The Boyfriend Project was a fun book from beginning to end with some serious exploration underlying it. Farrah Rochon is a new author for me, and now I can’t wait to read the next book in this new contemporary series.
Samiah Brooks is a brilliant software engineer who is a go-getter and loves her work. She thinks she’s in an interesting relationship, when she discovers, to her horror, that her boyfriend is cheating on her with two other women, each of whom thinks he’s exclusive to her. From this atrocious beginning comes a close friendship as the three women come together to for their Boyfriend Project: a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. What this means that there will be no men and no dating allowed.
Samiah uses their pact of working on something that makes them happy as the impetus to finally finish developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating.
Into this determination, steps Daniel Collins, a biracial man (Korean-American and African-American), who investigates financial crimes. On the surface, he is a tech worker just like Samiah. But unknown to her, he’s actually working undercover for the federal government, and it is not something he can divulge to anyone, not even her. As their relationship goes from fun to flirty, he is torn about his secret.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this story is how good both Samiah and Daniel Collins are at their jobs and how well they connect intellectually. Despite both being engineers and coworkers, I liked how non-competitive and supportive they are. They allow each other to be their best selves at work, and that shows up in their relationship outside work.
They are kind to each other and considerate of their feelings, and I liked how well they understand and respect each other. Even when they have the inevitable conflicts of a developing relationship, they are trusting of each other. And that trust comes under fire with the secret each is keeping from the other: Samiah’s pact with her friends and, the big one, Daniel’s hidden work. Rochon does a wonderful job showing how they work through the problems to solutions unique to who they are and their relationship.
In this book, Rochon explores the struggles of Black women in the workplace, particularly in the tech industry, with sensitivity and empathy, and it was the strongest aspect of the novel for me. Being a woman in tech is never easy, but being a double minority, and a Black woman at that, takes an act of courage every single day. Rochon shows how Samiah has to work harder than her colleagues to get the same level of success as them and how she feels the pressure to be a role model for other Black young women entering the field. I enjoyed Samiah’s and Daniel’s conversation about racism and sexism.
The Boyfriend Project is a wonderful mix of what I love in romance: romantic tenderness, great chemistry, bright individuals, expertise in their jobs, deep friendships with secondary characters, and excellent conflict between them leading to great trust-building.