The Dating Game by Sandy Barker – Book Review

Title: The Dating Game (review copy)

Author: Sandy Barker

Genre: Light Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Contemporary

Blurb from Goodreads

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 . . .

My Review

Does a book ever just rub you up the wrong way from the very first page? Because that’s what happened here with me and The Dating Game.

The author Sandy Barker preempts her book by telling her readers that there are a lot of the characters in the story but it’s okay because there’s some newfangled tech with the ebook that lets you know all about who the individual characters are if you highlight their names. Well I read an eARC so can’t tell you if that particular quirk of eBook technology works or not. But what this sort-of-warning from the author does is attempt to let her off the hook for not creating characters that are nuanced enough to be memorable…


BIG red flag in my world thanks. The thing I want most from a book are nuanced and detailed characters. Instead of an author just drafting a swarm of cliched and instantly forgettable stereotypes which is what happened here.

The plot was derivative at best. I mean it’s a ridiculous setup for start with but in an easy, breezy read I’m okay with that so I happily suspended my belief that the producers behind a hit reality TV show akin to The Bachelor would want an actual tabloid journalist to be among the contestants….. I know. Lol. As if they’d wanna reveal all the shady behind the scenes tricks and schemes they’ve got going on to help hook the viewership. … But suspended my belief I did… However suspending belief doesn’t mean I have to accept a poorly plotted and contrived storyline that utterly lacked in any emotional depth.

And as for the writing… ooof no. It just felt “try hard”. To me it was as if the author was trying to hard to make the reader laugh instead; sort of as if they had to hit a certain number of tropes and / or plot devices because that’s what the typical readership of a light read wants. When really they should have trusted their own writing skills and let the plot and characters develop in a more fluidic and organic fashion.

This just really wasn’t my cup of tea.

*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*

Publishing 10th September 2021, One More Chapter

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4 thoughts on “The Dating Game by Sandy Barker – Book Review

  1. Aw I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this! That’s a very…interesting…note to begin with. I’m curious now how they would do that in a physical book or audiobook. I know some of those fantasy/high fantasy books have those ‘cast of characters’ list at the front, but that’s mostly just names and allegiances (I think). Hope your next read is more fun for you!


    1. Thanks Sabrina. Yeah those cast of characters lists make a lot more sense in epic high fantasy tomes that can take place across years and years, but in a light and fairly short fiction… nah. Just seemed like the author was finding a convenient excuse for poor character development

      Liked by 1 person

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