Love in Reality: A Contemporary Romance

Love in Reality

Former lawyer Magdalen Braden writes legal romances set in Philadelphia.

Book 1 of The Blackjack Quartet features Libby, who spends her summer break from law school pretending to be her bartender sister on The Fishbowl, a not-very-real reality TV show.

Read now: Amazon | B & N

TV producer Rand Jennings isn’t looking for love — he’s looking for a flirty female contestant for his reality show, The Fishbowl. Pretty bartender Lissa Pembroke is bright, outgoing, and the perfect “Fish” to play the part. Although sparks fly between them when Rand approaches her with the role, she wants nothing to do with him or his show …

Law student Libby Pembroke is too busy with school and work to have time for love — or reality TV. She’s temporarily switched places with her identical twin sister Lissa, balancing Lissa’s job with her own studies and preparing for a summer internship. So while the handsome and charming Fishbowl producer knocks Libby off her feet, there’s no way she’s going on national TV, and acting like, well, her sister.

The irresistible chemistry between Libby and Rand can’t be ignored, however, and soon Libby discovers that pretending to be Lissa gives her a freedom she’s never known before. She goes on the show to be close to Rand, even though Rand still thinks she’s the “flirty” twin.

When Libby decides to reveal the truth, will Rand forgive her deceptions? Or will exposing her secrets — and her heart — ruin everything?


  • “Braden creates a reality show from start to finish, with all its intricacies and pulls it off with aplomb. Marcy, the show’s lunatic director, is worth the price of admission, but other characters round out the stellar cast. 4 stars.”
    Donna M. Brown at RT Book Reviews
  • “I am very pleased to have discovered Ms. Braden’s books. Unearthing stories with smart, intelligent characters in plausible plots can seem like a scavenger hunt, but sometimes you win.”
    Leigh Davis at All About Romance
  • Love in Reality was a cute read. The whole reality show environment, combined with the lawyer aspect works well here. Libby and Rand are wonderful together, including those scenes where they act on their passion. I also enjoyed the mentions of classic films from Rand. It seems Magdalen has done her research here not only with how television and Hollywood runs, but also the whole law school student scenario. … Love in Reality was well written with snappy dialogue and believable chemistry between the hero and heroine. Fans of Julie James and Jill Shalvis will enjoy this one.”
    KT Grant at Babbling about Books


Rand Jennings enjoyed killing his boss, Marcy Edelstein.

He enjoyed it so much, he sometimes killed her twice in a single meeting.

They weren’t hurried affairs, either. Sure, he once capped her twice in the back of the head, Mafia-execution-style, before walking away. Usually, though, he took his time, pairing up cinematic murders with Marcy’s too-thin, too-caffeinated, too-Botoxed body. In fact, he’d researched whether he could kill her with Botox. Unfortunately, as apt as that would be, it took too much of the toxin to be practical.

So Rand settled for the classics. He shot her and let her fall into a Hollywood Hills swimming pool (Sunset Boulevard). He stabbed her in the shower (Psycho)—an awkward, blindly-slashing affair as he really didn’t want to see her naked. He dipped her in gold paint so her skin smothered (Goldfinger). During one of Marcy’s particularly nasty harangues, Rand slipped up behind her and garroted her with her own Hermès scarf (The Godfather, modified).

“Jesus, people, wake up!” Marcy screeched. “I need better ideas. Opposites attract this year, so we have to cast interesting people—of course no fatties—who the audience will understand in a very specific way.”

Rand leaned sideways toward Debbie and whispered, “How about Narcissistic Actor as a type?”

“They’d all qualify,” she muttered.

Marcy glared at them. “You two are like third-graders passing notes. Grow up! The Fishbowl isn’t going to produce itself. I’ve come up with the grand theme. The least you can do is help me amplify my vision.”

“C’mon, Marcy, it’s reality TV,” Rand said. “Let’s not lose sight of the fundamentals. Good-looking people in bathing suits jump around during the day and backstab at night while trying to win a million dollars. It’s not hard to figure out the themes. Greed and competition. This isn’t Hamlet.”

Read now: Amazon | B & N