Take me out tonight!
Iris Kelly Doesn't Date Book Cover Iris Kelly Doesn't Date
Bright Falls
Ashley Herring Blake
Paperback, Ebook, Audiobook

A fake relationship after a horrible one-night stand is anything but an act in this witty and heartfelt new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake. Everyone around Iris Kelly is in love. Her best friends are all coupled up, her siblings have partners that are perfect for them, and her parents are still blissfully married. And she’s happy for all of them, truly. Iris doesn’t want any of that—dating, love, romance. She’ll stick to her commitment-free hookups, thanks very much, except no one in her life will just let her be. Everyone wants to see her settled down, but she holds firmly to her no dating rule. There’s only one problem—Iris is a romance author facing an imminent deadline for her second book, and she’s completely out of ideas. Perfectly happy to ignore her problems as per usual, Iris goes to a bar in Portland and meets a sexy stranger, Stefania, and a night of dancing and making out turns into the worst one-night stand Iris has had in her life. To get her mind off everything, Iris tries out for the lead role in a local play, a queer retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, but comes face-to-face with Stefania, whose real name turns out to be Stevie. Desperate to save face in front of her friends, Stevie asks Iris to play along as her girlfriend. Iris is shocked, but when she realizes the arrangement might provide her with some much-needed romantic content for her book, she agrees. As the two women play the part of a happy couple, lines start to blur, and they’re left wondering who will make the real first move....

Late to the Party

Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date, but I do! I date all my book boyfriends and girlfriends, and I am happily adding Iris Kelly to my ever-growing list. This is my first Ashley Herring Blake novel. I haven’t read either of Blake’s previous novels “Delilah Green Doesn’t Care” or “Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail”, though they’ve been on my radar for a while. (If you’re new here, I love my LGBTQ romance, and I’m always filling my shelves with beautiful, bright covers.) My fellow bee, Amanda, wrote a delightfully authentic review of Delilah Green in 2022 and since then I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to dive into Bright Falls and this delightful cast of characters.

While this story is the third novel set in the same world, I don’t feel like I missed anything by starting at the most recent read. Iris is a firecracker. She’s independent and comfortable behind the walls of her “No Dating” mentality, even when her family irks her by attempting to set her up over and over again.

Stevie, on the other hand, just wants to find a relationship that she’ll be comfortable in, one where her Generalized Anxiety Disorder will simmer itself to a slight hum rather than the blaring trumpets of a marching band. Stevie, coming out of her first and only relationship, tries to hook up with Iris at a club, and the result is disastrous.

Fake Dating – My Favorite Trope

There’s no better trope in my eyes than fake dating. I wish you could feel the absolute joy that radiates in my soul as I read two adamant idiots deny until the last possible minute that their feelings for each other are real.

We all know. They know. Neither will tell the other, and both will do anything to avoid being the first to admit it.

It’s pure gold.

Iris tilted her head, swiped her thumbs over Stevie’s cheeks. “You’re sort of adorable, you know that?”

Stevie just stared at her. Iris stared back. It felt like a lifetime of just… looking. And nothing about it felt fake at all.

While Fake Dating gives me the highest highs, it also brings me the lowest lows. Insert something about it’s always darkest before dawn, too. There’s something about the third act breakup in a Fake Dating novel that guts me the hardest. The breakups are absolutely brutal and leave me feeling like I need to put the book down and stop just before it happens, so I can happily live in my peaceful little bubble of fictional bliss.

“This is… it’s New York, Stevie,” Iris Said. “And you deserve it. You belong there. I would’ve never held you back from that.”

Stevie nodded, a tear slipping down her cheek. Iris curled her hands into fists, fighting the urge to wipe it away. “But you didn’t even give me the chance,” Iris said. “You cut me out of the decision, you cut me out of being happy for you, of celebrating–“

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash

The Coven

As Amanda said in her original review of Delilah Green, the “Coven” plays an integral part of the Iris/Stevie story. While I said above that I didn’t think that I missed anything by starting at the newest published book, I might hedge that by also stating that I think had I started from Delilah, I would have more of an appreciation for the friend group. I’m sure there were some nuances of Claire, Delilah, Astrid, Jordan, and Simon that would have hit a bit differently had I gotten to know them from the beginning.

I think most specifically that the epilogue from “Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date” would be most appreciated by those who have read the entire series up until this point. Not only do Iris and Stevie get a Happily Ever After, but I think the friend group/coven does as well.

Don’t worry, I will be sure to go back and read the earlier books as soon as possible so that I’m fully immersed in the Bright Falls world. I hope you do, too, and then leave a comment telling us which couple’s book you loved the most!