First Comes Like – Published 2020
“Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.
There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.
The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…
When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?” – Goodreads
Near the beginning of COVID, I found Girl Gone Viral on Hoopla and absolutely adored it. I then read The Right Swipe (which actually is the first in this series), and loved that, too. So, when I was accepted to receive an ARC of this book, I was SO excited. A HUGE thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for the ARC ebook and the finished copy!
All three could be read as standalones, as they focus on a different romance within a tight knit group of friends/roommates, but knowing each character’s backstory adds an additional layer. This book is far less steamy than the first two, but incredibly sweet. Jia’s journey to love has its troubles (catfishing, fake dating/engagement), but is just so fun to read.
Jia is Muslim, Pakistani, and wears a hijab. Dev is a Bollywood star who has just moved to the US. Because of their backgrounds and their family’s traditional and conservative values, this might seem like a slow burn romance, but I saw it more as just tender and sweet. It wasn’t insta-love, but their chemistry was evident from the get, and they took their time getting there, both out of respect for one another, their families, and themselves.
There’s plenty of family drama and baggage, hiccups along the way with their plan to fake an engagement, and real life in the way, which gives this sweet romance some extra depth. I really enjoyed it, and I liked the present day connections (it’s evident some characters had COVID, and TikTok is implied as well as Instagram, influencers, etc).
Absolutely recommend this series if you haven’t read any of the books yet. And there’s gotta be another one coming, right? Lakshmi’s story is next, right?!