“The Accidental Boyfriend” by Lori Freeland

“The Accidental Boyfriend” by Lori Freeland 663 1024 Reader Views Kids

The Accidental Boyfriend

Lori Freeland
Independently Published (2023)
ISBN: 979-8378182671
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (11/2023)

All Jessica Thorne wanted was a moment to collect her thoughts before the conference. Instead, she’s lip-locking with a (handsome) stranger and being ambushed by curious onlookers. After the intoxicating sensation of his lips wears off, Jess is instantly irritated by his arrogance. The guy, Gabriel Wade, is a famous Hollywood actor known for being a ladies’ man. He asks a bizarre request of Jess: be his pretend girlfriend for a week. What? Jess has never even kissed a boy (until five minutes ago), and now some Hollywood player wants to parade her around for all to see. No way! The introverted teen author already has enough on her plate—like dodging deadlines for her upcoming book and dealing with a raging case of imposter syndrome.

But there’s something about him.

Gabe needs to create a diversion to stave off the hungry paparazzi. No one can know the real reason he is in town. When he spots quirky, adorable Jess, he knows he’s found the perfect decoy—if only she’ll agree. The hello-kitty-loving, bookish beauty is unlike any girl he’s ever met—she’s unimpressed by his fame, immune to his charms, and not afraid to put him in his place. (And he finds it irresistible!)

Could Gabriel Wade be falling for his pretend girlfriend for real?

Unlike its ambiguous title, everything about this coming-of-age novel was purposefully curated—from the witty banter between characters and the absorbing storyline to the familiar feelings that channeled my inner teen and tugged at my heartstrings. Lori Freeland knew what she was doing when she crafted “The Accidental Boyfriend.” Uproariously funny rom-com meets sweet teenage romance, young adult readers will be swooning over Jess and Gabe’s complicated, pretend-turned-real relationship.

It wasn’t just intense flirting and sarcastic quips; the young adult book explored heavier themes like family dysfunction. Despite their completely different lifestyles, Jess and Gabe could agree on one thing—you can’t choose your family, nor can you erase their shameful secrets and sordid pasts. Building a wall is sometimes easier than letting people in. Shattered by her mother’s drinking and her father’s perpetual rejection, Jess protected her heart by withdrawing from the world. After grappling with his once-famous mom’s reality, Gabe tried to protect his family by hiding behind his fake Hollywood persona because it was easier than being himself. Somehow, both characters knew what the other needed and showed readers that vulnerability isn’t a weakness; sometimes, it is precisely what is necessary to evolve and overcome adversity.

In this coming-of-age novel, readers will be quickly reeled in by the giggle-inducing antics and the burgeoning romance between Gabe and Jess. Their unconventional premise added another layer of intrigue, and teen readers will find the characters’ familial plight relatable. Moreover, Lori Freeland has done an excellent job of creating flawed but lovable protagonists, and I could easily see “The Accidental Boyfriend” being adapted for the big screen.

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