Review: Playing Pretend, by Tamsyn Bester

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Part of a series? No.

Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance.


Pages: 293


Kadence Kavanagh has spent the last two years trying to rebuild her life. When a job opportunity presents itself, she can’t say no, even if it’s with the man who’s life was ruined by her father’s indiscretion. It’s been years since she last saw Caleb Callahan, and she’s not even sure he remembers her, but she’s determined to give herself a clean slate no matter who she has to work for.

In the unlikeliest of circumstances, Caleb becomes her savior – if somewhat reluctantly – and she discovers that the man she’s read about in the gossip columns is nothing more than a smoke screen. Kadence knows that keeping her distance is for the best, no matter how difficult, but when Caleb proposes the unthinkable, she finds herself caught between what’s real, and what she wishes was real.

Caleb and Kadence lose themselves in a lie, and when reality comes knocking, they realize that all they were doing was playing pretend…




I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

This standalone novel, mostly written from Kadence’s POV, is a not unheard of, but it still works even though sometimes my interest dwindled.

I don’t know what’s going on this year, but I often find myself bored with books and think about taking a break (meaning that I want to stop reading and put the book aside and never pick it up again). It’s very unusual for me. Here, twice I had to convince myself to keep reading and I’m glad I did because while it’s not my favorite book, it’s still a nice story.

Playing Pretend doesn’t miss the mark for me, but somehow it’s not a book I fully enjoyed and the main reason is simple; I don’t like Kadence Kavanagh.

Reading her POV is interesting even though sometimes I think the author does a bit too much and the character’s inner turmoil takes precedence to the plot and rhythm of the story. So, her POV isn’t the real issue because the author manages rather well to conveys her main character’s thoughts and traits. My issue is that Kadence doesn’t show much of a backbone.

I can understand a character’s weakness, I can understand if the female main character has a really hard time resisting the male interest even when he’s being downright awful and doesn’t show much of any redeeming quality, but here it’s too much for me to actually sympathize to Kadence and all she has to go through.

Yes, she truly is a nice girl and has a big heart, but you see at some point I want her to actually do something for herself. Basically, Caleb has to invade her personal space and she’s a goner, even when she knows he’s about to hurt her. AGAIN. I think I wouldn’t have minded that if only I could have seen an evolution in her, if only I felt more of the chemistry between Caleb and her and if only I actually liked Caleb earlier in the novel.

Even now that I’m finished with this novel I’m still annoyed with Kadence. Maybe it’s me because somehow I can’t truly put myself in her shoes and understand all her choices, or the choices she should have made but didn’t. :/

The plot itself stands on its own rather well even though I think sometimes in the book nothing noticeable happens for a few chapters and then many things happen at once and not much is fully explored. For example, we don’t really see much of anything of Nathalia, we don’t know much about that bomb Kadence’s mother drops, I don’t get what is the purpose of the very, very brief encounter between Kadence and Katrina. I can’t explain these examples or else it’d spoil your reading, but I feel like there’s something missing here to fully complete this story. (But there are no lose ends, don’t worry).

The writing is flowing well enough that I easily got into the story, but then I got a bit ‘bored’ when it becomes obvious that nothing worth noticing happens for a long while. It’s my opinion, so…

You see, I don’t really know how I truly feel after reading this book. Without a doubt, it’s a good book with a rather solid story. Many romance readers will probably fall for this story and these characters, but I’m afraid my personal taste makes it harder for me to completely fall for Kadence and Caleb and their story.


3 to 3.5


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