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Review ❤️ Playing House by Ruby Lang

August 16, 2019


The last thing Oliver Huang expects to see on the historic Mount Morris home tour is longtime acquaintance Fay Liu bustling up and kissing him hello. He’s happy to playact being a couple to save her from a pushy admirer. Fay’s beautiful, successful and smart, and if he’s being honest, Oliver has always had a bit of a thing for her.

Maybe more than a bit.

Geeking out over architectural details is Oliver and Fay’s shared love language, and soon they’re touring pricey real estate across Upper Manhattan as the terribly faux but terribly charming couple Darling and Olly.

For the first time since being laid off from the job he loved, Oliver has something to look forward to. And for the first time since her divorce, Fay’s having fun.

Somewhere between the light-filled living rooms and spacious closets they’ve explored, this faux relationship just may have sparked some very real feelings. For Oliver and Fay, home truly is where their hearts are.

Release Date: Aug 12, 2019
Series: Uptown
Book: 1
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Carina Press
Price: $2.99


The second house renovation book I’ve read in a month, is this a new theme?

Playing House is the first book in the Uptown series by Ruby Lang. Our protagonists are Chinese-Americans who are urban planners. I’ll be honest until this story I didn’t know such a job existed and that’s the beauty of romance, teaching me about things I never knew and with a love story to boot.

Oliver Huang and Fay Liu know each other, the circle of urban planners is small, but they’ve never hung out. At least not until the fateful day when Fay runs into Oliver and asks him to help her by pretending to be in a relationship so she can rid herself of an overbearing suitor. I make this contemporary sound so historical, but it’s true.  What starts as a simple favor quickly turns into hanging out for sheer pleasure and goes from innocent to hot as fast as you can fall backward and pull down a shower curtain.

The story itself is cute. There are modern day elements around Oliver and Fay’s careers that add conflict. From Oliver’s standpoint he’s living with his brother after being laid off, working freelance, and having to figure out if he can still be the person he’s worked so hard to become. For Fay her career is everything, after escaping a dead-end marriage, the boutique company she’s set up is her baby. Without the company who is she. When Oliver and Fay’s work life crashes with their personal adventures plenty of tension arises.

I enjoyed the characters. Oliver is just the type of hero I always end up writing, very beta and not the most adept at navigating tough conversations with anyone from Fay to his mother. His growth in the story is fun, though I wish he would have faced the conflict a bit more head on. Fay is the bull. She’s a spearhead that chargers constantly. I liked seeing her own the wheels and Oliver respecting that part of her, but found her tendency to take over with assumptions frustrating. The author doesn’t leave holes, just for me those things were turn offs.

For a novella, these characters were fully fleshed out. There are plenty of side characters to carry a series and Lang has made New York appear much more appealing to a person who’s never been there. I would be willing to go to experience the architecture alone. Overall, this is perfect for readers who enjoy Mia Sosa or Sarah Morgan.

~ Landra

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