them working through their own issues—Chloe’s identities and Drew’s dreams—before they can finally come together with a believable future. And I love how much potential their future holds. Though almost every other character is not very nice, minor characters such as Drew’s roommate Jason, also a Rent for Your ’Rents operator, and his boyfriend Marshall are truly what friends are for.

The way Chao integrated Taiwanese culture into the story is wonderful. Rent a Boyfriend is not only a sweet romance, but also a soul searching journey. The larger story is about being in touch with all of oneself, that bad memories and misunderstandings should never taint one’s wholeness.
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I loved the premise and the fake relationship aspect of this book. Andrew and Chloe fit so well together, even if it did take them so long to figure it out. I really enjoyed learning more about the Chinese culture, the foods and terms. This book has a balance of being a romcom and digging into deeper issues. Overall, I enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a quick and sweet romance, I recommend this one!
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I picked this up because it seemed to check the same boxes as Kiss Quotient and To All the Boys I've Loved. And it does. This book is just as cute just as sweet, and just as intensely centered on familial expectations. But this book wasn't for me, and I say that in the kindest way possible. I loved a lot about this book. The fake dates were freaking adorable. 
But this story is so centered on Chloë and her relationship with her parents' expectations. This was much more a coming of age story than it was a romance. I'm too obsessed with love stories to have much patience for these chick lit books masquerading as romance. That is not to say this book is bad or that I hated it. Rather it's to say that marketing matters and when promoting books as romance, you better be sure that's exactly what you're selling.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an arc for review!

Rent a Boyfriend reads like a cheesy k-drama in the best way possible with its fake-dating premise, cavity-inducing romance, and enough family drama to make the Kardashians look boring. Chloe Wang, tired of her parents constantly pressuring her about marrying the richest bachelor in their small Palo Alto community, turns to Rent for Your 'Rents, a company that'll provide you with a perfect plus one for a price. Her algorithm-assigned boyfriend is Drew Chan, an aspiring artist fallen on hard times who became a Rent keep a roof over his head. But somewhere in between the persona they present to Chloe's parents and their vulnerable, late-night texts, something real begins to blossom between them. But can their new and fragile relationship survive the strict expectations of their families and communities?

Rent a Boyfriend was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it definitely didn't disappoint. As a Chinese-American girl from a background very similar to Chloe's, I was able to relate immensely to her struggles with her parents. I expect many other first-generation Asian youths would also see themselves reflected in Chloe's struggles to break free from the influence of her parents while also desperately trying to cling to them. While RaB is no doubt a happy story, there is a bittersweet taste throughout as we see Chloe realize that there's only so much she can change about her parents. 

 Other than it's amazing representation of the struggles of children of the Asian diaspora, RaB also depicts East-Asian culture so well, from the mouth-watering food to the gossipy church ah yi's that humble-brag about their children. It seems like such a small thing, but having a book depict my culture so well honestly makes me emotional. The cover itself is amazing and I'd love to see more people of color on future books. Representation matters, and RaB does an amazing job. 

One note though, this would definitely be categorized under older YA both because of some of the themes and the ages of the main characters themselves. 

I will definitely be picking up more of Chao's books in the future, and I highly recommend RaB to literally anybody looking for a cute romance.
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Rent A Boyfriend is so beautifully written, I loved the plot and the uniqueness of the story and characters. I don’t read many romances but I enjoyed this one a lot, and can we just talk about this beautiful cover for a second?😍 
I loved Jing Jing/Chloe so much and I’m so happy that she finally got to express her true self to her parents and their community! Drew and Chloe are so cute, I’m obsessed with their relationship and their inside jokes! 
The fact that women actually rent fake boyfriends in Asian countries got me so interested in the story! Renting fake boyfriends should be totally be a thing, not just in Asian countries!
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I really enjoyed this book! Chloe and Drew had some great banter and I loved the character growth. While also being funny and romantic, this dealt with some more serious issues, and I think they were executed really well.
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Super cute! It's a fauxmance plus a story about family expectations. 

Chloe's parents have lots of ideas about how she should live her life and to a) keep them off her back and b) deter the awful guy they're trying to match her with, she uses a company to hire a fake boyfriend. 

Enter Drew, who has a dossier on Chloe and a closet full of Ivy league sweatshirts designed to impress even the pickiest parents. 

Of course these two fall for each other and have to navigate all their complicated family issues to be together. This isn't the plot-heaviest book, but it's a moving story about parent/child relationships. And features lots of descriptions of delicious food!
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Posted to Goodreads: Chloe Wang has never been able to live up to her parents' expectations.  They don't like where she is going to college, they don't like what she is studying, and they really don't like that she is not willing to marry the boy she picked.  Desperate times call for desperate measures and Chloe's desperate measures include hiring Drew from Rent a Boyfriend to pretend to be her serious boyfriend and charm her parents.  Chloe's plan seems perfect until she begins to have real feelings for her fake boyfriend.

This book was perfectly fine but it never really hooked me.  The characters felt very similar to the characters in other books by Chao and the plot was like many other fake date books but at a much slower pace.  The most interesting part of the book was the insight into the Chinese tradition of renting boyfriends to introduce to your parents but that aspect was barely touched on.
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RENT A BOYFRIEND centers around Chloe Wang, who is anxious to meet her parents for the holidays because they keep trying to set her up with Hongbo, the son of very well off businesspeople that her parents want her to date because it would mean she'd be "set" for life. Chloe, disgusted by Hongbo and his personality, arranges a fake boyfriend through an app specifically for renting partners to please parents. 

Drew's just trying to live. Ever since his parents disowned him for wanting to pursue art, he's had to let go of the idea of college so that he can just make ends meet. He works as a fake boyfriend to earn money, which so far has worked out well for him. He's categorized every Asian parent into a specific type and he makes his persona, "Andrew", fit the expectations of each type. It's worked out well so far. 

parents: 
Holy shit, I know that parents just have your best interests at heart but it made it very hard for me to even empathize with them when they tried to set Chloe up with Hongbo. Hongbo's parents only wanted Chloe for Hongbo because Chloe had a reputation as a VIRGIN?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? CHLOE'S PARENTS KNEW THIS AND THEY WERE OKAY WITH THAT BEING THE REASON TO SET HER UP WITH HONGBO? 

Anyway I have a lot more to rant, full review's on my blog: https://wiltedpages.wordpress.com/2020/11/10/book-review-rent-a-boyfriend-by-gloria-chao/
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Thank you Simon & Schuster for a gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 

I thought this was an interesting plot - I didn't realize girls actually do rent boyfriends to alleviate the pressure from their Asian parents during the holidays. This may be just me and my mood but this book dragged for me. The family struggles Chloe experienced resonated with me - the pressure to go to the "right" school, study the "right" topic and get married, etc. However, her parents were so horrible, they kind of ruined the story for me. I was frustrated with Chloe and the number of times she apologized. On the other hand, I really respected Drew and his decision to go after his dreams and happiness even at the expense of losing touch with his family. I'm sure it's easier said than done but I was really hoping for a big lightbulb moment from Chloe and I didn't get it.
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It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of YA set in college, so I was eager to dive into Gloria Chao’s newest novel, Rent a Boyfriend. Having adored American Panda, I was eager to experience her witty yet realistic storytelling centered on a first generation American college student. Chao’s latest novel did not disappoint, and at times felt full of more emotional turmoil than her fantastic debut novel.

The novel seems to have a surprising plot at first- Chloe hires a fake boyfriend through a service to bring home for the Thanksgiving holiday to get her parents off her case about pursuing a suitor of their choosing. While it’s definitely the set up of many a rom-com holiday movie, it carried extra weight in this context. As the author mentions herself, this is not necessarily an uncommon practice in Asia and in Chloe’s case it’s a last ditch, desperate effort to try to claim some independence over her life, rather than being forced into a proposal within someone who is just NOT a match for her (and not really a good person either). I really felt for Chloe trying to balance saving her parents’ feelings and reputation but also pursuing her independent wants and needs. Some of their interactions were truly heartbreaking, especially their inability to see what she wanted out of life and a partner and their skewed prioritization of the traits they wanted a husband to have for her.

I appreciated how the novel really explored Chloe’s parents’ community and provided some depth to their actions and at times alarming life advice. There’s some excellent scenes where Chloe is out with Drew (the fake boyfriend) in her Asian community and seeing her parents’ beliefs and biases echoed tenfold in their community really helped flesh out both her parents’ behavior as well as why Chloe has internalized so much resentment yet responsibility and guilt when it comes to pursuing her dreams. I thought that this was a nice touch that will help readers to understand the dynamics at play more genuinely.

While the family and personal growth aspects of the novel were engaging, the romance was often over the top and almost cheesy. I really liked Chloe and Drew as individuals and their relationship seemed to work (I also liked how they were quick to call out each other on biases and stereotypes that they had internalized from their own childhoods and pushed each other to be better) I just felt that it happened very quickly. While I loved their inside jokes (mooncakes, sheeps in anti-gravity boots, etc), I also felt that they both became invested in each other unreasonably quickly without really knowing each other that well. The romance read more high school than college to me, and when the big reveal happened it almost felt too easily resolved given the absolute heartburn and stress that Chloe’s parents had caused them (and me!) throughout a majority of the novel.

One thing I do want to emphasize is that I loved the holiday aspect of this book! For some reason I didn’t go in expecting it to be so holiday focused but given the premise I should have expected it, as Chloe “rents” Drew for Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc and Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year are also featured. I remember how in college my interactions with my family were so dependent and measurable by holiday trips back home so I thought this was a fun framework for the story!

Overall: Rent a Boyfriend is a college set YA novel that has a balance of both emotional family moments as well as fluffy romantic content. It’s truly a coming of age story of a protagonist who is trying to honor both her parents’ heritage while navigating her own identity as an American, a theme that Chao explores deftly in all of her novels. Though the romance was a little too convenient for me, I overall really enjoyed this story!
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I really loved this novel! It has a great older YA feel to it, since both of the characters are in college. The banter between the two main leads is great and really entertaining. I loved getting the two different perspectives as well. This was a great funny, romantic read for the holidays. I also loved how much I learned from this book about specific Asian customs that I was not aware of. 
Overall this is a really great read!
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I really loved reading this book! Chloe is such a charming leading lady and I love watching Drew growing with confidence. The best way I can describe the relationship that develops between them is "verisimilitude." Even though they're fake dating, their love becomes a legit thing. I also loved that throughout all this, Chloe tries to figure out how to deal with her parents. Things aren't tied up neatly in a bow, but there's hope for better things in the future. I seriously want a sequel for this!
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Omg omg omg! This is such a cute and adorable read!  Choe and Drew are very likable and relatable characters. The setting is familiar and yet fascinating. There are so many things about Chloe that I find hilarious and admirable. This is a must read for people who wants a light, unexpected romance read,
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Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao is a fun, fast-paced story that is sure to tug at your heartstrings. A refreshing read that issue to take you on an emotional roller coaster full of drama, lots of laughs, and sweet romance.
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Seriously cute, seriously touching, and seriously good. This was such a refreshing read full of so many emotions. I truly enjoyed every single page from the background of the characters, to the ethnicity, to the heart warming slow burn romance, this was a read perfect to get away for a few hours, let go, and just be.
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First of all, thank you so much to the author and Simon and Schuster for sending me an eARC of Rent a boyfriend!

I looooove me a fake relationhip1 And What I think I loved even more about Rent A Boyfriend are the ages of the 2 MCs.

Chloe's parents want her to marry Hongbo, a wealthy son of a family in her parents community. But marrying him is the last thing she wants to do. So, Chloe turns to Rent for your 'Rents, a boyfriend renting agency. In comes Drew (Andrew) who has strict rules and guidelines.

Until both of them start falling for one another, and it's becoming less and less difficult to pretend. 

Chloe is 19, and Drew is 21, so it was refreshing to read an book more geared towards older teens/college-aged readers. Though if New Adult were an ACTUAL age for publishers, I think this would fit PERFECTLY! (I'll stop before I go off on a NA rant).

This was cute and real, and so so relatable. Definitely recommend, and it's a quick, cozy read, so perfect for this Holiday season! Rating it 4.5 stars, so 5 stars!
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3.5 stars 

I am a sucker for fake dating and I loved the idea of this one. 

I really liked Chloe and Drew. They’re both smart, good people who are looking to make their place in the world. I enjoyed their instant easiness and the open communication they had. Chloe’s parents were hard to read at times. Even though I knew they meant well and loved her in their own way, some of their words and actions had me cringing. 

Plot wise, it did get a bit repetitive. Scenes and even some conversations felt like they were following a precise pattern. However, the obvious growth of both Chloe and Drew was fantastic to read and the last few chapters were some of the best. 

Overall, it was easy to root for these two and I loved the cultural aspect of it. I’m always here for the food descriptions and a lot of the food in this story sounds amazing.

**Huge thanks to Simon Pulse for providing the arc free of charge**
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I love YA, but sometimes I'm interested in reading something in between YA and typical adult novels. For a while, the industry tried to make "New Adult" a thing, but it didn't fly. But then there are authors like Gloria Chao, who gives us characters in college with a YA feel but a more adult storyline.

Rent a Boyfriend is the story of Drew and Chloe (aka Jing-Jing). Chloe is the only daughter of Taiwanese parents, and they want what's best for their Jing-Jing. However, what they believe is best is for Chloe to marry a horrible young man for his family money. In order to derail her parents' acceptance of the engagement, 

Chloe resorts to a service called Rent for your Rents, and "rents" a boyfriend to bring home for Thanksgiving. The fake "Andrew" fits all the boxes her parents want for a match, but they're so hung up on marrying her off to the rich pillar of the community that they don't want to listen to what Chloe wants.

As Chloe does her best to convince her parents to not force her into an unwanted and unhappy marriage, she continues to text with her rent-a-boyfriend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where she has to rent him again. 

The big problem is . . . Chloe and Drew find themselves falling for each other. And the real Drew isn't rich or from a rich family - he's a college dropout artist. The plot is well developed and the characters endearing. Even Chloe's overbearing parents show their softer side in the book. I very much enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend!
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This was a relatively straightforward, very simple story. Chloe (Jing) is tired of her parents bullying her to find a boyfriend. She doesn’t want to settle for Hongbo, who is a major prick and doesn’t have any interest in her anyway, so starting around Thanksgiving she hires a boy named Andrew to help convince her parents that she’s committed to dating. Of course some shenanigans happen over the course of the holiday season, and some family secrets come to light, but in the end everything works out. Light, easy read.
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