Picture-Perfect Boyfriend by Becky Dean

“Picture-Perfect Boyfriend is another steller travel romcom from Becky Dean[…]”

Review by Erin Phillips

Two strangers, one tropical island, and lots of lies in this funny beach romance from the author of Love & Other Great Expectations!

Aspiring nature photographer Kenzie Reed just can’t get her straitlaced family of optometrists to take her art seriously. She’s resigned to putting aside her dreams and accepting the depressing life that awaits her at the family business. She even makes up a fake, boring boyfriend—Jacob—to get her parents off her back.

But when the Reeds arrive in Hawaii for spring break, Kenzie is shocked that “Jacob” shows up at the airport—and joins their vacation. Kenzie can’t reveal him as a fraud without confessing her lie, so she’s stuck playing along while trying to find out who he really is.

No way is she going to actually fall for him—because even though he’s funny, nice, smart, and cute, he’s also a liar. Isn’t he?

Filled with warm summer breezes and salty sea air, Becky Dean’s Picture-Perfect Boyfriend will sweep you off your feet into a tropical paradise, sun on your shoulders—where love is just around a palm tree.

Release Date: 5/23/23

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Pages: 384

I received this ARC for free through NetGalley. This review is voluntary and my honest opinion.

“I don’t believe in living in fear.”

Picture-Perfect Boyfriend is another steller travel romcom from Becky Dean, this time travelling to the colorful Hawaiian islands and full of fun marine biology, photography facts, and a heartfelt message that every teen needs to hear before they pick a career.

I think everyone can relate to the pressure to fit in with the crowd, to go with the flow, to not rock the boat, even at the expense of our own passions and opinions. Maybe you haven’t lied and invented a boyfriend, but I know I’ve been quiet so that no one is upset by my conflicting thoughts, or I’ve accepted roles and responsibilities I knew didn’t fit me just to make someone happy.

“What makes each person beautiful is that no one else is like them. So why are you trying to be someone you aren’t instead of being the unique you that you are? The one that only occurs once in history and is meant to do things that no one else ever could?”

People pleasing. The fear of rejection. The desire for acceptance. That is what is at the heart of Picture-Perfect Boyfriend, and regardless of the shenagins that ensue, that message rings true. Even at 32 years old, I need to be reminded that God made me ME on purpose, and there are more blessings in pursuing my calling and passions than in trying to appease others (family, friends, culture, etc.)

Aside from the message and themes, I love how Becky Dean really brings you into a location in a way that makes it stick! She had me googling pictures of Hawaii and wanting to see all the spots Kenzie and Jake visit because they sounded beautiful and magical. This story really highlights the beauty and gift of nature.

And the characters were great too! Each one was quirky but in a very relatable way. I come from a family of nerds, so I related to Kenzie as the outsider artist, but it was fun to see each of her family members fleshed out into unique individuals, not just uniformed members of a single pack, as the story went on.

Plus the subplot with Jake…I mean Jacob…was extra fun! I was on the edge of my seat demanding answers from the very first chapter, and it was great to get to discover all of his secrets along the way.

“You don’t have to be a professional to call yourself a photographer,” the man said. “If you like to take pictures, I say, claim the title. None of that ‘aspiring’ stuff. I’m hardly a pro. But I am a photographer.”

With a touching message of following your passions and being your authentic self, and a humorous but vibrant vacation filled with mystery and romance, Picture-Perfect Boyfriend is definitely a book you are going to want for your summer reading!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 1 out of 10.
1. Little to no action. 

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 2 out of 10.
2. Mild content (holding hands and mild kissing).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 1 out of 10.
1. Infrequent substitute cursing (less than 10 "craps" etc. and/or book-specific curse words).

Other Trigger Warnings:


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