[BLOG TOUR] BOOK REVIEW: THE DATING GAME BY SANDY BARKER

Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity…

Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.

When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.

The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all…

The Dating Game introduces us to Abby Jones, a talented and aspirational journalist, currently stuck in a rut writing celebrity stories and holding the crown for Queen of Recaps, for everybody’s favourite reality show – The Stag, under the pseudonym, Anastasia Blabbergasted. Abby has always recapped the addictive series from the comfort of her own home and now, she is being thrown head first in to the game as a contestant, giving her a front row experience of what truly goes on, on and off screen.

Like all of Sandy’s leading ladies, Abby was an absolute delight. To say she wasn’t all thrilled to be a contestant on the show, worried it would ruin her chances of becoming a serious journalist, she really put her all in to making it a worthwhile experience for herself and all of the other ladies competing alongside her. I really enjoyed reading the weekly recaps Abby had written privately within the mansion – she handled it amazingly, despite her growing connections to others making her hold back from completely writing the recaps she was brought to the mansion to create. I really loved how loyal Abby has also already become to a small handful of the contestants – some friendships were created from the second of meeting one another, some took a little more time to come around and some didn’t want friendship at all. The contestants were all very different from one another and their motives for being on the show were also far from being similar to another’s.

There was a variety of loud and quiet personalities within the household, that really brought that pizzazz on and off screen that the viewers and crew were absolutely living for. My favourite contestants besides Abby (of course) definitely had to be Kaz, Elizabeth, Becca and Stevie. Daphne was a grower though and by the end, she had me won over alongside the other ladies. The Cruella Sisters were an unfortunate addition to the house and I was always desperately waiting to see the back of them. Daniel, our charming Stag of the new season was a little out of sorts and I couldn’t ever really tell if I liked him or not, but that also could be because my mind was on a whole other romance happening amongst the pages. By the end of it, I knew what I felt towards Daniel and was over the moon with the finale outcome.

Despite the whole experience for the ladies not being all that they had expected – it was really fun getting to experience them taking part in different activities, getting to know the scenery within Sydney, Australia and walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They may not have all gotten a happy ending with the Stag, but they sure did get one ladies holiday out of it all!

Last but, most certainly not least – we absolutely need to briefly talk about the gorgeous Jack and the connection he had with Abby. The two had obvious chemistry from the get-go and although both were quite timid about sharing their feelings to one another, there was not a single chance that the two were going to be able to keep it together for such a long period of time being round one another. I really loved the scenes between Abby, Jack and his brother, Harry, when they were watching the episodes together, ready for Abby to start typing up her weekly recaps. They were such a great trio and Harry was a great sport in keeping Abby and Jack’s strong lust under wraps from everybody else. There was a really romantic scene at the very end that had me actually welling up, Sandy you were a genius for that one particular beach scene! If you know, you know.

The Dating Game is a fabulous and entertaining read, especially if you are a fan of reality tv shows. There is so much to unravel within all of the characters, there’s tension, there’s drama, there’s secret romances, everything you could possibly want from a dating show is right here in the pages of this book. Sandy, thank you for deciding to recap reality shows during lockdown and thank you to your friend for deciding this had to be made in to a book because it was a brilliant read and one that shouldn’t be missed!

Shelby x

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1 Comment

  1. September 10, 2021 / 12:37 pm

    Oh, thank you! And not just for the fabulous review but for being part of the tour. I really appreciate it.

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