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The Fiancée Farce


The Fiancée Farce

If the cover of Alexandria Bellefleur’s THE FIANCÉE FARCE evokes a queer sendup of cheesy old-timey romance novel covers, that’s by design. After all, the whole plot gets its start because bookstore employee Tansy Adams, casting about for a fake love interest she can use to get her meddling family off her back, claims to be dating Gemma West, the romance novel cover model who has captured her imagination.

So imagine Tansy’s shock and mortification when Gemma of all people comes stumbling into her stepcousin’s wedding. But even more surprisingly, when Gemma learns about Tansy’s fake relationship, she not only plays along, she raises the stakes --- and announces they’ve gotten engaged.

"Bellefleur continues to spin delightfully different queer romances, and THE FIANCÉE FARCE is the best of the bunch so far."

Tansy can’t figure out what kind of game Gemma is playing, until they get some time alone and Gemma explains. It turns out that her real last name is van Dalen, as in Van Dalen Publishing, one of the world’s leading newspaper and magazine publishers. Much to the surprise of the rest of her family, her recently deceased grandfather’s will has named Gemma as the heir to the company --- but only if she is married by the end of the year.

And what’s in this farce for Tansy? The possible salvation of her small independent bookstore, which has been in her family for decades but is now --- after the deaths of her parents --- at risk as her stepmother is threatening to sell to a mega-retailer. Money is no object to Gemma, who offers to buy the bookstore for Tansy if Tansy agrees to go along with her little plan. They can be fiancées (and eventually spouses) in name only. According to the terms of the will, they need to stay married for two years, at which point they can go their separate ways. But what if, after spending more time together, they don’t want the affair to be in name only?

THE FIANCÉE FARCE is a madcap marriage of convenience rom-com, filled to the hilarious brim with well-drawn supporting characters, especially Gemma’s large family and riotous roommates. These include plenty of people, such as Gemma’s odious cousin Tucker, who are truly rotten to the core. But other characters possess hidden and sometimes surprising depths, and at least one starts out sympathetic but winds up being something else entirely. The scheming, superficial van Dalens might appeal to fans of “Succession,” but the real draw here is the growing attraction between Gemma and Tansy, who soon come to realize they have much more in common than just a business arrangement.

Bellefleur continues to spin delightfully different queer romances, and THE FIANCÉE FARCE is the best of the bunch so far.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 22, 2023

The Fiancée Farce
by Alexandria Bellefleur

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2023
  • Genres: Comedy, Fiction, Humor, Romance
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Avon
  • ISBN-10: 0063258498
  • ISBN-13: 9780063258495