Book Review – Camera Shy by E.J. Russell

Publisher: Reality Optional Press
Pages: 281
Characters: Dustin/Ari
POV: 3rd
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series

Never assume…

…that your uber competent personal assistant will get it when you announce your (fake) engagement to him during a live on-air interview with your archnemesis.

Never waver…

…from your plan to punish your arrogant celebrity boss for his presumption by turning your (fake) wedding into a reality competition for event planners.

Never admit…

…that the feelings blossoming between the two of you through seven (fake) engagement celebrations, six (fake) bachelor parties, five (fake) wedding party luncheons, and four (fake) rehearsal dinners are about as (real) you can get.

Camera Shy is a boss/employee, fake-engagement, right-in-front-of-your-nose romantic comedy featuring a former child model-turned-PA who is so done with cameras, a cocky LGBTQ activist/talk show host who does not lose, more scarves than midwinter in Boston, and banter. So. Much. Banter.

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I loved this fun take on the fake boyfriend trope. The characters are likable, although both a little dense when it comes to figuring out the difference between fake and real.

Ari makes a huge character journey, growing from a self-absorbed man to self-awareness when Dustin turns the tables on him after their fake engagement. I loved how he realises he’s been taking Dustin for granted and how their relationship grows into something much more. I liked Dustin’s strength of character, and his vulnerability especially given his past and his horrible parents. Both he and Ari need to get a clue to figure out the difference between their charade and reality.

I loved the supporting cast, especially Kristen. She and Gus are the pillars of common sense and figuring out what’s going on. I like their friendship with Dustin and Ari. Samira rocks. I love how she takes Dustin’s idea and takes control of it, and the situation. Curtis comes into his own too. Even Jesse surprised me in a good way.

Although the characters drive the story, the plot was a fun read, with a behind the scenes of a reality show, and everything that goes with that. The banter is great.

All in all a low-angst, all the feels, satisfying read that kept me reading as I had to make sure Dustin and Ari got their HEA for real.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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