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THE DATING CHARADE
Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley went to high school together way back in the day. When the two are matched through a dating app, they eventually decide to go out with each other. Cassie doesn’t remember Jett at all—probably because he was a dorky freshman when she was a popular senior. But now Jett is all grown up working as a fireman, and Cassie runs a nonprofit for troubled girls called Girls Haven. Both are surprised when their first date is a success, and as they spend more time together, their bond continues to grow.
But just when it seems like nothing can dampen their blossoming new relationship, both Jett and Cassie get news that they will have to become temporary foster parents to three children…each! This turn of events is difficult enough to deal with on its own. But, to make matters worse, because Cassie specifically stated on her dating profile that she didn’t want kids (in truth, she can’t have them, even though she wishes she could), now both Cassie and Jett are worried their change in circumstances will be a dealbreaker to the other person. Unwilling to jeopardize their still fragile relationship, the two decide to lie to each other about the children. But can they continue to fall in love while keeping so much of their personal lives secret?
Answer: of course not. And that is the main reason why this novel fell flat for me. Even though I loved how the author chose to talk in detail about the foster care system (I think she may have adopted a child out of foster care herself?), the execution of the story is clunky and doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t believe for a second that these two intelligent, grown adults would keep such a huge secret from each other. I don’t care how new or precious a relationship is, you’re going to have to tell your significant other that you, uh, have three children now living in your house. (As a parent to three kids myself, I can confidently say that there’s no way to hide this fact. The truth will out—and fast.)
Plus, to have the secret drag out for the entire novel, as both characters bumble about like idiots, stupidly creating and then narrowly avoiding every “oops, s/he almost found out!” situation under the sun, is just plain insulting to the reader. It’s lazy writing, and I’d give the book two stars if it weren’t for how much I appreciated the accurate portrayal of how tough foster care can be. So yeah, I’d recommend skipping this one.
Thanks to Amazon Vine and Thomas Nelson for the ARC.