The Dating Game

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Pub Date 10 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 10 Sep 2021

Description

The must-read romantic comedy for fans of Laura Jane Williams, Sophie Ranald and Sophie Kinsella.

Hilarious and highly original’
Julie Houston, bestselling author of A Village Affair

Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .

Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.

When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.

The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all . . .

The must-read romantic comedy for fans of Laura Jane Williams, Sophie Ranald and Sophie Kinsella.

Hilarious and highly original’
Julie Houston, bestselling author of A...


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ISBN 9780008509316
PRICE A$11.99 (AUD)

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Average rating from 314 members


Featured Reviews

This was a hilarious look at reality dating shows and what happens when the cameras aren't rolling. The characters were well-written and hilarious. There were times I was laughing out loud while reading! I love the details of Australia and where the scenes in the show were shot - I never would have known those tidbits about the Sydney Opera House! This rom-com ends as you expect, but the journey along the way is very entertaining! Definitely grab this one! Thank you to Net Galley for the free copy to use in my review. All opinions are my own.

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A cute, quick and easy read based around reality shows, dating shows and the culture that goes with that. A whole cast of characters and some genuinely funny, laugh out loud parts make this a fab summer read

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I loved this! I couldn't put it down. A genuinely funny book with just as much 'rom' as 'com', and a premise that's so good I can't believe no one's done it before. I enjoyed Ms Barker's previous books, but this one is the best so far - her writing goes from strength to strength. The relationship between the two leads is sweet and lovely and completely believable, while the friendships (and otherwise) between the 'Does' is by turns hilarious and heartwarming. I'm not really one for TV reality dating shows, but that didn't matter - the fictional show is clearly explained and you don't have to be a fan of the Batchelor to get the jokes. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a swoon-worthy hero and an intelligent, witty heroine.

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What a cute romcom! Set in the world of reality television shows this book reads like a bachelor episode. I was really captivated by the main characters and couldn’t wait for them to end up together.

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Writing under and funneling her confidence into her alter ego/pen name, Anastasia, Abby Jones heads a gossip article covering The Stag, a top reality dating show. Anastasia is supposed to be a means to an end, padding Abby’s pocket while she yearns for serious investigative journalism. The last thing plain, self-conscious Abby expects is when her editor demands she go undercover on The Stag as a contestant. From nearly being eaten by an elevator and rescued by the charming crew man, Jack, to being whisked into an Australian manor with eleven agenda-minded women, and one gorgeous, but twatty bachelor, Abby’s world is turned topsy turvy. Can she navigate bullies, friendships, a second alter ego for the show, writing as Anastasia while in the thick of it, and a growing attraction to a man not on the menu? It’s difficult to be one woman, let alone three. The Dating Game is a cheeky, charming roller coaster adventure of reality dating television and friendships. Abby’s PG Belle de Jour narration makes for high entertainment. A sweet, slow-burn, budding romance sets the stage for heart flutters throughout. Barker has crafted a thoughtfully hilarious, heartfelt romcom. A brilliantly developed, beautifully humorous romance. The hot-blooded American in me needs more Jack and Abby.

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A fantastic fun read, filled with fabulous characters and an interesting story. It was brilliant watching Abby infiltrate the reality show as she also wrote her funny recaps about the show. Cue a hilarious time as she tries to be on both sides of the show, complicated by an unexpected attraction to someone who isn’t the stag she should be trying to woo! I really enjoyed the concept of this book, it was a captivating and amusing story that had me turning the pages well into the night as I had to find out what was going to happen next!

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SO FUN! As an avid Bachelor watcher, I freaking LOVED reading this book! I rooted for these characters in this slow burn romance and Barker made me fall in love more than once with the story. I cannot WAIT to read more from this author!

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What a fun book! Abby is an undercover journalist who writes snarky recaps of the reality tv dating show The Stag (The Bachelor to US fans). She thinks the show is totally fake and literally has the best snarky recaps which she publishes under a pen name. Only problem is one of those recaps goes viral, and now production and her boss want her to go on the show undercover as a contestant. She is a firm believer that nobody can actually fall in love on one of these shows… or can they? What I loved most about this book, besides the belly laughs and incredible scenes, was experiencing Abby’s date in first person and then reading her hilarious recap of that episode, which shows the duality. This book reminded me of Miss Congeniality in a way with all those women and Abby, our heroine as the undercover doe. If you are looking for a laugh out loud romcom this is for you.

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Thank you NetGalley,HarperCollins UK and One More Chapter for the eARC. The Dating Game by Sandy Barker out September 2021. I absolutely adored every minute of this cheeky, fun, romantic novel set in the world of reality dating on television. Writer Abby Jones goes undercover as a contestant on "The Stag" a high rated dating show on television to find out all the juicy backstage gossip and drama for her editorial piece. She travels to Australia thinking of nothing worse she could be doing until she meets handsome Producer Jack.. The characters were abundance and wonderful and witty and the storyline was cleverly mastered throughout. An original.

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I was given a free copy of this novel by NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review. In this endearing novel, Abigail Jones or ‘Undercover Abby’ joins the cast of the British/Australian Reality TV show The Stag. ie the Bachelor. In attempt to maintain and enhance her writing career Abby juggles three personas as she describes the interactions between the Stag and the Does, all rivals for his affection , in snarky episode summaries for her online magazine employer under the pseudonym Anastasia Blabbbergasted. Throughout the filming, Doe Abby forms friendships with other does, untangles behind the scenes webs of intrigue, and tries to avoid the advances of Daniel ‘The Stag’ while Abigail finds a love of her own. I highly recommend this thoughtful, humorous novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance! I look forward to reading other novels by the talented Sandy Barker.

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The idea behind this book is just great! Especially with me reading this while watching season 7 of love island, it feels like a fun insight to the behind the scenes of a show like that when the cameras aren't rolling. I really enjoyed reading about the does and dickhead Daniel and can definitely see myself falling for a guy like Jack or even Harry. Would definitely recommend this book! Just want to know what happens next!

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I loved this book! It was so funny sometimes I found myself laughing out loud. For those in the US - this is like the Bachelor being filmed with an inside journalist as a contestant. It’s easy to see how contestants could get caught up in the competition or be confused about falling in love. Abby’s take on the situation is hilarious and down to earth. A quick, light-hearted beach read.

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Reality TV is all the rage these days. Survive on an isolated island or find love whilst battling a dozen other beauts or beaus... Sandy Barker delivers a one-two punch with The Dating Game! Abby is a writer; a serious writer who moonlights as a snarky dating show synopsis weaver with an outrageous moniker. Hiding behind this persona, she is commanded to go undercover as a contestant on the latest iteration of a popular British dating production that will take place in Sydney, Australia. Enter the squees as she embarks on an adventure that she quite gets tangled up in. The Stag, or male prize at the end of the show, turns out to be a total lout, but there are antics abound by the other female contestants. Abby is drawn to one of the crew on the show, and she learns several lessons about herself along the way. The snark is marvelous as the reader delves into the "behind the scenes" of mansion life with so many women, mostly all vying for the same prize. There are plenty of laugh out loud sequences, and times where you are on the edge wondering just how Abby will get out of a scrape. There are villains that you will love to hate, and the sweet ladies you will love to adore. Reading this makes me wonder just how "put on" these reality tv shows really are! It was very enjoyable, and I found it hard to put it down at times. Thank you to HaperCollins UK, Sandy Barker, and NetGalley for this ARC. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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I adored this romantic comedy. I’d have thought the clue in the title would explain to some of the reviewers here that it is not supposed to change your world view. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s a candid look at the world of ‘reality television’. The format of the book does not make it clear when it is the main character’s POV vs when she is writing as ‘Flabbergasted’, but that is not the author’s fault. Once you work it out as the reader, it is clearer as the tone is quite different, as is the use of hyperbole and other styles to help delineate the two different POVs. I enjoyed the expose of ‘reality television’, especially when it comes to ‘finding love’ - and how manufactured it is. Whilst there are a lot of characters to keep track of, I didn’t get confused at any point as to who was who and the storyline is really fun. I hadn’t expected to find myself crying happy tears, but they were well deserved for the author’s plot, themes, and characters. I’ve read Sandy’s other books - a trilogy and a stand alone Christmas book - ‘The Dating Game’ has become my new favourite.

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Yes, yes, yes! As a lover of all reality TV shows and romcoms, this book is it!!!! I don't even want to give anything away because I loved this book. It was such a fun, cute, and easy read!! I've been reading some books that take a lot of energy to get through and this book was such a breath of fresh air! In love. 10/10.

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Hi everyone! I absolutely adored this book. It was the perfect beach read! This book is about a writer that goes on a dating show (something like the bachelor), but she doesn’t find love in the conventional way. The writing style is perfect for this genre: fast paced and entertaining. Even if you know from the beginning who the main character is going to fall for, it was intriguing and full of surprises. In conclusion, if you like dating shows and reality tv this might be the perfect book for you. I’m also going to watch for new books by this author!

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I loved this! A funny insight into reality TV shows and what goes on behind the scenes. A modern-day romantic tale that was easy to read and unputdownable!

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I loved this perfect, feelgood summer read. The Dating Game is a gorgeous slow-burn romance with whip-smart humour threaded through every page. Abby has been coerced into taking part on a dating show in Sydney to help inform her as she writes snarky reviews of each episode as her hilarious alter-ego, Anastasia. Whilst there, her relationship builds with the handsome producer, Jack, and I was rooting for them to get together all the way through. This book isn't a simple romance though, it is also a book that testifies to the strength of female friendship even when these women are pitted against each other. Sandy Baker writes with such wit and warmth that it’s impossible not to get totally invested in this story and I frequently laughed out loud as we followed Abby and the other Does from one hideous Stag date to another. Wonderful, feelgood romcom escapism and highly recommended.

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Having lapped up Sandy Barker's previous novels, I was extremely excited to get a chance to read The Dating Game, her highly anticipated next release. And I was not disappointed! Abby is a woman with dreams of becoming a serious journalist. But right now, she's ended up on a gig where she writes as her alter-ego, Anastasia Blabbergasted, a hilarious gossip columnist whose recaps of reality shows grasp the attention of the masses. Somehow, she ends up being railroaded into taking part in The Stag (think The Batchelor), purely for fly on the wall, research purposes, where she is asked to pretend to be one of the Does (the women hoping to be chosen by The Stag), so she can get close to the action, and write really juicy recaps of the newest series. So that is Abigail the journalist Abby the Doe and Anastasia the columnist. Quite a lot of personas for one person to juggle! What she didn't expect was to feel the flutterings of romance building up from a totally different source, as well as finding out she really likes some of her fellow contestants! Okay, so if you are looking for a straight-up romance, it ain't gonna necessarily come from this book, but that doesn't mean, by any way, shape, or means that there isn't any sizzle. Add to that, the fact that he's a hot Aussie hunk... who isn't The Stag... There is hidden romance and plenty of laughs, so it firmly sits in the Rom-Com sector, for me. I do love a bit of reality TV, and having watched series like The Batchelor, it was great to get a feel for what possibly happens behind the scenes! The dynamics between a group of women vying for the attention of one man, for very, very different reasons, was a great avenue to explore. Add in all the different locations they visit on dates, in and around Sydney, and I felt like I was on holiday, myself! (Much needed in this climate, I'll have you know!) A fun, light-hearted read to give you a giggle! Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins Uk and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a delightful romantic comedy with engaging characters, witty humor, and a lovely slow-build romance. The sparkling writing carries the reader along effortlessly, in several places causing me to laugh out loud. The story has all the best features of the '80s and '90's-era heyday of romantic comedy movies. The film Miss Congeniality is referenced and the heroine definitely has that Sandra Bullock vibe! The reader looking for an effervescent light read with a sweet romance will enjoy this one.

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I adored this book. It was such a fun read and completely fit my romance mood. I’ve been watching Love Island recently and I love The Selection and some Bachelor type books I’ve read on Wattpad so this book fits right in with that theme. The Dating Game follows Abby, a writer, who writes recaps under a pseudonym about a dating show The Stag. One of her recaps goes viral and her editor and the director of the show want Abby to participate and write her recaps with first-hand experience. Abby eventually agrees as her career depends on it and what follows is a whirlwind holiday in Sydney, with romance involved of course! ‘I don’t want to be with you, because I’ve fallen for someone else.’ I adored the growing romance between Abby and Jack, a producer on the show. Due to his job, their relationship has many obstacles to overcome. I always find books set on a dating show so fascinating and this was no different. The friendships that were formed between the girls were great, particularly that of Becca and Abby. Although, that friendship also had to deal with many bumps along the road due to the fact they were supposedly competing for the heart of the Bachelor, who has taken a liking to Abby. This book was very enjoyable and I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting! I highly recommend if you love romance, dating shows and swoon-worthy characters!

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The Dating Game by Sandy Barker stars Abby Jones, a woman with dreams of being a serious writer that ends up writing recaps of reality shows like "The Stag" under her pseudonym Anastasia Blabbergasted. When her most recent recap goes viral, she is voluntold by her agent that the producers want her on the show as a plant to get the juiciest gossip to write more recaps. This one was so much fun! I loved that it went further than a typical romance, and focused on the dynamics of the "Does" with some romance sprinkled in later. This was a funny, light-hearted read!

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This book is the reality of now, with all the reality dating shows around. Abby who writes reviews of the reality tv show gets invited to actually participate in the dating show. Loved the book, and an easy read.

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Wow, this was a fantastic book. We follow Abby, a journalist who recaps reality TV online. After a particularly popular recap, she's invited to join the cast of The Stag as an undercover contestant. I loved all the behind the scenes bits and how relationships developed between Abby and the other girls, not just with her love interest. If you don't particularly like smut in your romance books this is perfect for you.

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To be completely transparent, I requested this because I've been watching Love Island and wanted to get a quick hit of drama. I wasn't expecting this to be as great as it is. Barker's managed to write THE rom-com of the summer as far as I'm concerned. This book is charming and funny, and the romance is suuuuch a compelling slow-burn. This was a joy to read and I cannot recommend it enough for anyone who's looking for something light-hearted and engaging.

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While this didn’t feel like Sandy’s usual ‘armchair travel’ books, I thoroughly enjoyed The Dating Game and found it a fun and easy read. It was full of this author’s trademark warmth, wit and emotional angst. The story was also very original (there aren’t many books around that are set in the middle of a reality TV dating show) and there was heaps of friendship, and female solidarity, which Sandy is particularly good at - as well as a hot love interest. I was really rooting for the main character Abby, but I was also emotionally invested in seeing how the other Does would fare, and what they’d do. This book was much more than a light read about an undercover girl who falls in love with a guy she can’t have - it was also about identity, and believing in yourself and what you have to offer the world. Reading this after a long day at work was refreshing and like relaxing with a friend for a chat with a glass of wine to hand. With thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.

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I absolutely love rom com/ chick lit books. I mean what's not to love, romantic storylines, a will they won't they tossle, funny laugh out loud moments, a uplifting book that will make you smile from ear to ear. All this plus great characters, great settings and the ability to take you away from all the mess and worry in the world at the moment can be found inside this book. Loved it.

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While I know that reality TV isn’t quite real, I was not prepared for the revelations I found in Sandy Barker’s latest romcom, “The Dating Game”. The deception begins right from the start, with the contestants for the show, known as the Does, arriving one by one in chauffer driven limousines, fresh from their fabulous lives in the outside world. Or so the makers of the show would have us believe. In reality, the Does are already billeted within the walls of The Manor, and the chauffer is merely taking them on laps of the driveway. But the scam is about to be blown right open by our girl, Abbey. Roped into the muck-raking assignment by the lifestyle mag she writes a weekly column for, this intrepid reporter goes deep undercover. She infiltrates the ranks of the Does to get the inside dirt on what really goes on when the cameras stop rolling. Abbey sends intelligence to the outside world from a secret location, hidden within the bowels of The Manor. Her missives take the form of weekly recaps, written under the pseudonym of her acid-penned alter ego, Anastasia Blabbergasted. However, this double agent has a secret mission of her own; to write an in-depth exposé on the exploitative nature of contests like The Stag, and so launch her career as a serious investigative journalist. But when things start to get real, with friendship and true love at stake, Abbey considers aborting the mission she was forced to accept. Sandy Barker’s romance novels are always light-hearted and fun, and this one is no exception. The passages where Anastasia recounts the goings on at The Manor are hilarious and insightful, but the biggest surprise of all was the genuine camaraderie and friendships between the competitors. A fun and entertaining good time read, from a writer who always offers an escapist delight.

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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy. “A funny, laugh out loud read” If you love watching reality shows like Love Island, you’ll love reading this book. Abby, who is the main character I found really interesting. She wants to be a journalist, and at the moment, writes recaps for reality TV shows for an online website under a different name. The way she writes these has made her popular. So much so, that the producer of The Stag, asks her editor if Abby can be a contestant on the next season. Thinking her recaps will be so much better and for the show too. She starts doing this as it’s her job, but in the end it becomes a life-changing experience. Abby is firm in her belief that no one actually falls in love on these shows…. or do they? The things I loved this book, apart from the laughing moments and some incredible scenes, was witnessing Abby’s date as if I was there and also, reading her write up of it, which showed how she changes personality. So, if you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud, then this is for you. Highly Recommend It

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I must admit that I wasn't immediately taken with this book, it didn't hook me from the first page but I kept reading and was so glad that I did as it turned into an amazing book. I loved the concept of behind the scenes reality tv and it does make you question just how much of the 'fiction story' would potentially really happen on those reality tv shows this is clearly based on. I loved the dynamics of Abby and Jack and enjoyed that even though this is ultimately a love story it is also about strong women looking out for each other and I really enjoyed the interaction between the does, especially Kaz, I would love to have another story all about Kaz!!!

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A light, fun read with relatable, well developed characters. A perfect beach read, I devoured this in a day and would highly recommend

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Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins Uk! I thought this was such a cute fun read. It reminded me of the Bachelor in Paradise and I loved it! I enjoyed the two leads and truly found myself laughing out loud while reading! Would absolutely recommend. to anyone who likes rom-coms or the bachelor series!

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This. Was. Everything. I loved this. It was totally laugh out loud funny, hysterical and the PERFECT end of summer read. For anyone who loves or loves to hate reality TV and dating shows (Looking at you Bachelor in Paradise) this will be right up your alley!

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Do you follow #thebachelor on Twitter faithfully on Monday nights? Read tell-all’s from former contestants? Watch Unreal for all the behind the scenes action? If you said yes, this book is for you! This fun novel is all about a journalist who writes snarky recaps of “The Stag” online. She’s invited to come on the show undercover to get all the behind the scenes dirt, and hijinks ensue. There fillers, villains (aka the bitches), dark horses, and brides all living dorm style in a swank mansion in Sydney. Who will find love? Who will leave broken-hearted? Will it be the most dramatic season of The Stag yet?

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It's not a surprise at all that Sandy Barker's writing is simply going from strength to strength. Many of us have loved and devoured her previous books-namely the Holiday Romance series and The Christmas Swap-and this, believe me, will be right up there, if not your new fave. Taking a highly relatable reality TV format such as 'The Bachelor' , the reader cannot help but be drawn into the crazy, multi-faceted (and two-faced, or is it three-faced!?) world of undercover journalist, 'Abby'. She goes behind the scenes on 'The Stag' to uncover and secretly report on the world within the mansion, culminating in a hilarious series of episode recaps that offer insight into the manufactured nature of reality TV. The writing is sharp, clever, and imbued with just the right amount of sarcasm and wit. Sandy's mastery of first person narrative is engrossing, and I felt like I walked every inch of Abigail's journey with her: the dates, the other Does, the 'blossoming relationship' (won't give any more away!). I loved Abigail from the first page, and the character descriptions (particularly of the Does) were laugh out loud hilarious - as to be expected from Sandy. Honestly, if you're after a rom com with all the feels and plenty of laughs, this is the one you need to reach for right now. Thanks to NetGalley and OMC for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept me investing. If you like reality TV, you will love this book!

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This book was such much fun! Abby is a sarcastic, sassy, writer who wants to be a serious journalist but writes a celebrity gossip column for the time being. She's really good at it too. When she writes an especially dishy recap of the new season of dating show, The Stag, their producers decide to have her go undercover as one of the contestants so she can write even better recaps. Abby is horrified at the mere idea, but her boss is ecstatic to score such a close partnership with a media magnate like that. So, against her better judgement, Abby goes undercover as a contestant with strict rules (and a nondisclosure agreement) to not let anyone know who she really is. Of course, she wasn't figuring on falling for one of the producers of the show, Jack. He's the only one who knows who she really is and she can truly be herself around him. But she's supposed to be falling for the Stag. Or is he supposed to be falling for her? Her life is turning into a mess and she can't keep up with the script. All she knows is that she lives in the UK and Jack lives in Australia and even though his eyes are to die for, and he truly has the world's most perfect lips, how in the world can anything come of it? And which version of herself is the real one anyway? The Abby on the show, the Abby who wants to write real journalism, or the Abby who writes celebrity gossip. Are they all facets of the same Abby? How can it all turn out? Besides Abby and Jack, there is a delightful cast of characters including the other women on the dating show and the Stag himself is a lot of fun to hate. In truth, he's not THAT bad, but no Prince Charming either. Anyone who's guilty pleasure is reality dating shows will love this delightful book. It's fast-paced, funny, and just good fun.

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Easily my favourite book from Sandy Barker so far. This is a fantastic look featuring a dating game show The Stag. Abby who has written scathing recaps for previous seasons, has now been asked to be a contestant on this new series to be able to provide even better insight in her recaps. Abby is a rather reluctant contestant, and watching her deal with everything with multiple hats on is rather impressive. I loved seeing how Abby deals with all the situations, her thoughts on the Stag, and her fellow does, as well on the stunning Sydney backdrop. In addition the recaps of each episode are pure Gold, and greatly entertaining. This was pure escapism from start to finish and I greatly enjoyed every last word of this book. i felt as though I was right there on the set of The Stag too. Just wonderful! Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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I seriously enjoyed this book. It's a little slow to start as it introduces Abby and gets her to Sydney, but once she arrives at Stag Manor the book really gets going. This is a story about love, but it's also a story about friendship, as the friendships Abby makes among some of the Does drive the story just as much if not more than the eventual love story. I was a little apprehensive at the start, given Abby's rather catty review of the previous season of the Stag, and yes, some of the Does are written as Fillers or out-and-out Villains, but the majority of them are layered and complex characters with their own voices and motivations (and given the cast list is at the back, reducing some of the Does to stereotypes does help one keep track of who's who). Her mum gets one of the best scenes in the book. Abby is a hoot and her recaps are entertaining if sometimes confusingly entwined with her inner monologue (I received an ARC so I'm hoping the formatting will make the distinction clearer in the final copy). I enjoyed watching her mature and learn to reconcile her multiple identities (Abigail Jones, would-be journalist; 'Doe Abby', hopeful contestant; Anastasia Blabbergasted, witty recapper) in order to claim her own happy ending. Laugh-out-loud and deliciously entertaining, this book has all the drama of a so-called reality show but no celebrities were harmed in the making! Best enjoyed with a fruity cocktail while wearing some strappy stilettos Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley; all opinions are my own

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If you’re looking for something deep and thought provoking, this isn’t for you but if you’re looking for a quick, fun read with a side of laughs, you’ve hit the jackpot! This was a great rom com!

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