Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson

The Dating Charade

I heard a lot of recommendations for this book, so I was grateful for a chance to read an early copy.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins.

Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.

But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.

No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? 

And now, my review: 

I wanted to enjoy this story. After all those glowing recommendations, I was excited to dig in. Unfortunately, at least with the ARC (advanced reader copy), there were several concerns. I felt I’d missed an earlier book in a (nonexistent) series because I was lost in the sea of people, from both the hero’s and the heroine’s POVs (points of view). I don’t mind a lot of characters, but we had both their first names and their last names, used independently in the same scene, so instead of say, seven characters, we had fourteen to track per POVC (point-of-view character).

I liked the heroine’s trick of speech in some of her fun phrases. I liked that she does a noble work, like the hero who is a firefighter. The author’s prose and descriptions, now and then, required highlighting. 😉 Unfortunately, there were also odd descriptions that didn’t fit. I liked that the hero has had a crush on the heroine since they were in high school together. That could have been a fun element, containing anticipation or adoration and then discovery when she figured it out.

The story doesn’t advance as the usual romance, which was unsatisfying. I don't need strict formula in the fiction I enjoy, but I like to find romantic moments that fit the romance's timing, don't feel contrived, and are earned. I found premature elements occurring too early. I also found several missed opportunities in terms of the romance’s advancement—elements I would recommend “milking” rather than grazing. I skimmed much rambling narrative and unfortunately gave up on this book at about 30 percent.

Readers who want something outside the usual may enjoy this story. I'd give it 2.5 stars. I wish the author and publisher all the best.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.