While my romance interests generally lie towards historical, I’ve been reading more and more contemporary in 2022. Would You Rather by Allison Ashley is a contemporary marriage of convenience meets friends to lovers romance about Mia and Noah, two childhood friends who marry to secure insurance for Mia when she goes back to school.

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The summary, from Amazon:

“Pitch-perfect…gives me all the feels, and I love every one of them!”—Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis  

Would you rather play it safe in the friend zone, or risk it all with a modern marriage of convenience?

Noah and Mia have always been best friends, and their friendship is the most important thing to them. Life is going great for Noah and he’s up for a promotion in a job he loves. ButMia’s life is on hold as she awaits a kidney transplant. She’s stuck in a dead-end job and, never wanting to be a burden, has sworn off all romance. So when the chance of a lifetime comes to go back to school and pursue her dream, it’s especially painful to pass up. She can’t quit her job or she’ll lose the medical insurance she so desperately needs.

To support her, Noah suggests they get married—in name only—so she can study full-time and still keep the insurance. It’s a risk to both of them, with jobs, health and hearts on the line, and they’ll need to convince suspicious coworkers and nosy roommates that they’re the real deal. But if they can let go of all the baggage holding them back, they might realize that they would rather be together forever.

Buy Would You Rather here.

Noah and Mia are lifelong friends who never considered a romance. Well… They’ve considered it, but never done much about it. One night in college, the possibility of attraction between them was brought up, but shortly after, devastation struck. Mia was diagnosed with a kidney disease and Noah’s brother, Nathan, died in a car accident within the same week. In order to navigate through the difficult times, the two friends communicated that they didn’t want to pursue a relationship and that there was nothing between them, despite the fact that this was untrue for both of them.

Now, quite some time has passed. Noah and Mia are in their early thirties and have remained close. Mia receives an opportunity to go back to college. She dropped out when she became ill. She’s passionate about becoming a dietician, but in order to go back to school, she can’t work full time. It’s imperative Mia has a job with good healthcare benefits because of her disease, particularly as she is waiting to hear about a kidney transplant – after that she will be eligible for Medicare. Noah is her coworker at an architectural firm his father helped found. He suggests that they pretend to have been secretly dating and marry to secure insurance for Mia so she can go back to school full time. It takes some though and convincing, but Mia agrees. The two move in together to make their relationship look real, which is essential when a coworker up for the same promotion as Noah reveals that he overheard their plan and blackmails Noah into giving up the promotion.

Mia and Noah both have a lot to get through before they can make their relationship work. This is a slow burn, with the two friends living together for some time before their hidden emotions come to a head. Would You Rather is a closed door romance, showing some hot kissing scenes but fading to black before anything gets steamy – though there’s plenty of indication that once these two are able to admit their feelings to one another, there’s plenty of sex happening off the page. But love isn’t always enough. In order to make this marriage go from convenient to for real, both Noah and Mia need to face their biggest fears when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. It felt a little cheesy at times, and I did think it was strange so many people cared about Mia and Noah committing insurance fraud outside of their blackmailer. Healthcare is wild in America. Do what you gotta do. This was a 3 star read for me that I think other readers who like their romances sweet, cheesy, and spice-free will appreciate even more than I did.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Would You RatherWould You Rather by Allison Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is sweet and a little corny. A solid friends-to-lovers marriage of convenience. Mia and Noah have been best friends since childhood. They’ve had feelings for one another at least since college, but never acted on them. They almost did, but then a bunch of events unfolded that caused them to claim they were “just friends” – Noah’s brother died in a car accident he blames himself for and Mia received a diagnosis with a kidney disease in the same week. Now, Mia and Noah are coworkers. Mia has received the opportunity to go back to college to earn a degree she is passionate about, but she needs her full time job for insurance. Noah offers to marry her so she can be on his policy. She agrees, and old feelings that never went away get brought up when the two share a house together so coworkers don’t suspect that they’re committing fraud. (Though aside from the one blackmailing coworker, I don’t see why anyone would care. If you need to marry for insurance coverage, I don’t blame you.) Mia and Noah both have some personal issues to work through to make their marriage work and they help one another through them until they see that what they really need to do is give one another a little space to fully grow. (There’s still a HEA! They just acknowledge the codependency.) Didn’t love it, but I liked it.

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Book Club Questions

  1. Explain the relationship dynamic between Noah and Mia.
  2. What is Noah’s fear? Is it rational? How does he overcome it?
  3. What is Mia’s fear? Is it rational? How does she overcome it?
  4. How do Noah and Mia help one another overcome their fears and how do they move past them independently?
  5. Explain Mia’s relationship with her parents.
@daily.manifestationx If you’re looking for a no spice romance, may I suggest… cw: kidney disease, hospital scenes #booktok #romancebooktok ♬ original sound – Marissa

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