that of Farrah Rochon The Dating Game Book is an absolute game, full of humor, brilliant jokes and, of course, sex appeal.
Taylor Powell is the owner of Taylor’d Conditioning, a fitness and nutrition company. And while she might be the queen of cheeky comebacks, she’s sadly on a downward spiral when it comes to her career. In the wake of sketchy business decisions, a new opportunity gone bad, and a failed romance not quite ready for prime time (you might recognize her as one of the three best friends in the Rochon’s critically acclaimed film The boyfriend project), Taylor has a rough day ahead – and she doesn’t want to accept any help from her friends.
Jamar Dixon, aka ‘Diesel’ Dixon, is the former star of the Texas Longhorns, a fictional NFL team. His performances on the pitch made him a superstar, but a devastating knee injury definitely sidelined him – at least according to team medics. However, Jamar disagrees with the diagnosis. He’s determined to return to the NFL and the game he loves, while also keeping a promise made to a childhood friend. All he needs is the best personal trainer he can find – and one who is willing to keep their coach / client relationship top secret. Falling short of his goal is one thing, but failing under the spotlight of social media and the scrutiny of NFL agents, players and fans is something he won’t risk.
When Taylor’s rent is due, she promotes a free fitness class on her YouTube and Instagram channels to boost business. Jamar shows up looking for an aggressive, unrestricted fitness program, and Taylor fits the bill. But when he offers her the coaching job, she shuts it down – she’s had to deal with too many handsome men who start out interested in hiring a coach but end up mostly prowling around. Also, Jamar’s physique doesn’t seem to need his help.
Taylor finally gave in; her shrinking bank account needs attention. But there’s a catch: they have to play by his rules, but Jamar has a rule or two of his own (no spoilers). Compromise works until a TMZ-style sports reporter stumbles them. So, sure, the only thing you can do is pretend you’re dating so no one understands what’s really going on.
Rochon has created two endearing and perfectly imperfect main characters that you’ll want to wrap up in hugs in the first ten pages of the book. There’s a lot to like here, but the dialogue shines through, a home run from start to finish. Taylor and Jamar’s verbal back-and-forths are simply irresistible.
Some of the funniest scenes happen as the couple tackle Taylor’s workouts, especially on this mountain hike:
“Is it a compass? Jamar asked.
She laughed at the disbelief in his tone. “Why do you seem so surprised?” “
He took his phone out of his pocket, ran his thumb across the screen, then handed it to her. “I don’t know if you know, but those cool little computers that fit in your pocket? They’ve got a compass.”
“Ha ha, smart …”
There are more that will tickle you, but personally I can’t forget the moment when Taylor compares Jamar to Lenny Kravitz or when Dave Chappelle’s name drops with hilarious results. The grocery store scene with the vegetables is also a classic, and Taylor’s preference for Chinese eggplant over all the others is, well, … oh, my gosh, so funny! You may need to put the book down so you can stop laughing and wipe the tears of joy from your eyes.
The humor is top notch, but the emotional journey is also well put together.
Brotherhood, deep friendships and family ties are just as important as romance in The Dating Game Book. Samiah and London, two of three women (Taylor being the third) who formed a pleasant bond at The boyfriend project return to the new novel; Taylor needs a little more love, support, wisdom and humor because she has a secret fear that she’s been hiding since she first stepped foot in a classroom. . But the ladies support her.
Rochon also doesn’t forget Taylor’s family – their brutal yet loving dynamic runs throughout the book and shows up in the big finish. All of them high achievers, Taylor’s self-esteem can take a hit around them at times – his father, the Colonel, is a long-time and well-respected military, and his mother a central prosecutor. But it’s her brother who likes to show her professional successes her face, she believes, and it’s him who takes her self-confidence for a ride.
While the ending might have had one too many threads to conclude, Rochon’s central love story unfolds beautifully with inspiration, heart, and soul. Taylor and Jamar are magical – they will keep you captivated from the beginning of the book until the last word.
Denny S. Bryce is the author of the historical novel Wild women and the blues.