D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding
I have been talking about wanting to read D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding for ages! Tara has been very patient with my desperation to read this book. A lesbian rom com about a wedding reality show? Girl, sign me up! Anticipating a book for years usually leads to crushing disappointment, but this book lived up to the hype for me. It’s so good, y’all!
Tara, what did you think?
Tara: Patient, *snort*. Shana, you know I was just as hooked as you the day the blurb dropped. And I agree that it lives up to all the fun and good feels that the premise promises!
Shana: Shy D’Vaughn is a fat queer femme who’s deep in the closet. She loves to watch Instant I Do, a tv show that pairs two strangers together, and gives them 6 weeks to plan a wedding while convincing their families that they’re really engaged. When Instant I Do decides to do an all queer cast, à la Are You the One’s epic queer season, D’Vaughn knows coming out to her family is the perfect hook to get cast on the show. But she didn’t bargain for being paired with Kris, a smoking hot Afro-Latinx fitness influencer with a big, accepting family that welcomes D’Vaughn with open arms.
One of my favorite parts of the book was how D’Vaughn and Kris are very savvy would-be reality stars. They know what will get them cast on the show, and how to negotiate the producer’s attempts at manufactured drama. Most novels with reality show settings have the characters flail, but both of these ladies are super competent and have strong personal reasons for doing the show. Kris knows it will help her promote her business, and is also hoping for a true love connection after years of dating fitness groupies. And D’Vaughn wants to finally come out, and win $100,000 by making it to the altar without the families guessing that they’re complete strangers. I was totally invested in whether Kris could convince D’Vaughn to give up the show’s cash prize, and marry Kris for real instead.
What did you think of Kris and D’Vaughn’s fake relationship skills? They seemed to fall fast for one another!
Tara: They clearly have zero fake relationship ability, but what’s that joke about lesbians and U-Hauls? I’m okay with how quickly they fall in love because we get to watch it grow. While the mutual lust and attraction are instant, these things build into respect and love because Kris and D’Vaughn are immersed in each other’s worlds. They see the families they come from and learn about their core values. Is there more for these two to learn about each other at the end of the six weeks? Most definitely. But by the end of their time on the show, they seem to understand the most important things and have a willingness to do the work from there to ensure that they last.
To me, it helps that Kris goes into the show looking for love. Although the official blurb makes it sound like Kris is only on the show to build her brand, she genuinely wants to find the love of her life. If both of them had been on the show for personal reasons and without any intention of finding a relationship, this would have been a very different story. But how could D’Vaughn not fall for Kris, who worships her and is willing to do what it takes to help D’Vaughn understand she’s in it for the long haul? Were I single, I would happily let Kris wrap her beefy arms around me any day.
Shana: Same! Kris is a huge romantic softy. Her earnest butch courtship was sweet as candy, and watching D’Vaughn get flustered and overwhelmed made me want to squeal. Every chapter with these two turned me into a melted puddle of goo.
What did you think of the romance?
Tara: This is a “yes, but…” for me. I agree that they’re adorable and I often got all melty while reading it, especially in the first half. Courtship is the perfect word for the way Kris approaches D’Vaughn, guiding a fake relationship into a real one by putting her heart on her sleeve and being honest at every turn with D’Vaughn about her feelings.
However, while I believed in their HEA by the end of their six weeks, I still wasn’t sure how’d they’d do almost up until that point. This is because D’Vaughn gets all hung up about them being part of a reality show and that everything they’re doing is supposed to be fake, questioning in her head whether Kris is being truthful versus curating moments for good TV.
While I could understand why D’Vaughn wouldn’t have the single conversation that could have cleared things up (typically a major frustration for me), her anxiety about Kris’s motivations threw off the pacing for me in the back half of the novel. I kept wondering how they’d learn to communicate in a healthy way, because the trust just didn’t seem to be there until they were filming the final episode. Thankfully the epilogue takes place a year later, so I could see that D’Vaughn and Kris had found their way and I’m confident that they’re in a good place.
Shana: I usually hate poor communication, but because these two seemed to fit so perfectly into each other’s families, and D’Vaughn was so clearly into Kris, I didn’t really notice their issues as much. The intensity of their connection really sucked me in. But there’s a lot of plot jammed into this book, and I can see how some needed conversations were dropped along the way. So much happens! I think the pace worked for me because I read this book during a stressful time when I needed A Very Lesbian Distraction. It’s fast moving, but not high-angst, which I found comforting.
But there were times when I wished the story would slow down and linger on a particularly good moment. For example, at the beginning of the book we meet all the other queer and trans contestants on the show, and the final couples are quickly mentioned near the end. Those pairings sounded juicy but the book was such a tease! Maybe there will be a second book?
Tara: I wouldn’t be mad if there were a book about a future season, either. Give me all the queer reality show casts, please and thank you!
And you’re right about there being a LOT of plot alongside the relationship development. One of the aspects that got me right in the feels was when D’Vaughn came out to her mother, who is deeply religious. As a former evangelical person with parents who are still in the church, all my everything was clenching for D’Vaughn as she prepared to tell her mom that she’s a lesbian. I’m happy to say that I can assure anyone who’s experienced religious trauma that this part of the story was not only safe, but healing for me to read. I wish more of us had parents like D’Vaughn’s mom.
Did you have any other last impressions or thoughts, Shana?
Shana: I felt ambivalent about Kris’s weight loss backstory. I’m very sensitive to fatphobia as a reader, and nothing will pull me out of a book like diet culture references.
Kris launches her fitness influencer career by documenting her exercise routine and unplanned weight loss on social media. She is clear that D’Vaughn’s banging body and fatshion sense is exactly her type and there’s no mention of dieting in the book. But I felt like having Kris be a former fat person was unnecessary to the plot, and it kept the book from being 100% fat positive for me. I wish the story had either not included that backstory, or discussed it more fully. Instead, the book mentions her weight loss in passing a few times, but never explores how Kris feels about it. Being the poster child for weight loss, while being attracted mostly to thick women, could have been a fun and interesting juxtaposition if there was a bit more context. Honestly, I didn’t get why Kris’s weight loss was part of the story. She could have been a lifelong hardbody, a chubby lifter, or just not had her weight mentioned, and I would have been delighted.
How about you, Tara? Did anything annoy you about the book?
Tara: Other than what I talked about above? No, I was pretty happy with this book! I get what you mean about Kris as a formerly fat person, though. It was noted so rarely and had so little to do with who Kris is as a person that I said to myself “oh yeah, THAT’S why she’s an influencer” every time after the first mention.
Although the pacing of the last half was off for me, overall I had a great time reading D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding. I love reality show romances and I love fake relationship romances, so I was thrilled that this book is like the old Reese’s tagline: two great tastes that taste great together. These characters are memorable and I enjoyed my time with them.
Shana: Damn, now I want a peanut butter cup. Overall, I loved this book. There was just enough fake relationship and reality show drama to keep me reading, and I enjoyed the family antics, and healing. This book might appeal to readers who like seeing a chivalrous person woo a reluctant heroine, and don’t mind a few loose ends. I’d happily read this again.