The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise (Ta’Mara Hanscom) – Review + Giveaway



~ About the Book ~

Set in South Dakota in 1975, where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beer in a bar, and loaded guns were kept under the counter. Frankie Valli sang “My Eyes Adored You,” and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.

It’s within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined—and had been for many years—yet they had no idea.

From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart—and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride’s deception.

Genre:  Christian Fiction (Family Saga)
Series:  #1 Caselli Family Series
Release date:  21 September 2013
Pages:  360
Publisher:  Reata Publishing

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

Noah was just pulling his bike into the parking lot when Tillie stepped out the door. He wore a heavy denim jacket this morning and dark aviators. He was more stunning than any movie star she’d ever seen. Her seventeen-year-old heart fluttered as she took a breath and gently patted her chest. What is this? I’ve never felt like this in my life.
Noah pulled up under the canopy and Tillie hopped onto the bike, put her arms around his middle, and held on tight.
As Noah pulled out he felt her arms around his waist. Sheer contentment filled his heart. What is it about this girl that’s so different from all the others?
He drove his bike into Maggie’s parking lot to say good morning. “I can’t believe our perfect timing,” he grinned as he pulled down his sunglasses just enough to look at her. “And you look great this morning.”
Tillie smiled into his blue eyes. “So do you.”
“How ’bout some breakfast?”
“I’m starved. I didn’t get time to eat before I left.”
“Me neither. Have you ever seen Mt. Rushmore?”
Tillie shook her head.
“Well, it’s about a half-hour’s drive. We can eat in the dining room up there. Can you make it that long?”
“I can make it,” she answered, eager to see the Hills and the monument.
Noah was wearing gloves, but he noticed Tillie was not. “Your hands are going to get really cold. Just tuck them into my jacket pockets. We’ll get you a pair when we get up to the monument.” Noah turned in his seat, gave the throttle a twist, and they headed down LaCrosse. Tillie tucked her hands into his jacket pockets and clutched his middle, praying every moment that she wasn’t doing something stupid.

Taken from “The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise” by Ta’Mara Hanscom
© 2010, 2017 by Ta’Mara Hanscom

~ Review ~

This is going to be one of the most confusing reviews I have ever written, and I really have no idea how to rate this book, because I’m genuinely conflicted. I felt there were weaknesses in the writing and the characterisation in this story, and it really hasn’t gone how I wanted it to go, and yet all I can think is, “When can I get the next book?” I’m hooked, but I’m not sure my heart is ready for what’s to come!

There are probably some things you should know upfront if you’re considering reading this book. Firstly, this is the first book in a family saga—and an Italian family saga at that! So don’t pick this book up if you’re not in it for the long haul. Secondly, if you are in it for the long haul, be prepared for the unresolved tension that is slowly and quietly building up.

You see, way back in the beginning, there was a misunderstanding that hasn’t been corrected, and it’s changed the course of the characters’ lives. Not only that, but certain information has been withheld and irreversible choices made as a result—choices I was torn about them making.  And the two key players have no idea just how thin the veil is that keeps the truth hidden. When that veil falls away . . . argh! I’m afraid it’s going to be messy and painful, and I’m not sure how my poor little heart is going to handle it, let alone theirs!

So as you can tell, I’ve become invested in this story. But as I said at the beginning, there were some weaknesses, too. The characters felt a little flat to me; some of them even unrealistic, at least in certain aspects. Like Noah’s sudden about-face at the beginning of the story. It’s pretty idealistic to think that a guy who was living the lifestyle he had been living could turn his life around so drastically—and lastingly—on the strength of his love for a girl he’d only known for about 48 hours. Mind you, as the story progressed it was the ‘blackguard’ persona that I had trouble believing, which may be why my heart yielded pretty quickly to Noah’s charm and his heartache.

I also wasn’t convinced Marquette and Tara’s James-Bondesque lifestyle was realistic, and Tillie’s parents seemed inconsistent in their opinions about Noah. Initially, Tillie’s mother was worried about the relationship, but her father allayed those fears and seemed to put an unrealistic amount of trust in Tillie’s seventeen-year-old ability to correctly discern Noah’s character (despite the fact she had blatantly disobeyed them by meeting with him). Then, somewhere along the way—ironically, after learning that Noah had turned his life around—they seemed to switch roles, with Tillie’s father determined to keep them apart, and her mother concerned this was the wrong decision to make.

As far as the writing is concerned, I found the head-hopping (switching point-of-view characters within a scene) a bit distracting. There were even occasions where an omniscient point-of-view was used, although very infrequently. Some people don’t mind that kind of thing, and there are probably plenty of others scratching their heads wondering what on earth I’m talking about, but I prefer to stay with one point-of-view character for the whole scene. The writing also wasn’t my style, being fairly prosaic and lacking the kind of imagery and nuance that really brings a story to life for me.

And yet, when all is said and done, I cannot deny that I’m hooked and eager to get the next installment of this saga. So make of this review what you will!

I received a copy of this novel from Litfuse Publicity. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ Giveaway ~

Join Ta’Mara in celebrating the release of the second printing and new covers by entering to win her $75 prize basket giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of The Pretender
  • A $75 Amazon gift card
  • A decorative box containing measuring cups, ten recipes from the book, a potholder, a kitchen towel, pepper and salt grinders, kitchen utensils, and an olive oil dispenser

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 11. The winner will be announced October 12 on the Litfuse blog.

~ About the Author ~

THanscom-469Born and raised in South Dakota, Ta’Mara loves to write about the Great Plains and the beauty and people of Italia. While her husband and children manage their two pizza ristoranti, Ta’Mara works full time on The Caselli Family Series, and ministers to women. It is Ta’Mara’s prayer that as the readers explore the truths in these volumes, they will come away with a new perspective on love, forgiveness, obedience, and God’s plan for marriage.

Connect with Ta’Mara:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter



About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
Image | This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise (Ta’Mara Hanscom) – Review + Giveaway

  1. Raechel says:

    I am still in the long process of trying to put together my review of this one because I also felt so torn! Ach! You did well in your review though, and I agree with all you said. I don’t know if I honestly can handle reading the next book though. ^.^


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